Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The end of free TV as we know it?

In a fascinating story posted today, Associated Press business writer Andrew Vanacore warns: "For more than 60 years, TV stations have broadcast news, sports and entertainment for free and made their money by showing commercials. That might not work much longer." Indeed, Vanacore quotes Fitch Ratings analyst Jamie Rizzo as predicting "at least one of the four broadcast networks 'could explore' becoming a cable channel as early as 2011." Why? To cut out the middle men -- i.e., owners of local affiliate TV stations -- while collecting fees from cable and satellite companies. But wait, there's more: If broadcast TV stations currently affiliated with networks are forced to go independent, Vanacore writes, the affiliates "would have to air their own programming, including local news and syndicated shows."  All of which means that, in the not-so-distant future, you may have to pay to see programs like American Idol or NCIS -- or make do with reruns of Boston Legal and The Andy Griffith Show.

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