Deborah D. McAdams /
12.09.2013 05:00 PM
McAdams On: Killing Broadcast TV
Just maybe...
SPINNING— Sometimes, when an idea gains momentum, there’s no stopping it, even to consider alternatives. This is particularly true when it’s repeated often enough and becomes a default reality. Lobbyists, politicians and businesses use the press to facilitate default realities. We, the press, dutifully comply. The Internet gives us a universal fire hose.

So it is, the idea that broadcast television is obsolete and should be eliminated has permeated the collective mindset, like Crocs or pet rocks. There is no discussion about what the country would look like without the medium that conveyed to nearly every man, woman and child in the country that President John F. Kennedy was felled by an assassin.

Even within the broadcast community, there are frustrated conversations in general agreement that broadcast has had its day. The exasperation is due in part to the discordant nature of the industry, comprised as it is of hundreds of businesses of every imaginable size, all competing among themselves. Getting them all on the same page at the same time is virtually impossible.

It doesn’t help that the ownership demographic is almost exclusively older, white and male, countervailing the medium’s public service justification in terms of diversity.

Broadcasting has a lot going against it right now, including its heavy reliance on retrans fees. Cable and satellite aren’t going to oppose spectrum reclamation, especially with cable shedding subscribers. All the traditional distribution networks are under pressure, not just broadcasting, which could but does not promote itself so as not to further irritate the pay providers, I’m told. Consequently, free, over-the-air TV’s kind of a secret, and that’s too bad, because when it goes, it’s gone. We will all be either at the mercy of one of two wireless providers, or in left the dark.

I hope the new FCC chairman has the gravitas to work for the public, and not simply as an industry shill. There are alternatives to the wholesale elimination of broadcasting, and these should be considered.

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Posted by: Anonymous
Fri, 12-13-2013 09:29 AM Report Comment
Or more recent events such as 9-11 when the internet failed us but over the TV was there.
Posted by: Anonymous
Fri, 12-13-2013 10:03 AM Report Comment
Isn't the first paragraph the definition of propaganda?
Posted by: Anonymous
Fri, 12-13-2013 10:16 AM Report Comment
Great article Deborah! As a counter point - 9/11/01 - NO EAS ACTIVATION ! The White House issued advisories via hand-outs to CNN... That was not 1963 ... but it was over 12 years ago. Mark G. Fehlig Atlanta
Posted by: Anonymous
Fri, 12-13-2013 11:19 AM Report Comment
"He who controls the message, controls the masses." If an "entity" (choose your poison) can arbitrarily shut down a website, or shut off "streaming" - then what's to say that if the "message" is contrary to what the "governing" flavor-of-the-term decides that message is a bit "too off" and proceeds to shut it off. Freedom of speech, as we're used to dealing with, is no more. It's "1984" by Orwellian standards. And you can't say that it hasn't happened already. Our SCOTUS hasn't had to deal too much with the subject because no one has gone up against any administration/Government-wonk, yet, to challenge them. The camel's nose is in the tent and we're already smelling the camel's toes too. The problem? We seem to enjoy the "stink" that's coming off those toes way too much to see what the problem has become. We, the sheeple of the United States are being led by the butcher...and free, OTA TV (and Radio) will be the first of the slaughtered.
Posted by: Anonymous
Fri, 12-13-2013 12:10 PM Report Comment
In the event of a real emergency with wide spread power outages, it is hard to see what will replace broadcast media. Also, do we really want only pay pipelines into the house. Killing broadcast is de-diversification.
Posted by: Anonymous
Fri, 12-13-2013 09:59 PM Report Comment
In all disasters over the last 12 years, only broadcast TV & radio were there to serve the public. The telco giants were cut off and couldn't even provide 911 services. The folks that we elected in Washington need to stop looking at the dollars involved and worry about the people that elected them. After all, TV is the medium that they use to get their word out to the public!
Posted by: Anonymous
Sat, 12-14-2013 01:22 AM Report Comment
OTA TV is increasing in popularity, not decreasing. People are leaving cable because of how good digital broadcast is. Broadcasters are bringing the next generation of technology to the people now! We do it with out a separate frequency for each version of our technology unlike cell companies that waste spectrum by using different frequencies for each version of their phones. Why is that allowed? We broadcasters don't do that. Why should they take our frequencies for inefficient uses? How much spectrum should they be allowed to waste? Will they be able to provide free news and emergency information like we do or will you need to pay for minutes? Does any one want to watch the big game on the telephone? Why is it OK to put thousands of small businessmen out of business by killing the LPTV industry, you know the one that was just bolstered by the digital revolution. LPTV, Class A and Full Power stations have all just completed expensive upgrades to digital. So now is a good time to end all that. What? We need to take the spectrum away for "The Next Generation of Wireless Devices". Well we call that "5G". 5G will not function on the broadcast frequencies. That is why the big cell companies are perfecting gigahertz wireless technology as I write this. They have been working on that for years because they know that 5G needs to work on gigahertz frequencies. So why take broadcasters spectrum for them if they can't use it? Is there some device that does not work now? Is there one that is sold that needs my channel to work? How many people will the frequency serve at a time? Should I go bankrupt for this device? Is it for the greater good of the people to take away free broadcast television for cell companies that already know the new devices need higher frequencies than we have to work at the new 5G speeds. Is it for the greater good to end broadcast television as it increases in popularity? Broadcasters need to wake up! We can not trust the FCC to protect us. They have turned against us. They used to protect us from interference. Now they are going to cause not only interference but they will kill our businesses. How many times will we have to switch channels before we are completely off the air and broke? Why is it ok for the FCC to bankrupt thousands of Class A and LPTV small business people through out the country? It is time to use the medium we have before we lose it. Broadcast a warning to all your viewers. The government wants you to pay for tv! The government wants you to lose your free access to high definition and digital television. Who is going to be helped by that? If you want to free up some spectrum how about making the cell companies use one frequency for all versions of the systems. Convert everyone to 4G and free up the spectrum used for the previous versions and presto, you have recovered the real wasted spectrum. I am a LPTV station owner and have worked much of my life to get it. I was told all along the way that we were a secondary service. That was described as secondary to full power stations. It was never described as being secondary to cell phones or anything else. All broadcasters need to devote airtime to this because our protectors have become our persecutors.
Posted by: Anonymous
Mon, 12-16-2013 07:16 AM Report Comment
I wonder if the "9-11 Argument" would be valid, had the WTC attacks happened at 3:00 AM, rather than right in the middle of the morning network news shows? There was really no point in activating the EAS system nationwide at that time of day, and with so little "official information" available. Of course, the major stations were off the air in New York City right after the bombing.
Posted by: Anonymous
Fri, 12-27-2013 10:22 AM Report Comment
Broadcast TV can deliver content more selectively than just everyone in the coverage area. This would be more internet-like and so more in tune with the public and more valuable. An improved EAS would benefit from such selectivity. Multilingual capability is part of this. For example, there are a lot of interesting looking Spanish and other channels, but there are few with an English sound track for a start. Bollywood video stores have few titles with an English sound track, but that is an illustration, not the fault of U.S. TV. With these improvements, the future ATSC 3.0 can revive broadcast TV. HD Radio can also improve, but the public is not that aware of it.
Posted by: Anonymous
Mon, 12-30-2013 06:45 PM Report Comment
The problem with over the air tv is it is 50% commercials, and the programing sucks. The networks themselves are what is killing tv. Why should I watch something that I don't like and still have to watch 50% commercials when I can get hulu or netflix?
Posted by: Anonymous
Mon, 01-06-2014 10:15 AM Report Comment
Nearly everybody I meet seems surprised to hear that over-the-air TV still exists.Most seem to think that it went away in 2009, during the Digital Transition. I see lots of ads for "Digital Antennas" on sub-channel TV, but, how does a person without an antenna (already) ever see those spots, since they are usually OTA-only?

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