Small-market TV — the Squeeze Is On.

  • Small-market TV — the Squeeze Is On.
    USA Today reports that some smaller TV station owners, especially in smaller markets, are getting hosed from the cost of upgrading to digital. This isn’t surprising since smaller and independent owners have almost no voice in communications policy making, including being largely marginalized within the broadcast lobby and the NAB. Thus, they had little or no agency in determining when, if and how television would be upgraded to digital. The big chains and networks can more easily absorb the cost of the upgrade, and have more to gain in the process.

    Of course, TV broadcasting is a big boy’s game, and I doubt that ABC, FOX, CBS and NBC will shed a tear for their little market affiliates. In fact, I’ll bet their secretly licking their lips. These little cash-strapped stations will make great takeover targets if the networks can coerce the FCC into lifting the current limits on how many stations they can own. And if not the networks then the bigger owners of network affiliates will be in line to clean up.

    It won’t be long, then, ’til TV looks even more like radio. News will be cut back even more, or eliminated altogether, especially in smaller markets. Any local public affairs programming will be slashed away in favor of lowest-common-demominator syndicated crap that costs as little as possible. Don’t be surprised when local TV is turned into a low-overhead, high-profit but crap-ass service (as if it weren’t already mostly that way).

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