Mar 9, 2009

I Miss Entertainment on Broadcast TV

Whatever happened to entertainment?

It's not like the world isn't bombarded by an endless 24-hour news cycle. It is. NBC, Fox, and CNN all dominate the national news scene in this country, and the fact that some digital networks are dedicating themselves to news is kind of irksome. The broadcast networks have really dropped the ball on subchannel development in the new digital order because they've completely abandoned entertainment.

Despite what Fox News, CNBC, and Headline News tell you, news is not entertainment. It's news. The major broadcast networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox) are owned by Disney, NBC Universal, CBS Paramount, and News Corp, monolithic entertainment companies with a vast library of shows, movies, and specials for all ages.

The thing isn't that they can't create outlets airing those shows but rather they won't. Why won't they? The television industry is cheap. Even before the depression started, the television industry is powered by cheap, overpaid individuals with no talent who don't want to pay folks with talent, whether it be writers, artists, or actors. They've embraced the internet and cable television so they wouldn't have to give residuals to those who created the products the shows' owners get paid for.

The digital television agenda seems to be awarding the television industry for something they didn't do. Older programs are disappearing from the airwaves, replaced by more modern fare, which is disheartening because not everything modern is good and not everything old is bad. A profit could be made from airing programs, plus it could actually rejuvenate the broadcast television market (something the whole digital television movement should accentuate often and always).

The government ads are promoting new channels, but broadcast networks outside the top 25 markets (with the exception of public broadcasting, ION, and affiliates owned by the big four networks) aren't really pushing the idea beyond one channel. And the broadcast industry continues to be defined by news rather than entertainment. Because it's cheaper? Because it's an outlet to showcase their political and social viewpoints? Because they want a reason to keep their news divisions and remain relevant?

I'd rather see classic comedies and dramas than 24-hours of news. And I know I'm not the only one.

1 comment:

E.A. said...

I'm for a latter point you made. They are for news because it's cheaper, and because it's profitable when they charge advertisers rates inconsistent with the quality of the program that the ads are supporting.