Huckleberries Online

I want my free TV!

Shoppers walk past televisions on display in the electronics department of a Wal-Mart store in Rogers, Ark. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is upgrading its beef, clothing, electronics and home accessories while sprucing up its stores.Associated Press photos (Associated Press photos / The Spokesman-Review)
Shoppers walk past televisions on display in the electronics department of a Wal-Mart store in Rogers, Ark. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is upgrading its beef, clothing, electronics and home accessories while sprucing up its stores.Associated Press photos (Associated Press photos / The Spokesman-Review)

NEW YORK – 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.

The business model is unraveling at ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox and the local stations that carry the networks' programming. Cable TV and the Web have fractured the audience for free TV and siphoned its ad dollars. The recession has squeezed advertising further, forcing broadcasters to accelerate their push for new revenue to pay for programming.

That will play out in living rooms across the country. The changes could mean higher cable or satellite TV bills, as the networks and local stations squeeze more fees from pay-TV providers such as Comcast and DirecTV for the right to show broadcast TV channels in their lineups. The networks might even ditch free broadcast signals in the next few years. Instead, they could operate as cable channels — a move that could spell the end of free TV as Americans have known it since the 1940s.

Is this Rupert Murdoch's fault?




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Cindy Hval
Cindy Hval is a freelance columnist for the Voices neighborhood sections. Her Front Porch column appears twice a month in the Thursday Voice.









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