Everyone has cable or satellite anyway,right? That’s the argument that comes up whenever someone talks about broadcast TV… real, actual broadcast TV that people pick up with an antenna. There’s a lot of buzz about whether or not broadcast TV should just go away, replaced with the internet or cell phone data or something else. Fox and CBS are threatening to leave broadcasting forever — like that’s going to happen — and that’s re-ignited the debate over broadcast TV.
Let’s talk first about the “cons.”
Broadcasting is expensive. A lot of money is spent on programming, creating, and broadcasting local TV. One of the biggest expenses is the actual broadcasting itself; imagine five thousand 100-watt bulbs burning all at once and you get an idea of the energy it takes to power a transmitter. That doesn’t come cheap.
Broadcasting doesn’t serve the public. Many complain that broadcasting isn’t local enough or fast enough, that twitter and youtube do a much better job of serving people’s need for instant information. Broadcasters cover a large area and don’t always get into smaller neighborhoods.
Live TV has commercials. Honestly, there’s no good spin on this. This is 2013 and sitting through commercials is a real drag.
Now, let’s talk about what antenna TV does bring to the table.
Broadcasting works when the power is out in your neighborhood. You may lose cell service and internet, but as long as the broadcast tower is operating and you have a battery-powered TV you are set. It’s that simple.
Broadcasters are REQUIRED to serve the public. It’s true that twitter may get your neighborhood news faster, but no one on twitter is actually being forced to do public interest programming. Part of the broadcaster’s license is the requirement to do a certain amount of public interest programming.
Commercials are good for business. OK, no one is going to tell you that commercials are fun or that you should watch them out of some sort of civic responsibilities, but local commercials are a way for the businesses in your city or town to stay alive. It’s harder than ever for the little guy. Without local broadcasting it would be hard to even advertise. What are they going to do… go to the newspaper?
Broadcast TV is important because it is the fastest way to reach the largest number of people efficiently. Cell phones may one day take that crown but for now, antenna TV is king. We recommend that every home within the range of any broadcast station have an antenna even for backup. In case there is an emergency, cable or satellite may not work.