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The Likely Death of Network Television
Shortly after the end of World War II my father came home one day and asked us to help him get a box out of his car. We managed to get it into the living room where he opened it. What joy we felt! There was a 13″ black and white television! Since we lived in the New York area we had the choice of five TV stations.
Over the years there were programs I thoroughly enjoyed watching and, over time, the TV stations proliferated no matter where I lived. Cable stations came into being and increased our choices but it also became necessary to pay for what we chose. Recently another change became apparent. In some areas and under some conditions it was essential to watch only the original network stations.
Then most recently I began experiencing something disturbing. Often I knew I wanted something different to watch and there were times when I was cruising through the choices. And I noted there were times when it was impossible to see what was available because the commercials were unevenly spaced across the channels. I cruised but often could find no evenly spaced broadcasts. I had to spend seemingly endless amounts of time looking for what was on each station. I began to time the commercials and found, for example, that in the afternoon the half hour programs might be half commercials and the most desirable choices had similar problems.
My original joy of television has been replaced in many cases with distaste and I began to make more and more choices about what to do other than watch television.
But there may be a possible future. The original television stations and much of cable has become filled with undesirable choices or we find ourselves lost. From time to time there may be a new set of options and it is not seeming that the channel networks are aware of an unstable or possibly unlikely future for themselves. For most of us, we may find our options will simply become more costly or we will be confined to seemingly endless commercials. Of course we may seek new and enriching alternatives and that is the challenge.