In order to undermine laws against indecency on the public airwaves, broadcast network executives love to claim that broadcast TV is no longer as “uniquely pervasive” as it once was. But such statements fail to reflect the growing numbers of people who ONLY watch over-the-air TV.
As a recent report from the Media Post points out, in just the last year, more than 6 million Americans dropped their cable and satellite subscriptions and switched to watching TV only over-the-air. And the trend away from pay-TV is increasing; the rise in broadcast-only TV viewers is nearly 40% higher than four years ago.
While minorities and lower-income families are the majority of those watching broadcast-only (presumably as a cost-saving measure), a growing number – currently, about 28% — are affluent young people, who simply have no desire to shell out over a thousand dollars a year for hundreds of channels they never watch.
In the article, the senior vice-president of GfK Media (a media marketing and research firm) stated that “Over-the-air households continue to grow, making up an increasingly sizable portion of television viewers. Our research reveals that over-the-air broadcasting remains an important distribution platform of TV programming.”
These facts are particularly relevant in the debate over broadcast indecency law. While network bosses argue that broadcasting isn’t a big deal, in fact it is a growing medium…and it remains uniquely ubiquitous and accessible, particularly to children.