Mass Media’s Dying Grunt

Posted by Hanson Hosein:

We’ve often discussed how we’re witnessing the death of industrialized, mass media. For those who might recall, this top-down form of communication, involved massive technical resources, high barriers to entry, and a captive market of millions of eyeballs. Network TV, in particular, reached its peak in the 1970’s with ratings grabbers like “Roots,” “60 Minutes” and “M*A*S*H.”

Now this interesting article, “Broadcast Networks Under Siege” notes that the disastrous May “sweeps” [begins] “to look like a signal moment in the slow, painful meltdown of the broadcast-TV industry.”

My former brethren in the TV industry have yet to reach the state of panic their colleagues in print have been suffering through for the last few years. That’s partly because TV has still been attracting big ad dollars — seen as the last bastion of large-scale audiences.

But the long-protracted writers’ strike, combined with an aging demographic leads to this very telling statement:

Broadcasting, simply put, isn’t casting broadly anymore. As the sweep suggests, the TV networks are losing not just their viewers but also their sense of specialness. They’re becoming just the lowest numbers on the multichannel dial, rather than the last outposts of mass culture. It’s true that this evolution has been happening for years, but this year a tipping point was reached, a Rubicon crossed. Broadcast exceptionalism — its supposed immunity from the market forces afflicting all other media — is finally dead.

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