Sunday, July 31, 2011

Debt crisis could jeopardize Free TV in Rochester; do we care?


If you are still one of those luddites like me who can only get local Television by antenna (via the digital converter box, of course), there is the threat that that this free service that we have known ‘forever’ is going to be gone. The great wailing and gnashing of teeth has begun on local TV and from the sounds it, it’s pretty serious. Check this out:

Debate over debt ceiling could impact local TV viewing | “The debate over raising the debt ceiling and cutting spending could have an impact on TV viewing. Some of the proposals in Washington include allowing the FCC to reduce the airwaves used by local TV stations including ours” (July 28, 2011)


Is "Free TV" coming to an end in the Rochester area? - Local News - Rochester, NY - The president of the New York State Broadcaster's Association believes one of the plans to resolve the debt ceiling crisis could put an end to free, "over the air" television in the Rochester area. Dave Donovan says a proposed auction to sell broadcast frequency space used by television stations to cell phone companies would knock four of the five Rochester TV stations off the air. (July 30, 2011)

But would it be a travesty to lose this ‘free’ service that is, of course, riddled with ads? What would we miss if local TV just died? We’d miss all those local sports scores, all those gory accidents that our unsustainable and unsafe transportation system fosters, all those pets being abused, those weather reports that still deny Climate Change (despite the recent heat wave’s relationship to Climate Change predictions). And, allegedly, we’d miss all those public service announcements that are provided for the public interest--not.

In short, what we’d miss is not much except a deluge of non-news and non-weather that has little relevance to important matters that the public needs to know. When is the last time you saw our local TV investigate an environmental problem or explain how Climate Change will happen here? When is the last time you heard a report about the local concerns about possible hydrofracking in our area, or safety and maintenance issues involving local nuclear power plants? When is the last time you heard or watched a program on the miserable foreclosures endured by those who did not cause our economic problems?

Mostly, local TV is run by corporations who are pushing their agenda: Laissez-faire Capitalism not only provides you with a lot of neat stuff, in fact it solves everything. The message from those free signals now in trouble is that everyone is doing just fine during this economic crisis, getting all the jobs and medical care they need

Let’s be honest: Local TV is a great wasteland that numbs the mind. Local free TV does little to provide what the public needs to know to be an informed citizen, like how to recycle properly. They don’t remind vehicle owners, whose business they constantly solicit, to let bikes share our roadways too.

The media throughout the world is in crisis. And the Internet is not wholly to blame. The media, bought up and consolidated by ideologue media moguls, provide the public with nonsense they don’t need and little of what they do. There is an outcry for critical information that is being met by bloggers and new media concepts like ProPublica.

We need information for folks in all walks of life in order to have a decent democracy and a clean and sustainable environment. But the corporate media, who have dominated those free antenna bandwidths, have squandered this resource by filling those airwaves with rubbish not fit for a society as resourceful and intelligent as ours.

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