Hugh Pickens writes "Alan D. Mutter writes on his 'Reflections of a Newsosaur' blog that the economics of local broadcasting may begin to unravel as dramatically in the next five years as they did for newspapers in the last five years, due to the unparalleled consumer choice made possible by a growing mass of (mostly free) content on the Internet. 'Once it becomes as easy and satisfying to view a YouTube video on your 50-inch television as it is to watch "Two and a Half Men," audiences will fragment to the point that local broadcasters will not be able to attract large quantities of viewers for a particular program,' writes Mutter. The economics of cable TV programming already are geared to serving small but targeted niches, but as audiences shatter, those options won't be available to local broadcasters, who will be deprived of the vast reach that enabled the high ad rates and enviable profits long associated with their businesses. Although barely 8% of US households had access to IPTV in 2009, this technology is likely to be available to some 20% of the more than 100 million homes subscribing to pay-television services in 2014, according to senior analyst Lee Ratliff of iSuppli, a private market research company. 'We already have gotten a hint of what the future could hold. Acting to trim spending during the recession, many local stations cut back their news staffs, resulting in a decline in the caliber and depth of their coverage,' writes Mutter."
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