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Wednesday, 20 April 2011



This is surprising, though not shocking.

I actually think that if a veteran (of sorts) like Minow can't get it right, it points to the very weakness of the system.

At one time, the "localness" of stations was a huge benefit, as local production and community engagement was fairly deep and wide -- more so than any national cable channel or even PBS itself. But stations faced with financial difficulties over the years hocked their local capacity again and again and the TV engineers' and producers' need for video and audio and overall production perfection raised costs, dropped production volumes and transferred money to the national producers and distributors.

What was left was a fundraising outpost with only a sheen of localness left in most stations. The strength of distributed action was lost.

To reinvigorate local TV in the traditional ways, would be extraordinarily expensive -- the gear, the talent. Can't be done with federal dollars under fire. And local fundraising is impossible. "Give money to you to do what? What have you done for the community lately?"

And now, as local stations go dark and have trouble raising money, the national service is threatened. The best way to preserve the national service (at least in the short run) is consolidation -- exactly what Minow proposes. But that's not possible due to the extremely distributed nature of the system and the fact that the national entity is controlled by this multi-headed hydra.

Strength turns to weakness. Coordinated action turns into every man (and every Board of Directors, composed of the biggest egos in each town and burgh) for himself.

Discovery doesn't have this problem. Nor does C-SPAN.

Local media must scale downward to sustainable levels. National media must be released from the local/national bargain struck 30 years ago.

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