Local affiliates survive temporarily as a happy accident 3/29/07Posted by Steve Boriss in Competition, Distribution, Structure.
Jeff Jarvis highlights the vulnerability of network TV’s local affiliates as the Internet decreases their value as media content distributors. The fact that local affiliates exist at all is a happy accident based on the fact that the Earth is round. Had the original TV broadcast stations established in NY been able to transmit their signals across the country, they likely would have dominated TV. But since TV signals travel in straight lines and the Earth’s surface is curved, local stations were needed for TV to penetrate America. Note that when networks were created from among these local stations, they largely chose to broadcast NY-generated content, and local affiliates’ primary role became retransmitters of NY-based, and later DC and LA-based content. On the other hand, communications technologies like the Internet are based on wire, which wraps around the curvature of the Earth, and do not require local affiliates for technical reasons. So, new technology makes the concept of local affiliates obsolete, and convergence of all media to the Internet will ultimately put local affiliates out of business.