Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Local and National Broadcasting in the United States

In the early years of Broadcasting in America, there was a great attempt to balance the interests of the public with the accumulation of profit.  The interests of the public varied, but with the diversity of America one common desire was for individual groups to have programming targeted at them.  In 1920, 35 percent of the population had been born abroad or had at least one parent born abroad.  Thus the only logical way to accomplish targeting this myriad of groups would be to do so with local broadcasting.  These local stations could air segments in foreign languages or focus on issues that were only pertinent to particular groups locally.  This would help many Americans keep their individuality and identity.
 But broadcasting was handled as a business in America, searching to reap a large profit.  These were found in national broadcasting.  The previously mentioned local broadcasting was not even close to as profitable as national broadcasting.  National broadcasting produced high quality network programs that networks would play and local affiliates would pay to use.  These same programs would be aired all across the country.  The affiliates would pay a flat fee for commercial programs and pay in full for sustaining programs.  Eventually, sponsors would begin to supply the networks to programs.  But the important concept to take from this is that sponsors made network programs and national broadcasting incredibly profitable at the cost of losing individuality.
The United States of America made a valiant attempt to balance their desire for large profits with their will to provide a service for public interest, which directly correlates to their attempt to balance local broadcasting and national broadcasting.  First, local stations were able to exist thanks to the creation of the Class B license that allows broadcasters to change locations.  In large cities, there would exist from 5 to 10 locally operated radio stations that could air products aimed toward target under represented audiences.  Even if some of these local stations did purchase some network programs, they were free to keep parts of their day open to provide locally focused programming, thus making some profit and providing some public interest.  This is the main way that America found a balance.  Another way was to deliver public interest through network programs, being that providing great programming is a public service.

Information from the book "NBC: America's Network," edited by Michele Hilmes. 

No comments:

Post a Comment