Commerce and Culture

9. When is a Network Not a Network?

Commerce and Culture
Paul A. Cantor

Television is not better because you don’t want it to be. The relation of government and television and movies are certainly not free markets, just relatively free markets. TV has always been in a regulated environment. TV is licensed by the federal government.

Movies were incredibly freer, allowing them to develop quickly in their first thirty years. Novels surged beyond poetry because no one was noticing. New media will be inventive, experimental and competitive.

The history of TV is the history of deregulation because it began so regulated. TV was less creative. It is a good case for free market supported art rather than government supported art. Reality TV comes mainly from Europe. The Prisoner and The Avenger – both great TV -came out of private TV.

Networks want the largest audiences and, thus, cater to the lowest common denominator. Three stations were not enough. Fox was the network that was not a network. Fox was not considered a network because of too few hours. This freed Fox from limitations by the SEC. Murdoch was a risk-taking entrepreneur. Cable and satellite changed the system. TV is powerful proof of the commercial culture.

Lecture 9 of 10 from Paul Cantor’s Commerce and Culture.