From three to six to ?

Essay by Anonymous UserUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, October 1996

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From Three to Six to ?

From 1960 to 1980, the "classic network system" of ABC, CBS, and NBC, dominated television. From 1980 to the present the "classic network system" began to lose their oligopoly on the television viewers of America with the popularization of cable and the uprising of three new networks. In this paper I plan to give a background on the conditions that led to the uprising of the three new networks, the differences between the networks, and an opinion as to which network will survive.

For twenty years ABC, NBC, and CBS, dominated the television industry. Their only competition was each other. Why didn't anyone decide to jump into the market to compete against these giants? Their was two main reasons why, until recently, it was virtually impossible to start up a network of your own.

The first reason no new networks were started was technology.

Until the introduction of fiber optic lines, and digital satellite systems, their was a spectrum shortage. MGM and Paramount tried to start networks in the twenties but failed mainly because of this spectrum shortage.(Hilmes, Broadcast Bottleneck) Until 1985 most cable companies had close to the maximum number of stations already filled up because of the must carry rule. "So few markets have more than three UHF channel allotments that a fourth network faced an almost insurmountable barrier"(Head/Sterling 3.10) With the new technology of the nineties, cable and satellite companies can carry as many stations as they wish.

The second, but I feel biggest, reason no new networks were started was regulations. In 1972 the FCC applied definitive rules to cable. The FCC began to apply a "must carry rule" that they enforced on cable companies. It required each cable system to carry the signals of all the significantly viewed stations...