Sometimes television does good. It doesn't mean all will be happy. A recent Glee episode included an extended scene dramatizing a shooter in the high school while students and faculty took responsible actions to stay safe. It turns out in the program that there was no shooter though a gun was discharged on campus.
Those perhaps most qualified to comment on the appropriateness of the show, the people of Sandy Hook, contended that the episode was too soon after the massacre. Others suggest that the episode keeps the issue front and center. The show was written before Sandy Hook happened. The terror was recreated well. Was it too soon after the massacre or was Fox serving to dramatize the effects of such violence? I am unqualified to have a conclusion. Fox did include a vague warning at the beginning of the show that the episode involved school violence. Glee dealt with a fear we all now share. Since Columbine there have been 31+ massacres. Was Glee too soon or too real? Or both?
The ratings for Glee jumped 20% for the episode. However, on April 18, Glee lost in the ratings to a rerun of The Big Bang Theory. Perhaps the most shocking news is that the five combined networks (apparently there is a CW network that airs various programming) got a combined rating of 9.1. This means that fewer than one out of ten viewers watched a broadcast network at that time. This compares to a combined rating of 90 for three broadcast networks a few decades ago.
A recent study found that five million homes have become "zero TV homes." These homes have no antenna, no cable, satellite or other television program provider. That is up from two million such homes in 2007. They watch everything they want to on their computers. Some folks I spoke to have a large HDTV. It is hooked up to their computers to watch whatever they want online.
Cable bills are too high. There is so much available on the internet. There are many reasons to go to zero-TV. Perhaps if viewers didn't have to sit through 20 minutes of commercials per hour, they would be more patient? Perhaps broadcasters (and cable) could air fewer commercials, charge more for each and make just as much money?
If there were fewer commercials and shorter breaks, I would not be as prone to going to Weather Channel. I will keep TV in my home for various reasons I have rationalized. I love watching sports. I love watching Walking Dead. HBO does amazing documentaries and PBS has some great shows. It just ain't worth $100+, as my wife reminds me once a month when the bill comes.
Broadcast TV may be just a memory anyway if Fox goes through with its threat. And the FCC is aware of this threat and responded publicly. More about this in part 3 of "What's Changing in the Media?"