The advent of Digital Media and User Generated Content created a lot of new challenges for broadcast media. Easy availability of free content as well as pirated versions of television network produced content for no cost, led to an exponential increase in competition for user attention.
This led to two large problems. Broadcast media companies became dependent on advertising revenue more than ever. To drive revenue, they started airing more shows that appealed to the user and engaged them until they were addicted. As this progressed, the time spent on watching television increased but the quality of information on television decreased. The original purpose of television was to provide viewers with easy and quick access to news and information from around the world. Therefore, the government ruling on this media was that they had to provide content that worked in “the public’s interest”. To give broadcast stations, the means to provide this information creatively, there were no other guidelines for content. But now content was created to keep the user engaged not informed.
The social implications of this were large. For example, there were news examples of rising cost of gasoline on every news station. They explored the reasons for it and blamed it on various factors, thus creating a compelling story about the reasons of price hike in gasoline. Television series shared jokes and passing mentions on increasing cost of gas to propagate an agenda that was not aimed at increasing social awareness of the reason and implications of price hike. However, the broadcast media failed to explain the large term implications of rising cost, the effect on our economy and business sectors as well as the effect on the average consumers. These are factors we need to concern ourselves with as they play a large part on our personal lives. Propagation of one-sided story, leads to skewed opinions in individuals. This leads to an inability to comprehend the right plan of action and thus may create an uprising that is uncalled for or a suppression when there is a necessity for a social uprising. Eventually, this lack of knowledge will create a society that is completely out of sync with the real world happenings, which can lead to very challenging situation for any economy.
In recent times, social media and user generated content has been able to break the barriers of the broadcasters and advertisers agenda of propagation. The social uprising in Egypt is a fine example of this. However, the truth remains that these channels are still wide and fragmented online and while there are means of quick propagations through channels like twitter, broadcast media has a far greater reach. Thus, it is necessary for the citizens of any country to question what the media is broadcasting to them.
Bagdikian B., (1997) The Media Monopoly. Third World Traveller, Beacon Press