NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

An Explosion Of Media Choices

September 10, 1999

Despite highly-publicized acquisitions of one media company by another -- such as Viacom's buyout of CBS -- competition is alive and well in the video and entertainment fields. Experts say that is because technology has spawned a vast array of new outlets.

Twenty years ago, American television viewers had a choice of just three networks -- NBC, CBS and ABC. But the picture is far different today:

  • There are now six television networks and 181 cable networks -- more than double the number of channels available just seven years ago.
  • The number of radio stations has almost doubled in the past 20 years, as has the number of magazine titles.
  • Certainly the Internet has added a vast new layer of choice -- with magazines, local newspapers and radio stations, encyclopedias, academic research and government documents all easily available.

Experts see these developments as broadening the scope of opinion and information available to viewers and voters. That is bound to enliven the world of ideas.

Source: Editorial, "Shrinking Competition? Not From a Customer's Point of View," USA Today, September 10, 1999.


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