But when the rules changed in 1995 the four US networks – ABC, now
owned by Walt Disney; CBS; Fox, part of News Corporation; and NBC, now
controlled by General Electric
– integrated production with their broadcast, sales and distribution
businesses. The independents began to lose ground to in-house producers.
content allows networks and studios to exploit it internationally via
syndication or DVD sales. But while broadcasters have more rights, they
also have to fund production, which is increasingly expensive. The cost
of a one-hour scripted drama has tripled from about $1m in the early
1990s to $2.7m, according to some executives. The cost of a 30-minute
comedy has doubled to around $1.5m.
This, together with
competition from cable channels, explains why the broadcasters are
taking such a hard line, says Garth Ancier, president of BBC Worldwide
America, the BBC’s commercial arm. “They are fighting for their lives.
They need every last piece to come together, every last revenue stream.”
There is much more, do read the whole thing, it also explains why cable is not the only reason why TV programs have gotten better.