The silver lining of recession


A University of Maryland professor says that a deep and prolonged recession will be good for some entertainment businesses, and the top of his list are traditional broadcast television and radio. The reason? No admission charge and no subscription charge. When people are counting their pennies, entertainment options that involve a ticket or any other kind of bill will be avoided. At home, the television set will be used more, and in the car, the radio will be turned on and tuned to local earth-based stations. The prof, Douglas Gomery, told infoZine that the prospect of tough times will not be good news for satellite radio, even with the merger.

Gomery said that there is a myth that the Great Depression in the 1930s was good for the movie business. No so – it took the war-driven economic resurgence of the 1940s to turn the business corner for Hollywood, which bottomed out in 1937. What the Depression did do is fully establish the radio industry. Although only 25% of households had a radio when the decade began, almost 100% did by the end.

Newspapers are also going to face even more trouble than they are already, he said. The reason is simply that a newspaper costs money, and even a modest newsstand charge will be enough to steer strapped consumers away.

RBR/TVBR observation: On the theory that every silver lining has a cloud, we have to wonder if there will be any advertisers out there ready and able to take advantage of a burgeoning free broadcast audience. But if he’s right, the age-old head-butting rivalry between broadcast and print may shift to a lower gear.