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Changing Trends in “Free TV” by Michael Newman


The article ‘Free TV: File-Sharing and the Value of Television’ by Newman (2012) focused on the changing trend in the circulation of television programs. In this article, the researcher notes that since its invention, television has always been free for the audience.

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The content has been delivered to the mass through the broadcast method, and traditionally this is what television entails. Inasmuch as the audience believes that television programs are free, they are actually paying in terms of buying products advertised on this platform. A new form of television dissemination is emerging in modern society where all the advertisements are eliminated. Audience can follow their favorite television programs without the unnecessary and sometimes annoying interruptions, which are often common in the traditional model of a television broadcast. The new approach gives more value to the audience.

However, it is important to note that it also comes with a number of challenges that this author has identified. In this paper, the researcher seeks to analyze other scholarly articles which have the same arguments as those presented in this primary article. The following are the questions that will be addressed in this paper.

Do the second reading, and my additional scholarly source provide additional evidence or support for the arguments that the author of the first reading is making?


In the article by Newman (2012), the primary aim was “to understand TV file-sharing as one term in the negotiation of television’s value during the contemporary period” (p. 465). The scholar contends that emerging trends in television technology are shifting the value of television to the audience. The article tries to identify the new value that is created with the use of peer-based television file sharing through the internet.

The additional two scholarly sources also look at this topic, though from different perspectives. It is clear that although these three articles have their distinct way of approaching the issue, they share some fundamental principles about the changing trends in the field of television, and it will be necessary to look at these shared views.

According to Newman (2012), “the culture of file sharing is part of a wider development in which TV is shifting its location on the cultural hierarchy from low and disreputable to a more legitimated level” (p. 465). This scholar argues that there is a shift in the cultural hierarchy under the new approaches which are becoming popular. In the traditional context, viewers had no option when it comes to the programs they want to watch.

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The broadcasters made an effort to ensure that the cultural values of the highly diversified society are adequately covered. Even in modern society, television broadcasters still have to balance their programs to cover the diversified culture in society. Diversity is also experienced in terms of age-appropriate content. Young children love cartoons, teenagers love thriller movies, and women love soap operas, while men love football (Kenyon & Wright, 2006). This is a generalized classification of people of different ages based on their perceived interests in television. Television broadcasters are forced to have programs that are able to meet the needs of these different groups of audiences.

Under the new P2P circulation of television content, this problem is solved. Programs are shared by peers who have similar tastes in terms of their preferences. This idea is supported by Kenyon and Wright (2006), who argue that the content of television has become highly individualized in order to meet the specific needs of the target audience. In the past, one would be forced to change from one television program to another, looking for a program that is very relevant to their needs.

However, that is no longer the case in the modern P2P circulation of the content. One can now watch programs without disruptions of commercials, and unnecessary content meant for a different demographical group. Kenyon and Wright (2006) argue that the user has been given the independence and power to choose what to watch and when to watch it. They no longer have to be bored with programs that target broader socio-cultural settings or other demographical classification.

Although it comes with additional cost in terms of hardware and internet connectivity, it is a technology that many people have come to embrace, especially teenagers and young adults who are sometimes restricted in terms of the content of the programs they can watch in the traditional television programs. It is clear that the arguments put forth by Newman (2012) about highly individualized contents shared in P2P television circulations are shared by Kenyon and Wright (2006) in their article ‘Television as Something Special’.

Traditionally, television has been considered a public good that is available for consumption to everyone as long as it is broadcasted by the media stations. However, the new trend of P2P television circulation is taking a whole new dimension that is very different from what used to be the case before. According to Newman (2012), “file-sharing is located in the space of transition from television’s status as a public good to a private good” (p. 465).

The scholar argues that when one takes a program and modifies it to meet the needs of a specific demographic, the ownership of such contents changes from public to private. The person who has modified such content now takes over the ownership. He or she will have sole discretion about whom, how, and when to disseminate the content. The Article by Kenyon and Wright (2012) talks about the concerns of copyright concerns associated with P2P television content circulation.

In most of the cases, the content that these people modify and share are copyrighted either by the broadcasters or by the producers. The producers intend to make profits from such programs. They allow the media companies to broadcast their programs because they get some royalties. However, the new circulation approach earns them nothing. In fact, sometimes their contents get modified in a manner that may not be in line with the theme they wanted to present. For instance, the modified content may include a song that is popular among a given cultural group that is targeted with the program.

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The theme of the song may be relevant to the target group, but it may not have the same message that the producers of the content had in mind. These are some of the legal challenges that arise due to the personalization and modification of these programs. The scholars argue that the legal community is yet to come up with legal measures that can adequately address this problem that is caused by emerging technologies (Kenyon & Wright, 2006).

It is believed that emerging technology is going to promote the dissemination of television content through this approach. Inasmuch as the content is shared for free without the intent of gaining an economic advantage, it still defies the spirit of copyright laws that prohibits sharing such contents without the express permission from the original owner. Kenyon and Wright (2006) also talk about the transfer of ownership of the modified content and the controversies associated with it.

It is still not legally clear whether the original owner of the modified file has any legal claims on the content once he or she shares it with friends. However, the two articles have the same view about the privatization of television programs under the current internet-based approach that has become very popular among the teenagers and young adults.

In this article, Newman (2012) talks about the geographical coverage of the traditional and modern communication technologies. Television broadcast has often been restricted by factors such as geographical distance, language, and sometimes culture. However, this is changing under the P2P content circulation approach. Newman (2012) also argues that “P2P circulation of television content challenges the local and national basis of television’s traditional institutions, replacing it with a new global and cosmopolitan world of media flows” (p. 465).

This scholar says that the new system has completely eliminated these barriers. Peers can modify content and make it available to people from diverse languages so that the language barrier is eliminated. The use of internet in circulating the television content means that the geographic barrier that existed before under the traditional approach is eliminated.

Peers can share these programs irrespective of their geographic locations in the world. The freedom to modify the content gives the peers power to make the content appeal to the international community. The content can be adjusted, new information introduced, or the language slightly changed to fit the needs of varying target audience. Sometimes the modification may be offensive to a section of the society that do not ascribe to the beliefs and practices of the group.

This argument is supported by Shaw (2014) who says that that internet has given people power to do more than what they could before. This article laments that internet is full of jerks because of the new ability that people have of creating contents and posting them whenever they feel it is necessary. Shaw (2014) argues that feminism is yet to be appreciated in the modern era of internet even after the numerous programs meant to empower women. The author says that some of the contents shared in the internet are modified to a wrong impression that women are weak beings who must rely on men to achieve any form of success.


The first article that was reviewed critically looks at the new trend of sharing television content through the internet. The article looks at the advantages and challenges associated with it, and how the society is responding to this new platform of sharing television content. The two other articles that were reviewed provide additional support for the arguments that the author of the first reading is making. The three articles contend that the emerging technologies are transforming the platform through which people are receiving television content. They also believe that the trend will not come to a halt soon, and therefore, the society should be ready to deal with this new trend.

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Kenyon, A., & Wright, R. (2006). Television as Something Special: Content Control Technologies and Free-to-Air TV. Melbourne University Law Review, 30(1) 339-369

Newman, M. (2012). Free TV: File-Sharing and the Value of Television. Television & New Media, 13(6), 463-79.

Shaw, A. (2014). The Internet Is Full of Jerks, Because the World Is Full of Jerks: What Feminist Theory Teaches Us About the Internet. Communication and Critical/ Cultural Studies, 11(3), 273-277.

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