Free TV: File-Sharing and the Value of Television | Free Essay Example

Free TV: File-Sharing and the Value of Television

Words: 1400
Topic: Entertainment & Media

Introduction to the Topic

TV-related popular culture functions on the correlations between the customer appeal to popular shows and revenues of broadcasting networks and companies. The article ‘Free TV: File-Sharing and the Value of Television’ focuses on the popular culture of sharing television files among peers through various online platforms and new media. In recent years, people have been sharing music and movies through media platforms, and the experience has become very popular.

Different products of the broadcasting industry became available online, thereby limiting the advertising profits of major TV networks, broadcasting companies, and studios. Furthermore, after the second reading of the article, it becomes clearer that the author also refers to the fact that not only such new media represent some limitations of obtaining revenues from advertising, they affect the companies’ profits from DVD sales and other subsequent sources of income.

However, on the other hand, as the audiences enjoy their shows watching them on traditional TV, they feel forced to watch the disruptive commercials in-between their beloved programs, which might intermediately result in spoiling their experience and reduce the pleasure of watching these programs.

Newman claims that the difference between the users’ experiences of watching regular TV and using various software programs for sharing TV shows via peer-to-peer services implies the popularity of the latter (Newman, 2012). Thus, using those peer-to-peer services helps users to remove the commercials from their favorite shows and share them through various online platforms.

However, it is also important to find the implications of how the peculiarities of the modern TV show content has changed in order for the users to feel different about programs they see on regular TV and via peer-to-peer platforms. Thus, for example, Rentschler in ‘Witnessing: US Citizenship and the Vicarious Experience of Suffering’ claims that all human experiences today undergo “mass-mediated depictions” (Rentschler, 2004, p. 297).

Moreover, different formats of TV programs that gain popularity nowadays also need to be accounted for in terms of the effect they produce on the audiences, the customer appeal, and the presence of interactive element between the viewers and the programs (Gillespie, 2005).

Therefore, after the second reading of Newman’s article, it is important to underline the fact that there are numerous factors influencing the relationships between audiences, traditional TV, and peer-to-peer platforms that help people share different content, including TV shows and programs.

Outline of the Author’s Thesis

One of Newman’s main ideas is that the new concept of sharing television files challenges historical and traditional TV rationale by reinventing it and presenting it in a new format that is more appropriate to the audience.

In particular, TV programs for the entire time of their existence had some limitations in terms of space and time (Newman, 2012). In other words, Newman contends that for a long time, the linkage of TV programs to the time of their broadcast has been a major issue because it meant that shows were targeted at the limited audiences. However, this is changing with the new technology since peer-to-peer platforms undermine the necessity to turn the television on for the time of broadcast.

After reading Rentschler’s ‘Witnessing: US Citizenship and the Vicarious Experience of Suffering’, however, it is also important for me to emphasize the fact that there is a much broader theme associated with the popularity of peer-to-peer technology. In particular, a growing number of people are committed to watching TV shows that are not original for their country, cultural or geographical region.

It means that using various platforms for sharing the cultural content, such as TV shows, helps to enhance the process of cultural exchange, whereas the very invention of such technological innovation as peer-to-peer software broadens the process of globalization. In other words, such technology was invented because there was an appeal for people not only watch TV shows outside the limits of their scheduled time but also explore the culture of other countries by getting familiar with the cultural products such as TV shows.

Of course, shows are often linguistically adjusted because people translate them into their languages all over the world, but the cultural component remains the same. Thus, although the TV and broadcasting companies may experience difficulties with getting the same level of revenues from advertising, they now appeal to a larger audience at the international level.

Summary of Arguments and Evidence

Newman provided a number of various arguments and evidence concerning the fact that the popularity of using peer-to-peer platforms if not only a technological but also cultural phenomenon (Newman, 2012).

Therefore, one of the main arguments that Newman underlines in his article is that the new concept of repackaging and sharing of television programs is a popular culture that cannot be ignored by the stakeholders in this field. It is not something that is likely to disappear because of the expected legal battles about copyright issues. Of course, in some countries, the introduction of peer-to-peer share resulted in producing new legislation or creating stricter laws concerning copyright infringement, but the use of such technology still gain popularity. Secondly, it is evident that a new mode of watching TV shows has made such experience more private and more adjustable since people do not depend on the broadcasting schedules.

In such a way, Rentschler (2004) claims that, in modern society, people want to watch some major political and life events happening in one country from various locations all over the planet. Such a phenomenon can be called witnessing, and it occurs when a public event is perceived by the audience from a private point of view (Rentschler, 2004, p. 299). Hence, sharing TV content through independent internet software is a part of this broader context.

Also, it is important to point out the fact that in the growing amount of sources of information, editors and broadcasters tend to pick some themes of materials, following the agenda of their broadcasting network (Gershenfeld & Vasseur, 2014). However, if the audience wants to make up their own opinion, they would probably like to watch more than one source of news, but the programs could overlap each other in the broadcasting schedule.

In the same way, entertainment shows on different channels scheduled simultaneously limit the audiences in their opportunities to watch everything they want, both news and entertainment programs (Prior, 2005). Thus, another important global theme is that society has bigger needs for information and entertainment, and peer-to-peer technology is one of the ways to provide for those needs.

Assessment of the Strengths and Weaknesses of the Article

In ‘Free TV: File-Sharing and the Value of Television’, Newman (2012) states that the practice of sharing of TV shows and broadcasting content through the Internet in general and peer-to-peer technology, in particular, has not yet been given scholars proper academic attention. The main strength of this article is that the author was able to collect information from a variety of sources despite the scarcity of research in this field.

Moreover, Newman managed to bring the study of peer-to-peer share outside its regular framework by claiming that there is more to this phenomenon than merely copyright issues and technological developments.

From such perspective, the main advantage of Newman’s ideas is that peer-to-peer technology was invented because there was a need to share content from the different media, including TV shows and broadcastings, among the people of different cultures and geographical areas. Of course, peer-to-peer technology could not be the only way to provide for the cultural need of people to enjoy TV programs, but, now, it is growing in popularity because it lacks compatible alternatives. Further research would require focusing on changes in particular TV formats that influenced the cultural need for private sharing of TV content through peer-to-peer software.


Overall, after the second reading and consulting additional scholarly sources, some implications of Newman’s article became clearer. In particular, there is a broader theme associated with the popularity of peer-to-peer technology.

The fact that a growing number of people are committed to watching TV shows that are not original for their country is a sign of globalization. Thus, using various platforms for sharing the cultural content, such as TV shows, helps to enhance the process of cultural exchange, whereas the very invention of such technological innovation as peer-to-peer software broadens the process of globalization. Researching other scholarly articles confirms that with more content on TV, audiences also have bigger demand, and peer-to-peer technology enhances accessibility.


Gershenfeld, N., & Vasseur, J. P. (2014). As Objects Go Online. Foreign Affairs, 93(2), 13-14.

Gillespie, M. (2005). Media Audiences. Maidenhead, United Kingdom: Open University Press.

Newman, M. Z. (2012). Free TV File-Sharing and the Value of Television. Television & New Media, 13(6), 463-479.

Prior, M. (2005). News Vs. Entertainment: How Increasing Media Choice Widens Gaps in Political Knowledge and Turnout. American Journal of Political Science, 49(3), 577-592.

Rentschler, C. A. (2004). Witnessing: US Citizenship and the Vicarious Experience of Suffering. Media Culture and Society, 26(2), 296-304.