More Americans Live Under The Poverty Line -- But What About The Entertainment-Consuming Line?

A record number of Americans -- some 46.2 million -- now live under the poverty line. That's 15.1% of all who live in the U.S, or a little less than one-sixth of the total.

Comcast, meanwhile, has just started offering a $10-per-month discount Internet package (as well as discount netbook computers) to many poor Americans). But don't think this is entirely philanthropic. Comcast agreed to the plan as part of its FCC conditions in buying a majority stake in NBC Universal.

The controversial issue, as always, is if the growing power and influence of fewer big TV and media player will end up resulting in higher costs for TV and entertainment. Supply and demand? Big media companies can demand more, because they have more of the supply. That's the problem.

Much of Comcast's new FCC-pushed plan is designed to make sure people continue to have the tools for education. Access to the Internet isn't the end all and be all of education, but it's obviously a growing tool.



Then, of course, there is entertainment. Poor people have mediocre jobs, part-time jobs, or no jobs. They are at home -- watching TV perhaps? Does that help Comcast? Perhaps if they watch an NBC Universal network on their Internet-enabled computers, they'll buy products -- the ones they can afford -- hawked by its TV advertisers.

Some studies have shown that even in tough recessionary times, the last thing that struggling -- but perhaps not technically poverty-marked families -- want to part with is the leisure time news and entertainment in their living room.

A government-sponsored coupon plan to make sure even lower-income families were connected to over-the-air digital TV via converters was a slow but gradual success.

There is no reason why Comcast's effort can't cover the same ground, the same way. Will that get more people off the poverty rolls? Not right away. Might it make them smarter? Hopefully, yes.

2 comments about "More Americans Live Under The Poverty Line -- But What About The Entertainment-Consuming Line? ".
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  1. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, September 14, 2011 at 8:08 p.m.

    Interesting note. That brings up a non-sequitor for me.

    While the internet enthusiasts are preaching about how they've seen the beginning of "cable cutting" - and the numbers they're seeing are small - in the few hundred thousand.

    There's no better motivation for cable cutting than poverty (or the drop of 6% in average income).

    If so, then it's not likely long term cable cutting. Cutting back to save money generally means that once income returns, they'll sign back up again.

    And that means, a significant portion of cable cutting behavior may not actually be the cable cutting they're choosing to believe it is - but just people cutting back because they can't afford it.

    Just a theory - but one that the internet enthusiasts aren't likely to keep their minds open to see.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, September 14, 2011 at 9:34 p.m.

    $10 now, before taxes and surcharges. The way Comcast raises prices, this is nothing but a ruse. The poverty line will not improve so fast with the possibility of a Hoover drop back. Libraries could make a come back.

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