Inflation, Deflation: What's it gonna be?

I gotta know right now!

Listening to WQXR while doing some office chores this AM ..... At news breaks, Sam Hall is talking about deflation and sagging economies in Europe. QXR gets its news from the New York Times, so they can sometimes get kind of depressing, a sharp contrast with the soothing classical music. Dire warnings of deflation seem odd when we know the TV networks are claiming (in hopes of panicking buyers into a stampede, I guess) that there will be double digit increases in upfront cpms this year. Buyers say "no way," but most observers are betting there will in fact be a good deal of inflation in prices. How can this happen in a no inflation economy?

All commentators have remarked about the same thing: TV network audiences decline but prices go up. It's been going on for years, at least as long as I can remember, with the occasional one year downward bump in some particularly bad economic cycle (like two years ago). I pretend no expertise in what drives this marketplace year to year. But, it looks an awful lot to me like the overheated stock market of a few years ago. There was no "there" there.



I think there is no "there" here as well. It seems a lot like the last roar of a dying species to me. There are so many media options these days. Who needs the artificial frenzy over pretend programs that won't last past Halloween? But the TV industry (sell side AND buy side) seems to want to hold onto this relic of the past as long as it can. I think buyers are being lazy. There are much better alternatives for their clients' budgets than higher prices for the same old 3-week-wonders. The irony is, the median income of the increasingly down-scale audience is falling while prices are rising. Explain THAT if you can.

At their core, the broadcast networks look sick to me. I can hardly even tell the channels or the networks apart. Pam and I are apparently not in any marketer's target audience anymore, but we cannot get through more than a handful of channels before realizing there is absolutely nothing of any interest to us on any commercial network at any given time. And the problem of having to go laboriously through guides to 500 + channels to see what might be elsewhere is as exhausting as it is to channel surf among them. So, we mostly turn the TV off if it's not national news or PBS. I know, all you media types know exactly how to categorize us and what products we'll see ads for on the few shows we do watch (mostly medical remedies).

Give it to the networks, though, my 24 year daughter does go out of her way to watch The Bachelor and Joe Millionaire every time they are on. Other than that, she watches no TV at all. If you want to find her, she's real busy on the web everyday from 9:00 AM till midnight, managing her startup dance school business. And, you can also find her occasionally reading Cosmo, the local newspaper classifieds and listening to the odd (really odd!) radio station.

I am not really complaining, merely observing. I accept that in America it all happens for the best and that there is some invisible hand guiding it all to the best of all possible worlds. I just wish the moving hand, having writ all kinds of bad material, would move on quickly to finally write something that Pam and I would find watchable again.

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