Since AIM founder Reed Irvine hired me out of college in 1978, amazing changes have taken place in the media landscape. Reed’s penetrating analysis of liberal media bias encouraged the search for alternatives. People became skeptical of what was piped into their homes. The days when world government advocate and anti-defense liberal Walter Cronkite was the most trusted man in America faded fast.
Still, the bias persists. One can understand President Donald Trump’s disgust with such Comcast properties as MSNBC, while hoping that the President would take some time proposing alternatives. The good news he should proclaim is that conservative alternative networks are becoming more widely available through the emergence of Internet streaming devices such as Roku and a phenomenon called cord-cutting.
National Cut the Cord Day on July 7 is an example of what’s happening to the media landscape.
But don’t look for “Morning Joe” to advertise alternatives to the anti-Trump fare offered up on a regular basis by MSNBC or CNN.
Cord-cutting is defined as “the practice of canceling or forgoing a cable television subscription or landline telephone connection in favor of an alternative Internet-based or wireless service.” Published reports indicate that roughly 300,000 cable subscribers per month are dropping their cable TV, and that pace is accelerating.
Port Orange, Florida television producer Jerry Kenney is an expert in the field. “Viewers around the world can watch thousands of free channels on their TVs using a $29 Internet-connected Roku device,” Kenney notes. Roku is the leader of a flood of new OTT “over-the-top” cable boxes that deliver TV over the Internet and not through the cable company’s cable TV box. These Roku devices can be bought at local stores like Walmart or Best Buy.
The sources of news and information available through Roku span the ideological spectrum, and some of the conservative channels are free. For those conservatives disappointed with the left-ward drift of Fox News, Roku is your vehicle.
What’s more, the website InstantTVChannel.com allows anyone to “build a complete Roku (TV) channel in 5 minutes or less!”
For viewers who want to stay with the legacy cable networks like HGTV, Fox News and CNN, DirecTV Now offers 60 cable channels for $35 a month delivered over the Internet, and no dish is needed. It can save consumers hundreds of dollars a year.
Kenney says that industry insiders know that the worst is yet to come for the dying cable TV business. He says, “I believe that most cable companies would rather not bother with TV anyway. There is far more money in selling overpriced Internet service to customers who only have one or two companies to buy it from. And now that our Federal government allows cable companies to track our every move on the Internet, even without our consent, they will be making more money than ever before selling our private information.”
Roku TV, or a television set with Roku streaming built-in, is also becoming more popular. Roku TV models are manufactured and sold by Element, Hisense, Hitachi, Insignia, Sharp and TCL.
Of these, TCL (The Creative Life), a Chinese Brand, now offers a 55-inch Roku TV for only $649.
Hence, consumers have the Chinese to thank for bringing more diversity and lower cost to programming choices to America.
We can decry the lack of choices in China while recognizing that the story of TCL’s founder is a fascinating one, and that the company’s product line benefits consumers in the United States.
Li Dongsheng, founder and chairman of TCL, “grew up in communist China during Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, a period when there was no opportunity for young people,” his bio says. “Despite being an excellent student in high school, after graduation Li was sent to work on an agricultural cooperative for three years doing hard manual labor. He labored at a fish farm during the day, secretly read books every night, and hoped that change would come. Fortunately, it did—Deng Xiaoping introduced his Open Door policy in 1977…”
That policy opened China to economic development and foreign investment, and led to rapid economic growth. Today, TCL is a company with $16 billion in sales. “We are America’s fastest-growing TV brand and the third largest TV manufacturer in the world,” the company says.
TCL received Winegard’s Cord Cutter Certified Platinum Award, which recognizes TCL Roku TVs “as a vital supplement to streaming and a great way to access popular network TV and live sports in high definition over the air at no additional cost.”
The cable giants won’t publicize their less expensive and more diverse competitors. But National Cut the Cord Day is coming up and National Streaming Day (May 20) has already taken place. It, too, highlighted the alternatives available to viewers. The first Roku player was shipped on that date in 2008. Eventually, Roku says, all TV will be streamed.
Roku is an American private company run by Anthony Wood, who invented the digital video recorder (DVR.) Roku ended 2016 with over 13 million monthly active accounts.
The move toward streaming television is so powerful that an online publication called Cord Cutters News is devoted to it.
News consumers, including even President Trump, can continue to protest the liberal media bias emanating from channels owned by such giants as Comcast. But another important option that should be publicized is cancelling your subscriptions to expensive pay television channels, and getting your news and information through a streaming device like Roku.