Independent radio is a similar concept with regards to community radio stations, although with a slightly different meaning as many non-"indie" commercial broadcasting radio stations produce the vast majority of their own programming, perhaps retaining only a nominal affiliation with a radio network for news updates or syndicated radio programming.
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Various types of independent stations exist in both commercial and non-commercial broadcast television:. During the s and s, independent stations filled their broadcast hours with movies, sports, cartoons, filmed travelogues , and some locally produced television programs , including in some instances newscasts and children's programs.
Independents that were on the air during this period would sign-on at times later than that of stations affiliated with a television network, some not doing so until the early or mid-afternoon hours. Another source of programming became available to independent stations by the mids: reruns of network programs which, after completing their initial runs, were sold into syndication.
As cable television franchises began to be incorporated around the United States during the s and s, independent stations from large and mid-sized markets were imported by these systems via wire or microwave relay to smaller media markets , which often only had stations that were affiliated with the Big Three television networks ABC , NBC and CBS ; these independents became the first " superstations ," which were distributed on a statewide or regional basis. By the start of the s, independent stations typically aired children's programming in the morning and afternoon hours, and movies and other adult-oriented shows some stations aired paid religious programs during the midday hours.
They counterprogrammed local network-affiliated stations' news programs with syndicated reruns — usually sitcoms and hour-long dramas — in the early evening, and movies during prime time and late night hours. In some areas, independent stations carried network programs that were not aired by a local affiliate. In larger markets such as New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles , independent stations benefited from a ruling by the Federal Communications Commission FCC that barred network-affiliated stations within the top 50 television markets from airing network-originated programs in the hour preceding prime time.
This legislation, known as the Prime Time Access Rule , was in effect from to , and as a result independents faced less competition for syndicated reruns.
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Network stations aired their late newscasts an hour later. From the late s through the mids, independent stations in several U. Independents usually ran the services during the evening and overnight hours in lieu of running movies and other programs acquired off the syndication market by the station, although a few eventually began to carry these services for most of the broadcast day. The services required the use of decoder boxes to access the service's programming some of which were fairly easy to unencrypt due to the transmission methods stations used to scramble the signal during the service's broadcast hours ; some required the payment of an additional one-time fee to receive events and adult films.
As cities added cable franchises, thus allowing people to subscribe to conventional premium television networks like HBO and Showtime , nearly all of the over-the-air subscription services had shuttered operations by the end of the s.
Unbelievers and Prime Time Television by Dan Barker (June 1995)
Until the late s, independent stations were usually limited to the larger American television markets, due to several factors. Most smaller markets did not have a large enough population to support four commercial stations. Even in markets that were large enough to support a fourth station, the only available license was on a UHF channel allocation. During the analog television era, the reception quality of UHF stations was not nearly as good as stations on the VHF band, especially in areas with rugged terrain the reverse is true in the present day with the transmission of digital signals.
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Since independent stations had to buy an additional 16 hours of programming per day — a burden not faced by network-affiliated stations — these factors made prospective owners skittish about signing on a television station as an independent. By the s, however, cable television had gained enough penetration to make independent stations viable in smaller markets.
Nearly independent stations existed in the United States by the mids, in markets of varying sizes. In the s, television syndicators began offering original, first-run series such as Fame , Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous , Star Search and Star Trek: The Next Generation as well as cancelled network series revived for first-run syndication such as Too Close for Comfort , Charles in Charge and It's a Living , and made-for-television movies and miniseries like Sadat.
This trend primarily benefited independent stations. Independents scheduled these first-run programs during prime time and on weekends. In the United States, many independent stations were commonly owned. Companies that operated three or more independents included:. In several independent outlets, led by the Metromedia stations, formed the Fox Broadcasting Company ,   the first major venture at a fourth U. Fox made efforts, slowly at first, to have its affiliates emulate a network programming style as much as possible; but in turn, Fox only carried a late-night talk show at its launch in October , and beginning in April , offered one night of prime time programming a week on Sundays.
The network only programmed two hours of prime time programming each night and, beginning in the s, some children's programming through Fox Kids , but gradually expanded its prime time lineup to all seven nights until January The lack of programming in other dayparts forced most Fox affiliates to maintain the same programming model as independent stations during non-prime time slots, and during its early years, on nights without prime time programming from the network. Fox coerced most of its affiliates to air prime time newscasts there were some holdouts as late as , while many others opted to run outsourced local newscasts from a competing network affiliate as well as news programming in other dayparts common with other major network affiliates.
WSVN in Miami was the first to deviate from the independent-style format of other Fox stations, choosing to expand its news programming when it joined the network in January to replace national newscasts and late-prime time network programs it aired as an NBC affiliate; this model was replicated by the major network stations owned by New World Communications and SF Broadcasting that switched to Fox in the mids , and eventually spread to other news-producing Fox and minor network affiliates and independent stations by the s.
Still, many Fox stations programmed the bulk of their days with syndicated programming which, by the s, consisted primarily of tabloid talk shows and eventually court shows in addition to sitcoms, formats that continue to be the norm for these stations into the s. In September , many independents began carrying the Prime Time Entertainment Network PTEN , an ad-hoc programming service that emulated a network model, which featured drama series and made-for-TV movies intended for first-run syndication.
The WB, UPN and their affiliates used a very similar programming model to that initially used by Fox and its stations during their first four years of existence although neither network would expand their prime time lineups to all seven nights ; the launch of those networks resulted in PTEN's demise in , as most stations that became affiliates of UPN and The WB whose respective founding parents, Chris-Craft Industries and Time Warner , jointly owned PTEN either dropped the service or moved its lineup out of prime time when those networks launched.
Other stations banded together to become charter outlets of the Pax TV now Ion Television network in August , although some of the stations that aligned with Pax had earlier affiliated with its predecessor, the Infomall TV Network inTV , two years before. The launches of these networks drastically reduced the number of independent stations in the United States; some mid-sized markets would not regain a general entertainment independent until the early s, through sign-ons of unaffiliated stations and disaffiliations by existing stations from other commercial and noncommercial networks.
Several stations affiliated with The WB and UPN became independent again when the respective parent companies of those networks Time Warner and CBS Corporation decided to shut them down to form The CW , which launched in September with a schedule dominated by shows held over from and an affiliate body primarily made up of stations previously aligned with its two predecessors.
As a result of the various network launches that have occurred since the launch of Fox, true independent stations have become a rarity. Many stations that are affiliated with the larger posts networks still behave much like independents, as they program far more hours a day than a station affiliated with one of the Big Three networks.
Current independents follow a very different program format from their predecessors. While sitcom reruns are still popular, expanded newscasts and other syndicated programs such as talk shows; courtroom shows; reruns of recent scripted comedy and drama series; and no-cost public domain programming are common.
Another type of content being added to many independent station lineups in recent years has been brokered programming , including infomercials , home shopping and televangelist programs ; the Federal Communications Commission did not allow infomercials to be broadcast on American television until , but since then, it has proven to be a lucrative, if somewhat polarizing with viewers, way to fill airtime. During the s when infomercials gained popularity, many stations began broadcasting 24 hours a day rather than signing off at night.
By filling the overnight hours with infomercials, the station would be able to generate extra revenue where they had previously been off the air. Home shopping programs mainly simulcasts of cable services that also have over-the-air distribution such as QVC and the Home Shopping Network or syndicated programs fill overnight time periods on stations that do not run infomercials during that day part. Since the FCC revised its media ownership rules to permit station duopolies in August , independents that operate on a standalone basis have become quite rare in the United States and, in turn, independents that are senior partners in duopolies are fairly uncommon.
This is because in most markets, independents tend to have lower viewership than that of a network affiliate, and usually fall within part of the FCC's duopoly criteria which allows a company to own two stations in the same market if one is not among the four highest-rated at the time of an ownership transaction. While independent stations were not as common in Canada , there were several notable examples of such:.
However, this trend was partially reversed in with the demise of Canwest 's E! However, since the fall of , these two stations previously along with CJNT have resumed sharing some common American programming.
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CJON in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, while officially unaffiliated with a network, in practice airs a mix of programming sublicensed from two of Canada's main commercial networks, CTV which it was formally affiliated with until , with only CTV's news programming being carried on the station since then and Global, rather than purchasing broadcast rights independently. However, each of these stations has a specific programming focus: educational programming in the case of the former, and multicultural programming in that of the latter.
Apart from these, some additional independent stations exist in Canada as community-oriented specialty stations. If fundamentalist Christians want to hear about a "loving Jesus," they can turn on a religious channel, or turn off the TV and go to church. If they think their image needs improving, then they should start acting in ways to improve their image. Let's face it: to most Americans, religion is boring. It makes many feel uncomfortable or embarrassed.
It is insulting to others.
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You can show people sitting in a place of worship, praying to Jesus, Mary, Yahweh, or Allah, putting money in the collection plate, singing hymns. Then what? Writers can't carry it as far as the zealots would insist without turning television into tedium. Or worse, into sacrilege. Many believers don't want the "secular media" speaking on their behalf anyway. Of course, sometimes religious expressions make sense in a show, in the context of plot and a character's motivation; but we freethinkers notice that gratuitous references to "God" or "heaven" are far too often sprinkled unnecessarily into the dialogue.
Such casual comments may seem quite natural to Christians, but they are jarring intrusions to unbelievers.
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The assumption that all viewers understand the human race to be subservient to a Master and Lord is quite unsettling to millions of us who are free to think for ourselves. We live in a country that is proudly rebellious. We are not slaves to a dictator nor sinners deserving of eternal punishment.