Like gluttons for punishment, every year we anticipate the release of the cable subscriber numbers from the MA Department of Telecommunications and Cable. It’s odd, don’t you think, that we so keenly anticipate something that we know is going to be bad news? Yet, there we are, every March, checking the website daily and hoping to be the first to deliver the bad news to the rest of the downtrodden. I guess that’s the unwanted side-effect of years of stern warnings and doom prophecies – this acceptance of one’s own demise.
And now, it’s all right there in front of us. 10% loss in cable subscriptions in one year from the end of 2021 to the end of 2022. That decrease was 8% in 2021, 7% in 2020, 4% in 2019 and 3% in 2018. Get the picture? As community media professionals, we reserve the right to be shocked at these trends while as rational humans, we’re not surprised at all. I mean, we knew it was coming, right?
I was listening to a podcast today and the gist of the episode was that we’re all so busy in routine that we don’t take the time to think of larger things going on around us like UFOs. Don’t judge. My point is that routine isn’t enough anymore. Even staring up at the sky twice a month for those flittering lights isn’t enough anymore. Advocacy for our own survival has to be part of your routine…every day.
What can you do, you say? I thought you’d never ask. I’ve come prepared with some ideas on what you can do to improve the health of community media in your town and in our state. Try them. They’ll make you feel good.
- Share THIS RELEASE with your Mayor…your Town Manager…your Select Board…your Parks & Rec…your neighbor and his cat. Anyone and everyone. More people understanding the plight is not a bad idea. I understand that making them CARE about it is an entirely different challenge, but making them aware of it is step one.
- Make a PSA. Use the resources you already have to make people aware of the issue you face. Don’t know how to do it? Call me. I’ll come over and do it with you.
- Call other centers in your area to see what they’re up to. Maybe they’re doing cool stuff that you can do at your center to improve engagement. Or maybe they’re not a member of MassAccess and don’t get to read hilarious blog posts. Share with them. We all need to be strong for the industry to be strong.
- Call your state legislators about cosigning on bills. Already did it but they didn’t sign on? Call them again…ask them why. Already did it and they did sign on? Call them again…ask them if they’ve heard anything about the progress of the bill. What this does is put YOUR issue back to the top of the pile. Think about how many issues constituents must be calling about. Squeaky wheel, people!
- Start collecting letters of support from your local governments or civic groups who support you. We will be looking for written testimony on the streaming bill(s) soon enough. Start collecting these letters of support now so that you’re not rushing when the time comes for submission.
We have approximately 11 months to wait until the 2023 numbers get released by the DTC. You have the choice of waiting patiently for your demise or actively participating in your preservation. But please…no more shock. No more feigned outrage or woe-is-us. Please. The time for action has come and gone. Now is the time for sustained action. Get on board.