Monday, April 14, 2008

No more Channels

Channels, the Freeman's Sunday TV section, is no more.


It became a victim of changing readership habits, the exploding TV universe and economics.

There was a time when weekly TV sections were must-reads and must-saves for newspaper subscribers. Comprehensive, timely and specific to the local markets, TV sections had wide appeal -- although for reasons our industry could never quite fathom, advertisers tended to avoid them, despite the TV sections' shelf lives.

But then came the cable and satellite boom. No longer were newspapers expected to list 30 or 40 channels in their listings. Now there were hundreds of channels, literally. TV sections were woefully inadequate. Newspapers couldn't cost justify publishing mini-dictionaries ever week, so many pages were there required to make the TV sections complete.

Readers already knew that. Most of had stopped saving the newspaper TV sections. TV viewers were getting their listings on the Internet, or via the on-screen guides offered by their cable or satellite companies. That left only a small percentage of readers who still relied on the newspaper listings, mostly those who don't have the patience to scan the on-screen grids or who lacked either the know-how (or the computers themselves) to go on-line.

So you combine fewer people who are interested in newspaper TV sections, with a diminishing number of an already small pool of advertisers who opt for newspaper TV sections, with an increasingly difficult newspaper economic environment making the expense of printing the TV sections prohibitive, and you have the increasing demise of TV sections around the country, our Channels being just the latest example.

To be sure, we regretted having to make the decision. It no doubt angered the rew readers who continued to use it. But it was a choice we made with our eyes open. And it was yet another step in the evolution of the print newspaper business.

Channels, R.I.P.
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