For decades, local TV stations ruled the airwaves and were treated with deference by the likes of ABC, CBS, and NBC, which needed them to reach their audiences. But as the recession has pummeled advertising revenue, most have been forced to make drastic cuts, and the networks are contemplating doing the unthinkable: ditching the airwaves for cable, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Cable has the advantage of raking in sustaining subscriber fees even when ad revenues tank. In December, CEO Les Moonves called moving CBS to cable “a very interesting proposition,” while NBC’s Jeff Zucker said the entire broadcast TV model had to change. Eventually, one of the networks "will make a break,” said a former NBC and current Time Warner exec. “One of them will try to make a go as a cable network.”