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The Forerunner

Major Networks Losing Control of Audiences

By Editorial Staff
Published December 1, 1988

The “Big Three” major networks, ABC, NBC and CBS, which have shaped American television for the last two decades, are apparently losing their monopolistic control over the public. Viewers instead are turning to VCR’s, cable, and an “upstart fourth network,” Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), which has enjoyed a steady increase in viewership.

The Big Three have suffered “audience erosion” with 70 percent of the combined share audience watching, compared to 92 percent in 1978. “We are still the Goliath of broadcasting, but we will be slain by all the little Davids, if we don’t pay attention to them,” said Howard Stringer, president of the CBS Broadcast group.

CBN was considered the “upstart fourth network,” by Time Magazine in its recent article, “The Big Boys’ Blues” (October 17, l988). Spokesman Darlene Smyda said, “We’ve definitely had an increase in viewers. As of October 11th, we had 42 million households.” CBN’s “Family Channel” viewership has steadily increased since 1981, and grew by two million since last May. Smyda said the audience is not necessarily a religious audience, but simply those who like family programming.

Despite attempts to develop new sitcom material to appeal to newer and narrow audiences such as yuppies and single mothers, and to scale down production costs, the decline among the three networks shows no signs of leveling off. Over 3,500 employees have been laid off in the last two years at all Big Three networks. They are also expanding their revenue base by investing in production of documentaries and home videos.

Although networks are diversifying their profits, decline of influence seems cast in concrete. Eugene Secunda, professor of marketing at Baruch College in New York City, told Time, “You’re dealing with inevitable decline. It’s like those folks who kidded themselves that the Roman Empire was going to go on forever. It was an illusion.”

Analysts project that the influence of the major networks will be dispersed among eight or 10 networks, thus fragmenting competition. Some observers say bad TV programming isn’t the reason for the drop in viewership; instead it is new technologies such as home satellite dishes and fiber-optic cable. Also, the average viewer today isn’t sampling every TV show, which is much different from the viewer of the late 1970s who watched everything. Today’s viewers have cable TV, home video and other independent stations from which to select from.


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Massacre of Innocence (DVD)

Exposing The Occult Roots of Abortion

This presentation looks at the spiritual roots of abortion and exposes the myths surrounding child killing. Little known historical facts about abortion and how they relate to modern feminism are presented logically and accurately. Has been effective in converting many to a pro-life position.

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The Four Keys to the Millennium (Book)

Foundations in Biblical Eschatology

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All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?

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Amazing GraceAmazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism (DVD)

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Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?

This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.

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Martin Luther: Digitally Remastered 1953 Classic (DVD)

“Here I stand … I can do no other!”

With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.

The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.

Running time: 105 minutes

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Abortion Clinic 911 Calls (DVD)

Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!

These shocking eyewitness accounts expose the dangers of abortion not only to unborn children, but to the health and lives women as well. An antidote to the smokescreens of the liberal media, these short clips show what really happens in and around abortion clinics.

Although the content is emotionally gut-wrenching, these videos have been used in church seminars and small groups to educate Christians on the abortion issue and to lead people toward a pro-life position. Contains 2 hours and 40 minutes of materials that can be shown separately.

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— M. Drew, YouTube Commenter

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