The rapid evolution of television requires alteration of federal rules governing the production and ownership of programs. Twenty years ago, the networks' domination of the national TV picture was total. The arguments of movie producers to bar the networks from owning shows and production studios made sense. No longer.
Diversity in programming has vanished as the number of production studios has diminished. In 1970, eight Hollywood studios provided 39 percent of the networks' program supply. Additionally, there were 52 independent studios. Today, there are nine.
The networks' monopoly is shrinking, too. In most communities, the average homeviewer can select from 30 television channels, all bright and clear, on cable. Videocassettes and satellite receivers have also penetrated deeply in the market. New direct-to-home satellite channels promise even wider access. The television networks, which once had a lock on the prime time audience, now scramble to reach even 65 percent of the viewers.