advertising ebbs and flows
The BBC in the UK sets a standard, as someone points out. But the model of compulsory subscription [not taxation] and free at point of use poses problems for other providers, solved by advertising. However all commercial tv in the UK is now wilting for lack of ads.
The problem in the US is different, as this excellent discussion makes clear. And the (almost) all advertising base with a good streak of subscription is under strain.
The net has developed differently. It was seen as a number of things, but for commercial use it seemed a marvellous advertising and then sales point. It was this that placed so much emphasis on 'free'. Later the process of deriving income streams from advertising became a major model.
As others point out., putting material on the net costs, receiving it costs, and originating costs -whether in time or money.
But the underlying marketing and sales and business models are not new, just recycled. Just as the net is new technology but fundamentally no different from all other distribution and usage problems.
And the problem now, one that faces all media, is that advertising is disappearing in the recession. If, as some think - myself included, this is a long low downturn [perhaps a depression] that disappearance is likely to be like the Cheshire Cat, not much left but the grinning teeth of memory.
Of course this will test every supplier; those who think they will not be able to continue as viable businesses with advertising are starting now to develop the appropriate payment and subscrtiption models. They are not all going to survive and those that do will be slimmed down.
For consumers there will be a lot of rethinking, even if they are pirates, since one can guarantee that those taking what does not belong to them will be hounded increasingly severely. Most arguments for the continuation of 'free' do not have commercial resonance, whatever philosophy may be called in to support such views.
The price of continued and unchecked piracy may well be the end of major investment in entertainments, such as blockbuster films [movies]. That might be a price those who like them will have to pay on behalf of pirates.
At all events, my forecast is that the 'free content' net is in its last days for some decades at least.
Debt Control Man