Remember the good old days when TV was indeed free, once you bought the antenna and connected it to your roof. Walk through the neighborhood today and most antennas are gone, replaced either by more wires into the home or dishes on the roof. The result has been a unlimited increase in content for a monthly fee. And that same fee assured that the picture was clearer, never snowy, and full of HD detail. So how much is that worth, both to the cable company providing the signal and the viewer, paying to receive it today?
I contend that broadcast signals should be carved out from the subscription equation. They are the backbone of the TV landscape and offer a "basic" choice to those that do not seek more variety. And frankly those broadcasters also own cable nets so they are receiving compensation. In fact, broadcasters once used their weight with broadcast to help force in cable channels that a cable company may have been initially unwilling to launch.
I believe too that once the FCC forced broadcasters to switch their analog feed to a digital one, they opened up a Pandora's box. It actually led to more cable subscriptions rather than try to convert an analog antenna to digital. In fact, the next signal that broadcasters should send is an IP one. Allow the viewer to receive your network through the web. It will ultimately provide TV Anywhere and gain you more viewership to increase your ad revenue. A Comcast NBC merger by the way would definitely slow down the shift into this distribution platform.
But at the moment Cablevision and ABC are fighting over money for carriage and the loser will always be the cable customer; signals dropped temporarily, monthly bills raised, all to feed the pockets of both companies. So it is possible Cablevision customers would not see the Academy Awards on Sunday night. It is also possible that a last minute stay will keep it on. But what is true is that monies will get resolved and monthly bills will rise.