But still: How did the local stations and networks do it before that had cable/satellite retrans fees to support them? Perhaps, just maybe, if they actually had to work for it, instead of getting a free ride from subscription TV, their product might improve and people might start liking them again?
Consider: Do you know anybody that actually likes broadcast TV? There are people, like us, that watch it because... well, it's all there is. But given the dearth of quality programming (and most of that is on PBS), we're kind of mildly embarrassed to admit we watch it.
Don't worry. Everybody does it.
If you want local stations to go back to the way it was before, then you'll have to remove the internet and about 2/3rds of the cable networks. The landscape was different. Ad dollars are split up more ways than ever. I would suggest to anyone who thinks television salespeople don't have to "work for it" to try it, sometime. Get a job in a TV station's sales department. See how easy it is to make truckloads of cash from local television ad sales.
Get back to me when you've done that.