The mere offering of a varied schedule of programs does not satisfy the right to hear if the programs of restricted appeal occupy time slots that give interested persons little or no opportunity to enjoy them. To be truly effective, therefore, the FCC might have to review not only the overall assortment of a station’s programing, but also the hours and potential audiences available for these programs. … In addition, the networks often place their one regular prime-time public affairs program, such as CBS’s 60 Minutes or NBC’s First Tuesday, at the same day and hour. Insofar as these practices reduce audience size and viewer opportunity, the FCC might choose to consider them improper and inimical to the listeners’ constitutional right to hear.
Geoffrey L. Thomas, The Listener’s Right to Hear in Broadcasting, 22 Stan. L. Rev. 863, 887 (1970). If the concern now sounds quaint, it’s because conditions of abundance solve high-stakes decisions by taking away the need to choose. It’s also because we now take time-shifting so much for granted that it is effectively invisible.