I'd like to dig deeper and finish my thought on free media.
A second side effect of free media is that it appeals to a lower form of user. Free media is attractive to those with less than sterling reputations.
Think craigslist: for every legit mate posting there are two (minimum) that are scams or people looking to take advantage of others. Thus furthering the clutter and noise that the user has to tolerate. So, we put up our defenses and tune everything out.
Seth Godin further explores this effect on his blog. He poetically labels it a "driveby culture" that is created. It's a must read and is found here.
P.S. Have you noticed more quick-buck lawyers and credit assistance services on television since the recession began two years ago. The price falls with demand and they open the door to advertisers of the lowest common denominator.