Gary I certainly see your point, but when ppl have paid a membership.. income to the owners, and basically the only benefit would be no or reduced adverts....and there vare adverts or excessive... thats comes down to milking the paid up members.
These days running a website seems to be a big chore and takes up alot of time and man hours and it takes money to keep things going
This site does take a lot of manhours to run, and it has been and is run by volunteer Admin and moderator team (note the rescent resignation of our long term admin thu).
This team has been and is the core of the site and 99.9% of the cost/ manhours.
As to the hardware/ servers, maintenance...well server upgrade every few years, professional server maintance... if the techies are doing what they are paid to do, then its not much more than checking logs , making sure backups are done etc.
I know this because I run web sites and own servers... thu on a smaller scale.
Side note as to TV ads... I dont know how things work in the USA , but here we have what is called mysky...and we record everything that we watch on TV and then watch at our convience with fast forward 30x speed thru any adverts... the only exception is football games/ sports, and these here only have ads in the game breaks....or in between motor races.....We get your NASCAR without ads... live.
Right now above this post as I type I have a ad ... A local NZ ad, for give up smoking targeted at the indigenous Maori population of NZ....and often get dating ads , thu most are remotely related to veciles...all NZ related... but these 2 are like the non smoking as , dating ad above, unrelated, Im married and dont smoke...vechile ads that are not remotely related to anything we have or do.
So thu I see your piont, as far as this site goes, have to go along with Rogers comments.