I think that we relate independence with legitimacy and quality for both a historic reason and an aesthetic reason. In the historic sense independent works were usually artistic expressions, especially in the post war 50’s stage and during that time many of the films were considered independent works of art. So its only natural that this association of independent and artistic have been reproduced over time. In the aesthetic sense independent works are featured in art houses and utilize filming styles that are unusual when compared to the Hollywood experience. Your viewing experience and preconceptions going into the film prepare you to believe that it is an artistic work.
As for the quote that “Popular art is transformed into esoteric or high art at precisely that time when it in fact becomes esoteric, that is when it becomes or is rendered inaccessible to the types of people who appreciated it earlier” (qtd. on 9). I believe this is part of the process of legitimizing an artifact and i believe that as the article states television is becoming esoteric in its content and technology. One example of television becoming legitimized by becoming unavailable are Disney movies that are “put in the vault”. Disney makes many of its movies unavailable for a certain time and every once in a while open the vault and allow people to purchase them for a limited time. By making these unavailable it is almost as though they add value to the work and changes peoples perception to see these movies as more artistic. More can be found about the Disney Vault in the link below.