The Future of Broadcast Television

Let us think about the future, the future of broadcast television ten years from now. What may we expect to see?

First, it is likely that we will see broadcast television come to an end. After all, it was not very long ago when we witnessed a push to end governmental support for PBS—one of the most important television stations for news and educational programs. Within the next decade it is likely that PBS may no longer be available to the American public leaving many with low income unable to attain exposure to educational programming for children (Word Girl, Martha Speaks, Sesame Street, and Wild Kratts), the arts, history, and science (Nova, Nature, American Experience, and American Masters), and news programming (Frontline and NewsHour). Local news can be accessed online and FaceBook make it possible to keep up with local news stories. As the Digital Divide narrows and becomes obsolete broadcast television will no longer serve a purpose.

Second, Smart TVs and tablets made it possible for typical television viewers to access YouTube, Netflix, Amazon, and many other apps allowing for one to gain access to programs available on broadcast networks. This will be the future of television viewing. The Internet will more than likely be responsible for the decline of broadcast television. More and more we bear witness to households canceling cable television subscriptions to the benefit of instant streaming.

Television via Internet will allow for viewers to participate with knowledge communities leading the way. The future of television will be one of which the viewers decide on content to be aired and access will be obtained without a time restraint. This will make it difficult for media conglomerates to address but if it is recognized already then they can begin planning now for their monetization of programs. They may charge per channel or per program. It will be interesting to see how this will actually play out. Even now many viewers select to pay per season or episode on apps like Amazon and I believe it is highly likely that broadcast companies will follow suit. How will this affect the ethical lines of production and marketing manipulation?

Well, the effects of production and marketing manipulation on ethics have already shown us that broadcasters serve their own means.

Ethics in production and marketing manipulation seem to be missing in broadcast television already so there is no reason to assume that the ethical line will even exist a decade from now. This is why it will be even more important that knowledge communities have more say in what is produced and how society can be marketed too.

Instantaneous Cycles

Created by Videology
Created by Videology

Television news cycles have changed drastically since the advent of 24-hour news cycles. News broadcasters once had a limited number of minutes to present their agenda to the public. Now 24-hour news cycles enable news broadcasters to bring instantaneous news to our homes. The news has always been held in high regard by viewers. Now, with instantaneous news cycling on the rise, viewers who may not understand how the news media now works are left questioning the media’s intent.

As events unfold, news broadcasters now pass along information as they receive it. This is not what I consider to be an improvement. I remember watching the news as the Sandy Hook Elementary school tragedy unfolded. The news stations with their instantaneous reporting were passing misinformation on to the public. Instead of taking the time to get the facts in order news broadcasters were spewing whatever information came to them and their viewers were taking it all in as fact. It’s no wonder there are so many conspiracy theorist questioning whether this incident actually took place.

Instantaneous news cycles account for one of the many changes in which one watches television. Technologies have changed our relationship to television as well. Streaming Internet television, satellite and cable providers now allow for instantaneous viewing of movies, documentaries, and television shows. No longer does one have to be tied to a broadcasters time slot. American culture as represented in this medium is one of instant gratification.

The future of American culture and television will follow along the same path it has adopted with instantaneous viewing. Currently, people do not typically view things at the same time anymore. In the next decade people will continue to adopt technologies where external schedules will not be imposed. I would not be surprised to see external schedules for viewing television come to an end. It will be exciting to see broadcasters adapt as change continues in the viewing habits of American culture.