Television in the Eighties

May 9, 1980

Report Outline
New Technological Advances
Expanding Home Video Market
Future of Network Television
Special Focus

New Technological Advances

Wider Choices for Home Screen Viewers

After nearly four decades of commercial television broadcasting, the medium employs space-age satellites and computer technology to provide nearly 76 million American households with instantaneous presentations of news, sports and entertainment. Yet, technologically speaking, television is still in its infancy. A combination of new advances in home video electronics, satellite-transmitted cable television, information retrieval systems and a deregulatory climate in Washington are certain to alter the content of television radically in the coming decade.

Typical of prophecies of things to come, Desmond Smith of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. writes that “the kind of storm that swept Dorothy off to Oz is about to hit the old broadcasting industry, and the American public — which owns the public airways — is likely to be the beneficiary.” The most visible change will be a much wider choice of programs for television viewers. Today most TV sets can tune in no more than seven very high frequency (VHF) stations and a smattering of others in the ultra high frequency (UHF) range. But the 16 million American households that receive cable television now can view up to 36 channels. The technology is in place to increase that number to 54 in the near future.

Cable television has the potential to deliver up to 80 channels to each subscriber. Filling these channels are the rapidly growing cable and pay-cable television industries, subscription television stations and so-called “superstations”. More than one observer has noted that the future of television will consist of a change from broadcasting to “narrowcasting” — featuring a wide choice of televised offerings, each tailored for narrow sections of the viewing public.

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May 09, 1980  Television in the Eighties
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May 15, 1968  Television and Politics
Mar. 01, 1967  Financing of Educational TV
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