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.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Apr. 11, 2014  Future of TV
Nov. 09, 2012  Indecency on Television
Aug. 27, 2010  Reality TV
Jun. 20, 2008  Transition to Digital TV
Feb. 16, 2007  Television's Future
Mar. 18, 2005  Celebrity Culture
Oct. 29, 1999  Public Broadcasting
Aug. 15, 1997  Children's Television
Dec. 23, 1994  The Future of Television
Mar. 26, 1993  TV Violence
Sep. 18, 1992  Public Broadcasting
Oct. 04, 1991  Pay-Per-View
Feb. 17, 1989  A High-Tech, High-Stakes HDTV Gamble
Dec. 27, 1985  Cable Television Coming of Age
Sep. 07, 1984  New Era in TV Sports
Sep. 24, 1982  Cable TV's Future
Apr. 24, 1981  Public Broadcasting's Uncertain Future
May 09, 1980  Television in the Eighties
Oct. 25, 1972  Public Broadcasting in Britain and America
Mar. 26, 1971  Video Revolution: Cassettes and Recorders
Sep. 09, 1970  Cable Television: The Coming Medium
May 15, 1968  Television and Politics
Mar. 01, 1967  Financing of Educational TV
Dec. 16, 1964  Community Antenna Television
Oct. 21, 1964  Sports on Television
Feb. 28, 1962  Expansion of Educational Television
Aug. 28, 1957  Television in the Schools
Jan. 18, 1957  Movie-TV Competition
Sep. 06, 1955  Television and the 1956 Campaign
May 18, 1954  Educational Television
Sep. 03, 1953  Changing Fortunes of the Movie Business
Apr. 20, 1953  Televising Congress
May 31, 1951  Television in Education
Jan. 26, 1949  Television Boom
Jul. 12, 1944  Television
Popular Culture
Radio and Television