Feeds

TV's iPod moment?

Watching the Defectives

Security for virtualized datacentres

TV isn't music

The first thing to note is that there is a very large part of the music industry who see the internet and the iPod more as a threat than an opportunity.

Admittedly the industry was pathetically slow to offer legal, pay-for online music sales, so they may have missed some opportunities. A call of ‘Quick, panic! And now stop panicking’ might have done them quite a bit of good circa 1998. But the more profound sense of disquiet facing the music industry stems from the knowledge that music labels may not actually be as necessary as they once were.

Good pop music doesn’t necessarily cost very much to make. The people who make it don’t initially demand very much money (which has always suited major labels very nicely). Nor does listening to it necessarily require very much attention on the part of the consumer. Remove any of these aspects, and music’s 'iPod moment' would look very different.

None of this is true of television. While consumption may be becoming more fragmented, at least in terms of the greater freedom of how and when to watch it, there is a limit to how fragmented production can become. You can have good music without a music industry, but you can’t have good television without a television industry.

Amateur or ultra-low budget television may be growing, but it is hard to imagine it having much impact on the entertainment industry at large. Nor does the idle, semi-attentive consumption of small television clips, impatiently shuffled and skipped through, really sound like plausible viewer behaviour any time soon.

The least we can say, then, is that TV’s 'iPod moment' shares little with music’s iPod moment. Are there better ways of thinking about the transitions at hand, or perhaps better models?

Revenge of the process people

Speaking at the same conference as Cerf was Britain’s highest profile, and arguably most feared, political interviewer, Jeremy Paxman. Addressing some of the same anxieties as Cerf, and to an extent fuelling them, Paxman took an entirely different tack.

Yes, change is in the air, he argued, but the way to deal with it is to focus on what remains constant, not to whip up a frenzy about that which doesn’t. “We’ve got too focused on the way we deliver what we do, at the expense of what we deliver”, he said. Threaded through Paxman’s speech is the constant refrain ‘what is television for?’ And the answer will have little to do with its means of transmission.

The cost and professionalism involved in making high quality television is what allows this industry to focus on Paxman’s question. And Paxman is right. It needs to take advantage of this fact, and work on resuscitating its sense of purpose.

The danger with Cerf’s rhetoric is that it suggests that TV producers need to work twice as hard in chasing viewers, rather than twice as hard at making high quality content. The iPod, meanwhile, will continue to be dangled in front of executives of all walks of life, as proof that the unexpected can blow up in their faces.

But the lesson should have been learnt long ago. Any industry that commits itself too closely to a single technology runs the risk of it being superseded. This was true long before iPods, and will remain true long after they’re gone.

William Davies is a sociologist and policy analyst. His weblog is at Potlatch.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.