March 21, 2000
correspondent Terence Smith talks about the future of television with
Garth Ancier, president of NBC Entertainment.
The NewsHour Media Unit is funded by a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts.
TERENCE SMITH: Technologically, how do you think television will be different five years from now, 10 years from now?
|A different world of television|
|GARTH ANCIER: Well, there are so many things playing at
the moment. It's hard to know exactly what will be happening. You'll be
having certainly some high-definition television, some more than we have
now, as -- you know, I know I'm an early adopter. So I don't expect that
most people will be having high-definition sets like I bought a year ago,
and there are only a few shows in high def, but it's really a fantastic
experience. If you like sports, if you like events, high-definition television
is really quite spectacular to watch.
There's a possibility that certain broadcasters will be multiplexing. So they will be taking your favorite shows and running them several different time periods because they' ll have several digital channels on their new stations, and there's also, of course, the possibility that the Internet with the new Internet-2 backbone and with the high-speed access that you get through DSL or cable modems will become a viable delivery vehicle for full-motion video on demand.
TERENCE SMITH: And if that happens, what does that do to broadcast television as we know it?
GARTH ANCIER: If that happens, I think at least in the short term what it does is it allows, I think, mostly shorter video to be accessible on demand. That means shorter shows. It's a little difficult for me to imagine someone downloading a half-hour television show off of ISDN -- well, actually ISDN won't be here, but DSL or cable modem, because it's still going to be a fairly slow -- that's a lot of data. A half-hour show is a lot of data to send down over a DSL or over any high-speed net at this point, let alone the issues that there are with the Internet backbone to support that, but there's no question that within the next two or three years, probably accelerated by the Time Warner-AOL merger, you'll be seeing broadband access for entertainment content. It will just be a question of how that shakes itself out, and that will have an impact on broadcast television. There will be yet another competitor to the product.
TERENCE SMITH: And the famous buzzword "convergence?" In other words, the convergence of computers and the television set, futurists will tell you that you'll have a wall in your house that is both controlled by either a keyboard or a remote. Is that a realistic picture?
GARTH ANCIER: Well, I think that is realistic. I mean, I would personally, I would love to have a wall on my house right now that is both my computer screen and my television set with -- and where the Internet was more of a media-rich experience, meaning more video; more sound.
I mean, when I work on the Internet right now as a human being, I find myself watching television at the same time because right now the Internet is a bit of a media-poor experience.
TERENCE SMITH: Yes.
GARTH ANCIER: It's mostly without sound or the sound is a little slow in coming. It's a little slow on the graphics. So, going from what it is right now to full-motion video, great sound, great picture, great color; it's quite a leap. It will get there, but it's quite a leap.
There's no question, though, that with high-quality LCV displays that I've seen in last few years at the consumer electronic show, you're going to have a flat-panel TV. It's going to be wide screen probably in aspect ratio, and that will be for either broadcasting and high-definition or regular definition -- or now they're calling it "standard definition" -- or for using your computer.
TERENCE SMITH: So it will be a different world.
GARTH ANCIER: I think it will be a different world. That doesn't actually scare me that much. I still think story-driven programming that is of quality and that's smart and appeals to people and has terrific acting still drives that entertainment side of the media.
You may access news a little differently. You may shop differently. Certainly, I know already I shop differently using the Internet, but I'd love to shop using a much bigger screen on my wall than on my computer laptop, which is how I interface with the Internet right now.
TERENCE SMITH: "Interactive" is the other big buzzword, right,
that you're going --
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