The Internet Challenge to Television

The Internet Challenge to Television

by Bruce M. Owen
     
 

After a half-century of glacial creep, television technology has begun to change at the same dizzying pace as computer software. What this will mean—for television, for computers, and for the popular culture where these video media reign supreme—is the subject of this timely book. A noted communications economist, Bruce Owen supplies the essential

Overview

After a half-century of glacial creep, television technology has begun to change at the same dizzying pace as computer software. What this will mean—for television, for computers, and for the popular culture where these video media reign supreme—is the subject of this timely book. A noted communications economist, Bruce Owen supplies the essential background: a grasp of the economic history of the television industry and of the effects of technology and government regulation on its organization. He also explores recent developments associated with the growth of the Internet. With this history as a basis, his book allows readers to peer into the future—at the likely effects of television and the Internet on each other, for instance, and at the possibility of a convergence of the TV set, computer, and telephone.

The digital world that Owen shows us is one in which communication titans jockey to survive what Joseph Schumpeter called the "gales of creative destruction." While the rest of us simply struggle to follow the new moves, believing that technology will settle the outcome, Owen warns us that this is a game in which Washington regulators and media hyperbole figure as broadly as innovation and investment. His book explains the game as one involving interactions among all the players, including consumers and advertisers, each with a particular goal. And he discusses the economic principles that govern this game and that can serve as powerful predictive tools.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
An instructive, if misnamed, volume on emerging technology in the fields of television, telephony, and computers. Owens, an economist, tends to approach his subjects with the issue of cost-effectiveness foremost. He treats his material methodically from both historical and prognostic points of view, covering radio as a precursor to television and making predictions on the success of high-definition television (HDTV). In the case of telephones and televisions, there is a further division into analog and digital subsets, and with television additional stratification between broadcast and cable media. Much of this discussion is quite helpful, and Owen certainly renders the technical jargon far more clearly than a typical owner's manual for a product does. For instance, he offers an instructive discussion on the origins of the word "broadcast," employing a comparison with "narrowcast" to underscore the importance of bandwidth to predigital and non-computer-based forms of communication. Similarly, Owens makes strong use of charts and diagrams to elucidate his contentions. His political stance, on those rare occasions when it can be discerned at all, is innocuously laissez-faire, criticizing both monopolies and government-sponsored protection of the industry. However, the study eventually sinks under the weight of too much material crammed into too slim a volume: confusion inevitably results, despite the helpful glossary. More importantly, the issue of convergence between television and the Internet—the very phenomenon that the book's title suggests is central—comes late in the discussion and is given short shrift. Owen seems somewhat behind the curve, predicting thattelevision/computer convergence is further off than it may actually be, though his points about the requirements for higher computer speeds and greater memory capacity are well taken. Despite its future-oriented hype, more useful as a historical text than a handbook for the 21st century. (53 line illustrations) .

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674872998
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
03/28/1999
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
6.52(w) x 9.48(h) x 1.15(d)

What People are saying about this

This book provides an insightful view of the evolution of new media technologies by the leading authority on video economics.

Meet the Author

Bruce M. Owen is the president of Economists Incorporated. He has written and coauthored many books and articles on the economics of the media.

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