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TV versus The Net 12 June 2001 Edition
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Hands up everyone who believed the predictions that the Internet was going to all but replace television as the entertainment and information medium of the late 20th and early 21st century.

Sigh... oh dear, there's always one in every crowd.

Actually, a huge number of people thought this was a reasonable assumption -- after all, it would allow completely personalised content to be delivered "on demand" using a wide range of mechanisms.

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Streaming video was perhaps the most promising of these technologies -- offering the tantalising potential to deliver near broadcast quality programming to your computer screen from anywhere in the world in the blink of an eye.

Long-time Aardvark readers will recall that I worked with former TV3 journalist Scott Mathias and his extremely able producer Romi to bring you a weekly technology program that was delivered via streaming video.

Unfortunately we were about 10 years ahead of the market and although our audience was modest to good (given the small size of the Net population and vertical nature of the content), there was no way this was going to make money.

It's also unfortunate that the cost of creating a video-based product is enormously greater than that of creating purely web-based content -- so there was no way we could keep such a venture running for any length of time.

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    So, delivering regular video programming over the Net is still not really a viable business yet -- but what about the reverse -- interactive TV?

    Will interactive TV really work?

    I have my doubts.

    As I've said before -- TV is basically a passive medium and many viewers tend to enter a vegetative state when positioned in front of the box -- returning to consciousness only during the regular eight minute advertising segments that screen every five minutes or so.

    Are TV viewers really going to use a cumbersome remote or clunky keyboard to order Pizza or send email via their interactive TV? Remember -- most people can't even set the time on their VCR!

    But -- all is not lost in the convergence of broadcasting and the Net.

    I see that Net-users will be able to listen to a brand new episode of the immortal Dr Who next month.

    Great stuff!

    So, the Net isn't about to kill TV anytime soon -- but I have a feeling that sales of short-wave radios have dived in recent years.

    When I was a kid, the only way to listen to a foreign radio station was to erect a huge aerial and tune in on the short-wave bands. Through the hiss, static and buzzing, you would occasionally hear the Voice of America or BBC World Service Radio fade in and out.

    Today however, I can tune into literally hundreds of commercial radio stations from all over the planet by simply firing up my web-browser.

    Will this ever happen to TV I wonder?

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