Thursday, November 11, 2010

TV Revolution, part 1

Television as we know it is going to change. Indeed, the revolution has already begun. There is no longer any need to be trapped within the confines of a broadcaster's schedule, which is, by the diverse nature of its audience, imperfect and inapplicable to many people. The current scheduling and even business model of television was developed for a society of people who worked 9-5, made a moderate income, had a degree of disposable income and free time which could be used to recreate without compromising their financial futures.

The very businesses which were responsible for the financial futures of millions, rushed to get their products marketed to the masses via television commercials. This heavy reliance on sponsors shaped the content of the television medium, pushing it gradually into a mechanism that attracted (even developed) the perfect audience. Not only did it applaud the company man when it talked about work, but it applauded the consumer when it talked about play.

Furthermore, television programming was (necessarily) scheduled in harmony with the schedules of the middle class worker. In other words, "prime time" presented the highest quality shows on television because prime time sold the most advertising. It was marketed to the people who had the most disposable income, and was designed to educate them in more exciting ways of disposing of their income. So television had the cumulative effect of destroying initiative and productivity.

Television, as a mainstream medium, does very little to cater to artists and entrepreneurs, many of whom end up "selling out" to the status quo it represents. Both settle for creating what is saleable in this market, rather than finding the market that wants what they create. Part of this is that mainstream media propagates hostility to anything radically new or different, making the process of winning people to one's views not worth the effort. The other part is a genuine lack of direction in such an environment.

As I understand the terms, by definition, an artist or entrepreneur must have a groundbreaking idea. The television business is based upon years, even decades, of carefully tracked ratings and marketing data, which have informed the refinement of the medium from its inception. To change anything is to make this mountain of data irrelevant, and so the one place that seems most likely to spread a groundbreaking idea, is the one place where it is not welcome.

Unfortunately for artists and entrepreneurs, television and other mainstream media has been very successful in establishing the way things are. Many people don't know where else to look and what other sources to trust for their understanding of the world, so they default to the opinions that are most pervasive. Therefore, this hostility is not limited to the media businesses themselves, but has planted seeds of skepticism in every person one might approach directly.

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