Media Technology-Media Managment-Handouts, Lecture notes for Media Management. Amity Business School
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Media Technology-Media Managment-Handouts, Lecture notes for Media Management. Amity Business School

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This lecture handout was provided by Prof. Kamika Thukral at Amity Business School for Media Management course. It includes: Continuing, Evolution, Media, Technology, Previously, Communication, Revolution, Braodcasting, ...
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Media Management – MCM 601 VU

© Copyright Virtual University of Pakistan 28

Lesson 06 MEDIA TECHNOLOGY

The Continuing Evolution of Media Technology During the last decade, mass communication has taken on a much greater social role than it previously held, as the terms communication revolution and information society have come into vogue. More and more people are engaged in the creation, processing, and dissemination of information. The sociologist Daniel Bell declared that the United States had more people working in the production of information than in manufacturing or agriculture, a fact that heralded what critics would call the "information society." Technological invention and innovation, including the development of the microchip, the computer, and the communication satellite, heralded the "communication evolution." One of the first visible signs of this revolution in mass communication was cable television. In addition, for broadcasting and the print media a variety of time- and money-saving machines came into use. All of this visible evidence of major technological change affecting the communication industry represented far more than new deliver system and new machines. The current evolution in communication technology is best expressed in the concept of a convergence or coming together of all forms of communication in to one electronically based computer. The purpose of these lessons is to define and discuss the evolution in communication technology as it affects the mass communication industries and the individual citizen. At a time when there are many emerging technologies and services being delivered by new machines. Some of them will succeed; others will fail in what has been called "the great shakeout"—in which the abundance of competing new electronic systems and services may prove too much for the marketplace to bear. Technology changes quickly, and in mass communication, as in other industries, anything may happen. What we can do here is sketch out the contours of the information society and the communication revolution, tracing some contemporary developments that have enough of a track record to merit analysis. Anyone who wants to stay up-to-date on communication technology as it affects the media needs to read ‘widely in general and trade publications as well as attend occasional trade shows and special seminars. It is a formidable assignment that students entering the field can expect as part of their professional life. Examined in the long view, however, what appeared to be a "revolution" in the 1980s was clearly a more settled evolution" by the 1990s. In fact, technology has always been a metaphor for change in the media industries. As far back as Gutenberg, it was technology movable type that spurred change. Later, fast printing presses, the telegraph, zinc engraving, modern photography, radio, television, fiber optics, and other technologies heralded new developments for media and their audiences. Then, as now, new technology meant new ways of Organize work. New Technology and the Consumer Unless we consider the meaning and impact of new media technologies on the individual on consumers any discussion makes the technological change sound like so many wires and whistles, holding about as much interest for most people as changes in automotive or aircraft engines. Depending on one's age and vantage point, new media technologies have advanced either rapidly or incrementally. People in their thirties and forties can remember a time when there were no personal computers, when stores used old- fashioned adding machines, when only three or four television channels were available, when VCRs were only a futuristic dream, when fax machines were either unknown or near-magic devices. To today's students many of these innovations are taken for granted because they became available not all at once, but incrementally, in a fashion that seemed natural and hardly revolutionary. But revolutionary they were. As Wilson Dizard has written in describing the ubiquitous semiconductor chip, it embodies the "power of the information age comparable to the role of the steam engine in the industrial era.” What people need to recognize is that they are living through a period of extraordinary and sometimes wrenching change for society generally, with all kinds of new machines and gadgets that are changing not just our homes, offices, schools, and other institutions, but life itself? Although it is as yet too early to tell for sure, future generations may someday view the present period as being as significant as the industrial revolution in the range, scope, and depth of its impact. For the individual, these great changes are not just a passing show docsity.com

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to be watched, but instead something in which all of us is personally involved. The reason? Consumer adoption (a marketing term) determines the success of any new technology. If people do not use a new device or service, it cannot generate the kinds of revenues needed to manufacture and distribute it. As this chapter will indicate, the road followed by the information or communications revolution, now thought of more as an evolution, is paved with failed technologies that did not make it not because they did not work or have uses and advantages, but because people simply did not like them, did not want to pay for them, or did not want to change their habits to integrate them into their lives. Importantly for the consumer, new technology has meant greater choice in television programming, magazines, business information and other services. It has also meant greater specialization for consumers and the media, and some would say greater fragmentation of messages and less mass communication. There are, for example, fewer general interest national magazines and more that target a highly specific topic, such as tennis. And as we note later, consumers must have resources to participate in the new technology. The Rise of the New Technology Although every innovation in communications since the invention of the press in the fifteenth century has represented new technology, the term new communication technology today usually refers to the coordination between the computer and the television set. That union was made possible by several inventions. The computer and microchip allowed the storage and retrieval of vast amounts of information, and the telephone wire allowed its transmission. The satellite allowed global transmission of pictures and sounds, as well as direct transmissions to home receivers without the use of local television ground stations. Wedded with the other technologies, coaxial cable and, later, fiber optics allowed a new television of abundance to replace the scarcity of channels that characterized over-the-air broadcasting. To promoters of cable television, this meant that as many as a hundred or more channels could be available in every home. It meant that complex information storage and retrieval systems could be placed in every home, that there could be electronic mail, and that people could use two-way systems to talk back to their television sets and order goods and services; they could even be guaranteed safer homes through electronic home security. All these things were technically possible by the late 1960s, and many social observers predicted that by 1975, or most certainly by 1980, they would all be a reality for most Americans. In the late 1960s, New York magazine even ran a cover that showed a "media room" with these services. We were told we would be a "wired nation with most homes wired for cable, electronic mail, electronic banking, and other services. What all this meant for the average citizen was that living rooms that once had only radios soon had black and white television. This was followed by color television and in turn the VCR. By the 1980s, many homes had video games, personal computers, electronic voice mail, and even fax machines. Clearly the predictions of a few years ago, while materializing more slowly than some commentators thought, have reached the consumer both in the home and in the office. Increasingly new technologies like cellular phones have even made their way into cars and on airplanes. Intervening Human Factors and New Technology What is technologically possible does not always happen or at least, it does not happen right away. Economics, government regulation, and people's habits were among the reasons that the changes in the home communication system did not take hold on schedule. Investors did not see immediate payoffs, and many were slow to put their money in new technology. Some large firms like AT&T were not permitted to move into the market because of the possibility that they could monopolize it. Government regulation put the brakes on such industries as cable television, which had to meet standards somewhat different from those for conventional broadcasting. And, to be sure, the traditional media industries fought back against their emerging competitors. In one battle before a U.S. Senate committee, die newspaper industry managed to negotiate a compromise with the Bell System, which agreed not to go ahead with a plan for electronic yellow pages." The newspaper people argued that instantly updated yellow pages available over phone lines would devastate classified advertising a principal source of revenue for newspapers. These were only a few of the factors that seemed to dim the promise of cable and other new technologies docsity.com

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during their formative years. Nevertheless, communication technology continued to evolve at breakneck speed. Satellites Several ways, in which electronic messages are transmitted, so what is special about satellites? Stephen Alnes called them "the single most important piece of new hardware in the telecommunication revolution. “Why? These radio relay stations in the sky have transponders that can receive and transmit messages. Since they beam messages up and down rather than horizontally across the earth's surface, they get none of the ground interference from mountains, buildings, and so on. In addition, they can send and receive signals over thousands of miles. Satellites receive messages from the ground, beamed to them from an "uplink," and then retransmit them to a receiving dish, which is called an earth station or "downlink." Thus a report of the Carnegie Corporation stated, "Simply put, satellites provide a broadband, low cost, distance insensitive means of distributing information. There is little that most terrestrial transmissions can do that satellites cannot do more cheaply and quickly and with equal or better quality and reliability. “More specifically, satellites make possible the following • Live global transmissions of pictures and sound from both fixed and mobile transmitters. • The easy creation of new radio and television networks and "super-stations" • Much more programming available to cable television systems, many of which have had unused

cable capacity • The creation of a direct satellite-to-home network • The assembling of an audience on a national or regional basis for a program or programs that

might not attract a viable audience in a smaller geographical area • A cheaper way for business to communicate over long distances, from rooftop to rooftop if

desired. • Indeed, satellite communication is said to be "distance insensitive" in terms of cost.

The Cable Industry Cable is the name given to a communication industry that is in effect a distribution system for television, radio, and data signals. Originally, cable (then called community antenna television or CATV) involved a tower antenna from which lines of coaxial cable were run to homes. The early cable systems simply captured and redistributed the signals of television stations in areas where reception was poor. Today cable is much more complex. It is both an industry and a communication medium. For its mechanical distribution it may still use coaxial cable Butt to think of cable as simply an electronic relay system is no more sensible than to consider the institution of the press to be merely a mechanical printing press. Cable is "the vanguard of a technological revolution, the nervous system of an information-centered society allowing a tremendous expansion in our communications capacity," according to researcher Timothy Hollins. Although cable can be distinguished from over-the-air broadcasting because it does not use the public airwaves, it now generates its own programming, sells advertising, and offers other two- way data and communication services. Indeed, the broadcasting industry, which was once wary of cable and kept it in its place by lobbying to limit its growth, now considers cable a part of the world of electronic media. A vast array of services is available from cable systems. Of course, not all of these are available in every area of the country at the moment, and like magazines, cable programming services come and go depending on consumers' interest and support. Information Services In the midst of many new developments in the communication field is the emergence of information services, which range from specialized data bases providing economic information to general-circulation services that offer information on a wide range of subjects, airline schedules, weather, entertainment, sports, and general news. There are even two competing trade associations for the information services: the Information Industry Association and the Videotex Industry Association. To the consumer, what is most important is what information is available and what it costs, but to the data services run by information companies, the major question has been what markets to serve and how to serve them. Videotex and teletext docsity.com

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Although specialized data services have existed for many years, the widespread use of computers and the coordination of computers and television led to the development of videotext and teletext. Both are interactive information services that allow individuals to request frames of information, but they are slightly different technologies. Teletext is delivered over the air, while videotext is delivered by wire. Both offer print and graphic services through a kind of pay television. Teletext comes via the television set; videotext can come either via television or through personal computers. That is, teletext is transmitted on the vertical blanking interval of a regular television broadcast signal, while videotext comes by phone (or other) wire to a video display screen. Teletext is the more limited of the two technologies. Typically it is a 'loop of information' and the viewer must wait to grab the page the next time it comes around. If videotext comes via the television set, it requires a separate channel through, for example, a cable company. Videotext data are stored in a central computer and can be called up by the consumer as needed. Typically users have a key pad bout the size of a pocket calculator with which they request information. The terms videotex, videotext, and teletext often confuse people, and there has been no universal agreement about them. Most commonly, videotex is a generic term that refers to both systems, whereas videotext usually refers to a one-way system and teletext 10 a two-way system. Sometimes the term video data is also used to refer to both videotext and teletext.As one writer put it, "Teletext and videotext are truly the most radical of the new technologies. By bringing the powers of the computer to the home TV set; they transform an entertainment medium into an information age appliance. International precedents Videotext technology was first developed in Britain and Europe. The British Broadcasting Corporation introduced its Ceefax system, and independent British television companies offered a system called Oracle. In the late 1970s, British Telecommunications (then the British Post Office) introduced the world's first public videotex service. By the mid-1980s, about 50,000 Prestel terminals were being used by about 250,000 Britons. Videotex has had much greater success in France, where nationwide videotext services are a part of the French telephone system. By the mid-1980s, well over a million French homes had videotex terminals. The Canadians developed an early system called Telidon, which had both government and private support. The technical standard of Telidon technology made the Canadians major leaders in the information society, and Canada has made heavy use of both videotext and teletext services, both in the home and in institutions such as hotels, convention centers, schools, and hospitals. The system that the Canadians developed became the subject of a lively international debate because it used different terminals and input devices from the original British system. Eventually, the Canadians won adherents, including the United States and France, for their system, called NAPLPS (for North American Presentation Level Protocol Syntax). The British doggedly held to their own standard and lost ground in international markets, even though they were pioneers in the new technology. Other New Technologies There are many-other new technologies that deserve mention. For example,! Video games in arcades and homes have become important popular-culture "toys" that consume a lot of leisure time. The same is true of home video. These may be transitional technologies, though, since their sales have been disappointing to manufacturers. Other new technologies have improved visual communication; holograph allows for stunning three- dimensional pictures in magazines and otto printed materials. Telephony has been improved by fiber optics. Videoconferencing goes on in business, education, and other fields. Many of these technologies are transitional; they are likely to evolve into still more complex and efficient communication apparatus. Social Consequences of the New Technology Both positive and negative influences of the new technology have been widely discussed. Members of the World Future Society are fond of the idea that new technology has a liberating effect. They also suggest that computers will end unnecessary business travel, that they will allow people to work at home and reap many other benefits. They believe the benefits of new technology greatly outweigh the liabilities. One docsity.com

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supposed great benefit is managing the information explosion. Modern society is inundated with information from many sources, much of it unmanageable without the help of computers and various data bases. Not only do the new machines make a vast array of information accessible, but they also can synthesize it for better use. For example, using certain software, one can retrieve all references to a particular company in the New York Times in a given year. As noted earlier, for broadcasting, the new technology has broken the shackles of limited channels. Over- the-air broadcasting was always governed by the scarcity of channels imposed by a limited spectrum. Thus there have been relatively few television and radio stations, with a great deal of competition for licenses. Now that multiple channels are possible, some cities already have more than one hundred cable channels, although most still have fewer than ten. The wide choice of programs available to people is eroding the virtual monopoly that the three major networks have exercised over television programming. It is said that this greater capability for information, entertainment, and other programming will enhance freedom of expression and give people more viewing options. No one knows what affects the new technology media. Marshall McLuhan, the Canadian media expert, once suggested that every new communication medium dramatically changes the functions of existing media. For example, the introduction of television removed much of the entertainment function of radio, which dropped most dramatic programs in favor of music and news. It was thought that cable might alter the kinds of programming that the networks do, although this has not happened to any appreciable degree yet. The electronic newspaper may change the nature of the hard news in print, as information about weather, the stock market, and sports becomes available on home screens.VCRs seem to have had a positive influence on the motion picture industry which found a new distribution channel. Typically, though, as new technologies develop, they do have an impact, positive or negative, on older media. Critics see a dark side to the explosion of information and new technology. The new technology and information services might also fragment society in another way. People will watch more and use specialized information and entertainment services.

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