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Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Future of Television

IAN CONDRY: What lessons do you draw from peer-to-peer music sharing? Will that kind of chaos in file sharing and threat to intellectual property come to TV? Is there something in the regulatory history, VCRs for example, which can offer a lesson for the current climate?


U.S. television is a bank. If you turn to news today, the tendency is to engage in "financialization," or to value in monetary terms of all kinds of activities. This was seen after September 11th in how there was a great deal of time devoted to discussing the economic impact of terrorism. Today, basic economic knowledge is required for all current affairs reporters. On channels such as CNBC and MSNBC, the value of public activities is understood in fiscal terms. Cultural perspectives are subordinated to the monetary.

Television has also become a couch, an environment for the emotionalization of discourse. There is an increasing domestic emphasis in mainstream news. This is part of a wider tendency to ask people how they feel about things. For example, in interviews with NBA players, you might learn that they felt God was with them during a game, but you won't learn anything about tactics or actual performance. This trivialization of mainstream coverage is problematic.

Finally, television has become a landfill. By this metaphor, Miller wishes to call attention to the way in which the physical object of the TV set is made and used: where and how it is manufactured, where it travels, and what happens to it in its afterlife as a cast-off relic, part of a landfill.


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