Future of FTA TV looking dim: A study

MUMBAI: Worldwide free-to air (FTA) TV can easily survive for another ten years, but its future after that is not bright. This information was included in a report published by the organisation Research and Markets.

The report titled 2004 Digital and Interactive TV Industry Market report noted that FTA TV was so far behind in technology that in all probability it would not catch up with the other providers of entertainment and information. PCs, game computers, DVDs and even mobile phones will reach TV quality within this decade

In an increasingly digital and interactive media landscape, customer relations are essential. In most situations, FTA broadcasters don't have any direct relationships with their customers. This means that the computer industry would slowly take over the TV momentum from the broadcasting industry.

Should video streaming on the net take off, advertisers would not hesitate to jump ship and the programming sources for the broadcasters will slowly start to dry up. Content for the next generation will be vastly different from that of the current generation of traditional TV viewers the report has predicted.

Of the three methods of delivery, cable, satellite and terrestrial broadcasting the report stated that while satellite is still the most widely used, cable is quickly catching up. During this decade cable is expected to play a far more significant role, and should become another access technology in the converging markets of telecommunications, broadcasting, Internet and e-commerce. On the other hand satellite will be restricted to TV where its strength lies.

The report stated that terrestrial TV was still floundering in outdated infrastructure and business models. There is no global standard, and developments especially in the US are not too promising. New technologies such as MHP are still several years away from large scale commercial deployment.

As far as the US is concerned, the advent of digital technology has not proved to be a saviour. This is because broadcasters are protecting their existing investments, and the high cost of HDTV is not seen by consumers as being worth the cost. As prices fall and people need to replace their sets digital TV will progressively replace analogue up to the mandated change-over dates.

Interactive TV initiatives date back to the late 1970s. However nothing much has happened since, despite a short revival of the idea around 1995 when the US industry was looking at video-on-demand services. The major problem was the inadequate capacity of their cable TV networks. However with the development of broadband around the globe the scenario has been changing. In India, Reliance is leading the charge in this arena with its promise of a Broadband Bharat.

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