Greg Dyke on Broadcasting: Commercial Television Isn't Dead Yet in Spite of PVRs
Dyke, Greg, The Independent (London, England)
If you listen to some experts the long term future of advertiser- funded television channels such as ITV, Channel 4 and Five is, once again, suddenly in doubt because of technological change.
The argument goes that ownership of personal video recorders " so far available in the form of Sky Plus " is going to take off in vast numbers and, as a result, many more people will record programmes rather than watch them as they are broadcast. When the viewers finally get around to watching the programmes they will spin through the advertisements.
I was recently chairing a Marketing Week advertisers' conference in Paris where this was the popular theme of the day and was widely used as a means of knocking the broadcasters. For me the trouble was there was a sense of dj vu about the whole issue, I had heard it all before. It was getting on for 20 years ago that I last attended this particular conference. At that time I was a young director of programmes at London Weekend Television and one of my jobs at the conference back in 1988 was to convince the advertisers that ITV had a bright future. It wasn't that easy.
It was the year that another technological change, multichannel television, was about to hit Britain in the form of Sky and the defunct British Satellite Broadcasting. The advertisers and the buying agencies were full of stories of doom and gloom for ITV. According to them, real competition was about to hit ITV for the first time. Their argument back then was that more channels and real competition would lead to a dramatic fall in the price of advertising. After all, wasn't that how markets worked?
Of course, that isn't what happened. More channels didn't lead to more people watching advertiser-funded television and, as demand grew, the price of advertising on the big terrestrial channels went up rather than down over the next decade both in Britain and the United States. So this year's argument about a great technological change about to destroy the economics of an industry had a familiar ring. …