Communications Satellites: Global Change Agents

By Joseph N. Pelton; Robert J. Oslund et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TEN
The World of Satellite TV: News, the Olympics,
and Global Entertainment
Peter Marshall
Formerly Intelsat and Keystone Communications
Robert N. Wold
Formerly Wold Communications

The human mind craves for variety and entertainment… soon, communications satellites will be able to fill that need beyond all the dreams of the past.

—Arthur C. Clarke (1964, p. 146)

Television news, from the first days of satellite communications, took advantage of this new and highly flexible tool in the journalistic quest to be first and fastest with the news. This quest of being first with the news goes back to at least the Greek wars, when Pheidipides ran (not walked) the 26 miles from Marathon to Athens with the news of victory. The use of the telegraph in the Boer War at the end of the 19th century was another leap forward; so, too, were the arrival of radio, the telephone, the telex, the fax, and now the Internet. Satellitedistributed TV news and the cache updating of Web sites via satellite digital video broadcast technology, in fact, now creates the world's most powerful tandem of news media.

Yet in many ways it is satellites (now coupled with Internet video streaming and conventional TV transmissions) that seem to provide the ultimate technology for news—the combination of ubiquitous coverage, instant communications, and video images.

The speed of its adoption as a medium for daily news in the last decades of the 20th century was limited not by technology, but by global regulation and price. The fact that outside of the United States, the early satellite operators were government-owned national and international monopolies severely restricted the abil

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