Booz-Allen Executive Forecasts Dramatic Broadcasting Changes:
Hi-Technology Means More Viewer Options

David Tanzer, Senior Associate with Booz, Allen & Hamilton, forecasts dramatic changes in the broadcast industry for the decade ahead. In a luncheon address titled: "Technology - Threats and Opportunities," at NBACA's annual convention, Mr. Tanzer indicated that changing technology will provide more alternatives to the local broadcast station. The results will mean:

  • Lower station ratings
  • Increased pressure on programming that does not generate profit
  • An erosion of the franchise stations have with viewers and advertisers

While these trends were not good news for broadcasters, Tanzer indicated that the public will benefit from a broader choice of programming. Organizations distributing PSAs and community affairs programs should benefit as well, Tanzer observes, because stations and other programming outlets will have considerably more air time to fill.

Tanzer cited several societal factors that will affect future broadcast audiences:

  • Less leisure time with longer work weeks
  • More consumer viewing options such as cable networks, super stations and growth of suburban newspapers and shoppers
  • More working women

"These changes have eliminated the near- monopoly position broadcasters used to have," Tanzer said, "and broadcast is now one of many voices." Among the technology changes that will affect broadcast stations and their viewers are interactive video, fiber optics, direct broadcast satellite (DBS) and digital technology compression, Tanzer observed.

  • Interactive Video will permit viewers to participate in programming. Examples cited by Tanzer are town meetings, the ability to obtain more detailed coverage on a particular news story, and picking a preferred angle for viewing instant replays in sporting events.

  • Fiber Optic Technology will permit consumers to receive hundreds of channels of programming. Since phone companies will provide fiber optics, they will become another competitor to broadcasters, Tanzer says. However, they lack a franchise with viewers, and according to Tanzer, in order to compete more effectively against cable operators,they may strike a deal with broadcasters to provide programming.

  • Direct Broadcast Satelite provides TV programming to rural areas not reached by cable, but is very expensive due to the cost of launching satellites. According to Tanzer it will further erode broadcast audiences by siphoning off affluent viewers and provide non-broadcasters the opportunity to reach targeted audiences, such as schools.

  • Digital Technology/Compression makes all the above trends possible by squeezing more signals into the broadcast spectrum, and also makes it possible for stations to provide a second language audio feed.

Tanzer concluded on an optimistic note by saying that broadcasters have special strengths such as ties to the community and programming skills that can be significantly improved by changing technology.