Chapter 2 The three generations of TV
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TV had, so far, two major generations. The first was that of limited over-the-air broadcasting, and the second, multichannel TV, based on the distribution platforms of cable, satellites, telecom, and home video players. Even though they were slow moving they had tremendous long-term impacts. In each of its generations, most users did not perceive a need for anything more advanced than they already had. And in each of these generations people did not expect the impact of the new medium when it emerged by a wide margin. The broadcast TV media generation accelerated national market concentration for consumer products; low-and middle-brow programming; news gatekeeping; politics favoring the visual over the conceptual; but also a more global awareness, and a national community based on common media experiences. The multichannel generation of TV favored a societal fragmentation and polarization, a celebrity culture, and a growing role of money in politics. And more recently, we have entered the 3rd generation of TV, that of online streaming video, centered on large global “video cloud” platform companies. Their impact on technology, culture, and society will be even more significant and rapid.

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