WHY GO DIGIT?

About 50 years ago TV and Communications were via an Analogue system. However, fundamental technological changes that have occurred in last decades in the television industry have made these systems now to be digital. This is especially owed to the introduction of new technologies alternatives to terrestrial TV in form of cable and satellite TV. The technological transformation has played a major role in the digitization of the existing television transmission platforms (Menez & Carvalho, 2009). In addition to technological transformation, the transition of TV and communications from analogue to digital was influenced by the fact that the media world is characterized by commodification, commercialization, concentration, and corporatization hence the distribution of power in contemporary media, especially through the Internet has seen public space commercialized, expanding consumer culture. The need to expand the consumer culture and reach a wide audience is part of the reasons for the transition of TV from analogue to digital. In a similar vein, communication and information have become crucial components of marketization hence the reason for transforming TV to digital to ensure that TV sells its programs and services to a vast audience (Wasko, 2014).  The transition of TV and communications from an analogue system to digital system was partly due to technological transformations and economic motive. This report will attempt to examine why and how digitization of TV and communications has happened by including technical and commercial information.

The technological transformation over the years is one of the reasons for the transition of TV and communications from analogue to digital. The United States government wanted TV in the country to go digital following the development of High Definition Television (HDTV) and a Japanese standard for television broadcasting in 1985. To make this possible, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) appointed an Advisory Committee on Advanced Television Services (ACATS) to examine how the country would achieve a new system of television broadcasting (Hart, 2010). Another technological advancement in hard disk drive (HDD) that enables the storage of transmitted broadcasts was another reason for why digitization of TV and communications occurred. The HDD revolution was considered an imperative move towards digitizing TV because it allows TV broadcasters to time-shift shows by recording them and watching them afterward (Wahlström & Kankainen, 2011). In this regard, technological revolution can be seen as one of the main reasons for going digital.

The spontaneous growth of mobile technologies is another reason why TV and communications had to go digital. The emergence of social media due to the growth of mobile technologies played a fundamental role in the creation of social media, which created the public sphere through structural, representation, and interaction dimensions. For instance, in structural dimension, social media was central to the creation and expansion of communicative spaces that are relevant for democracy. With regard to representational dimension, social media and the Internet ensured that communication is diversified to reach masses by targeting specific groups. In essence, mobile technologies surpassed physical, cultural, and spatial barriers, therefore, allowing people to interact effectively while expanding the public sphere. Mobile technologies gave media agencies the ability to convey news through utilizing various forms of social networks such as Facebook and twitter. This ensured that people living in Diaspora would get connected to their respective countries and understand the current happenings economically, socially, and politically (Taylor, 2010). This, therefore, represented another reason for TV and communications to go digital.

The reason for TV and communications to go digital can also be explained from the economic perspective. In an attempt to make the transition to a new system of television broadcasting, ACATS had to come up with a way of promoting competition among a group of firms and research laboratories that had been proposed to produce prototypes of advanced TV systems. This had an economic attachment because “The main incentive for participating in the competition was the potential economic return from owning the intellectual property connected with developing the technologies for the new system” (Hart, 2010, p. 8). This transition can also be explained using the Marxism political economy, which considers the international system as an integrated capitalistic system, whose main endeavour is an accumulation of capital hence explaining the distribution of power in digital media. The distribution of power in digital media tends to be enhanced by active accumulation of viewers, listeners, and readers by media organisations through commercials and advertisements. In a similar version, the idea that contemporary media culture addresses its audience in terms of hyper-flexibility and autonomous consumers is an apparent reflection of the material interests, hence the reason TV transitioned to digital broadcasting (Holt & Perren, 2009). In this regard, the decision for television and communication to move from analogue to digital can, therefore, be seen to be motivated by economic gain.

Another economic perspective is that the transition of TV and communications from analogue to digital was influenced by the fact that the media world is characterized by commodification, commercialization, concentration, and corporatization hence the distribution of power in contemporary media. In particular, this is experienced through the Internet, where public space is commercialised, and therefore expanding consumer culture. The need to expand the consumer culture and reach a wide audience is part of the reasons for the transition of TV from analogue to digital. This can also be explained in the sense that communication and information have become crucial components of marketization hence the reason for transforming TV to digital to ensure that TV sells its programs and services to a vast audience (Wasko, 2014). The desire to generate more revenues by targeting a wider audience is an economic explanation of why TV and communications transitioned from analogue system to digital system.

In sum, the transition of TV and communications from an analogue system to digital system was partly due to technological transformations and economic motive. With respect to technological transformation, the development of High Definition Television and HDD that enables the storage of transmitted broadcasts is why TV and communications moved to digital. In this case, the HDD revolution was considered an imperative move towards digitizing TV because it allows TV broadcasters to time-shift shows by recording them and watching them afterward. The growth of exponential growth of mobile technologies is another reason TV and communications went digital because they created the public sphere through structural, representation, and interaction dimensions. Economically, the need to achieve power through the active accumulation of viewers, listeners, and readers by media organisations through commercials and advertisements also represented another reason for TV and communications going digital.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reference List

Hart, J. A. (2010) ‘The Transition to Digital Television in the United States: The Endgame’, International Journal of Digital Television, 1(1), 7-29.

Holt, J., & Perren, A. (2009), Media Industries: History, Theory, and Method, Chichester, West Sussex, Wiley-Blackwell.

Menez, E., & de Quadros, R. Q. (2009) ‘Impacts of New Technologies on Free-to-Air TV Industry: Lessons from Selected Country Cases’, Journal of Technology Management & Innovation, 4(4), 82-94.

Taylor, G. (2010) ‘Shut-Off: The Digital Television Transition in the United States and Canada’, Canadian Journal of Communication35(1), 7-25.

Wahlström, M. A., & Kankainen, A. (2011) ‘Digital TV Transition and the Hard Disk Drive Revolution in Television Viewing’, International Journal of Communication5, 1606-1622.

Wasko, J. (2014) ‘The study of the political economy of the media in the twenty-first century’, International Journal of Media & Cultural Politics10(3), 259-271.

 

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