Yesterday a friend and I were discussing television versus the Internet. Yes, my friends and I do, on rare occasions, talk about things other than ART. She proposed that the "Web" would not really catch on as a marketing media until they simplified it and put it on TV as WebTV has done. It's an interesting viewpoint, and perhaps very perceptive. But I'm not so sure whether the "Web" will be put on TV or perhaps the opposite, TV will appear on the Web. Maybe it will be more on the order of a merger as cable begins to carry Internet access. I say this despite the upcoming debut of HDTV. Right now all the movement is in Web technology. The web is ACTIVE whereas TV is PASSIVE, and we all know that active usually wins out over passive.
TV is a monolithic blunderbuss so massively regulated it's incapable of much real technologic progress. I don't have to tell you how UNregulated the Internet and the computer industry are, and how sprightly they are in terms of embracing new technologies. The internet is already devouring TV's audience share and eating away at its add revenue. Forty years ago, TV was doing that to magazine revenues, which led to the demise or restructuring of glossy, high-end news magazines such as "Look," "Life," and "Post."
I look for the Internet to gobble up most of the TV industry eventually. We saw a variation of that happen with the movie industry. TV practically DESTROYED it at one point in time during the 1950s. it was only when movies began to embrace TV as a means of distribution and promotion that they got back on their feet. And there was a far greater gulf between movies and TV in terms of their distribution than there is between TV and the Internet today. I look for TV to eventually follow the same course, to use the Internet as at least a secondary, perhaps eventually a PRIMARY means of distribution.
As for content, movies had the effect of liberalizing TV content. It's hard to imagine Internet content being any MORE liberal than it is now, so the question arises as to what effect (if any) TV will have on Internet content. Will it make the Internet more conservative and family oriented or will TV move toward being more like the Internet in terms of content? Personally, for better or worse, I tend to think the latter instance will probably be the case. Seldom does any artistic medium (I use that term in its broadest sense) become more conservative--at least not for long. I see the Internet as now too big, powerful, and fluent to adapt to the incredible restrictions of television. I think TV will have to either adapt to the internet, or else go the way of "Look," "Life," and "Post" in becoming a best minor media curiosities.