In getting news to the people, there have been countless advances in technology across the ages. Up until the 20th century, two of the most significant had been the creation of the printing press and the advent of radio. But, during the first half of the 1900s, even greater leaps were made with the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) starting to harness the potential of new broadcast media technologies.
The evolution of broadcast media technology has arguably continued to accelerate ever since. We’re now more connected than ever before. The world is now a smaller place, with the latest news stories ready for us on demand, on-the-go and on anything piece of equipment with a screen or speaker. It’s been a whirlwind adventure. And it hasn’t stopped yet. It hasn’t even slowed down to take a breath.
The Evolution Of Broadcast Media
At first, and for a large chunk of the mid-to-late 20th century, broadcast media was a relatively simple concept. The source – or broadcaster – distributes its audio/video content using radio waves. Signals carrying this content are sent through the air using a transmitter, amplified by an antenna and picked up by a receiver. And, even in this digital age, this analogue method still has a role to play.
The Digital Era
In the UK, the conventional analogue TV signal is no longer available. The move to digital technology forced it into retirement after 75 years. It’s also changed how TV cameras film content for broadcast. And most people in the UK are now dependent on digital devices for the news they receive.
Ofcom research has found that smartphone ownership increased from 17% to 78% in just 10 years – between 2008 and 2018. The internet has become an essential part of many people’s lives. And this has forced broadcasters and journalists to change the shape and form we receive our news.
New Opportunities And New Challenges
Of course, new technology can create new habits. And, with new habits come new challenges. In the broadcast space, this has been keenly felt. Where rolling news once transformed the broadcast news space, it can be left behind by the instant nature of social media and citizen journalist reporting.
Radio broadcasting has been further enhanced with higher RF power capabilities that can support newer technologies such as 5G cellular networks. The average time we spend on our smartphones has gone past the two-hour mark already. With better, faster data, could that time increase yet further?
The bottom line is that broadcasters have been forced to adapt from the notion that an audience will take what content is offered to them. The audience is now, arguably, looking for a personalised news experience – and one that is compatible with shorter times using conventional media.
So, Where Next?
For broadcast media to remain relevant, there is a need to better understand what their audience is looking for. It will also coincide with the next round of technological evolution. It’s not just 5G that’ll be a major driver of change. Trends such as artificial intelligence and voice control are also present.
Deloitte reports that augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) is starting to emerge as a force in media and entertainment. It could enable enhanced broadcast experiences such as concerts or even allow audiences to immerse themselves in the media they are being served.
No matter what further developments come the way of the broadcast media industry, it has already proved it can adapt and evolve in tune. And it continues to serve its audience’s needs as a result.