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Our 1965 tv predictions

This Page was originally put onto my web site in 1995 as a part of my contribution to a thread on one of the Acorn Computer newsgroups. It was revised in 2005 and again in 2015.

In 1965 the British Computer Society set up a study group to consider the effect that computers were likely to have on the future of television over the next thirty years. I was a member of the Study Group.

Try to imagine 1965. No PCs, laptops or tablets, no mobile phones, no colour tv, no video recorders, no remote controls, no tv satellites, stereo sound on radio just beginning, tv broadcasting about 15 hours a day, most people had 1 BBC and 1 ITV channel.

So this is what we came up with:

By 1995
1 Everyone would have a colour tv with stereo sound
2 Broadcasting would be 24/7
3 Everyone would have access to 50+ channels
4 You could receive tv from all over the world
5 There would be separate channels for news, sport, children, films, documentaries etc
6 Except for news and sport all programmes would be recorded
7 Everyone could record their own programmes off the air
8 Broadcasting schedules would be based upon the assumption that, except for news and sport, you would record the programme to watch it when you wanted to do so not at the time it was broadcast

By 1995 I think 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7 had been achieved.

In our prediction we were thinking of receiving, say, Australian tv programmes directly, not watching a Australian test match being broadcast on British tv. 4 is now possible by video streaming, but was not in 1995.

Satellite and Cable tv boxes with integrated HD recorders and integrated tvs now allow individuals to write their own tv viewing schedules, but were not available in 1995. But the film channels, where a film is broadcast several times a day, and “1 hour + ” channels running the same programmes an hour later are exactly the opposite of what we had predicted.

We had not predicted Pay to View or Subscription Channels. I think this is why we were wrong about 8. As long as broadcasting is paid for by licence fees or by advertising 8 makes a lot of sense because the broadcaster does not lose revenue if you record the programme in order to watch it later. But this may not always be the case with Subscription or Pay to View tv. Today’s set top boxes and integrated tvs allow you to freeze-frame and fast-forward live tv, so allowing you to skip the advertisements, and this may affect advertising revenue in the long term. But this is a different matter.

Today many tv programmes and films are available on demand through players of one sort or another, on integrated tvs, PCs, laptops, tablets and mobile phones, and many programmes are only available in this way, but broadcasting schedules are still being based upon the idea that people prefer to watch live tv. I have not watched any live tv, except news, for a long time.

© Barry Gray January 2017