Broadcasting in the Year 2000

Back when the 21st century was first opening itself up to us, we wondered what it would mean for television. This was a time when getting on the internet meant dialing a phone number, when printed magazines were the best way to get information, and when the promise of high definition TV was still in the future.

Our Signal Pro Jason found this scan of Broadcasting and Cable’s July edition. That’s right, this was a printed magazine that someone scanned into a computer for us to share. That’s how we did things back then. It’s full of millennially bad design decisions and a bit of wince-worthy endorsement of Bill Cosby. Still, if you really want to get to the fun part, scroll to page 43 of the PDF.

Digital Television – the next challenge

This is a whole section put out by the Consumer Electronics Association — the people who used to put on the CES show — promoting digital television as “the future.” I guess in 2000 people had to be convinced, at least the people who read this magazine. Here you’ll find articles talking about where you can get a digital TV, why we shouldn’t delay in adopting standards, and why in the “future” digital broadcasting will offer a whole new world of opportunities.

Of course we know that digital TVadoption took place in 2009 and that those broadcasters who sought delays ended up going along with the rest of the industry. Practically all TV is digital now and most of it is also high definition.

Will 4K deniers look just as silly?

Looking at the TV market today, there are people who say that 4K  over-the-air TV won’t save a declining industry and that it’s important to delay 4K adoption. I’ve even said something similar in the past. Will those people look just as silly when people look at the argument from twenty years in our future?

Of course it’s impossible to know, but there is a big difference here. Digital television had strong support in Congress, who put in plenty of money to help people transition. It allowed broadcasters to pack stations in more closely so that more channels could be allocated to other services like the then-new world of cellular data. Plus, there was a huge enthusiast market who were clamoring for HDTV and even back in 2000 there were a fair number of companies supporting it.

None of those things is true today unfortunately. While many people have bought 4K televisions, it’s nothing compared to the enthusiast outcry a generation ago. Today’s consumers are finally buying 4K TVs because the price is comparable to recent HDTVs so why not. That’s a far cry from the people who paid over $20,000 in Y2K money to get an HDTV.  Sadly that HDTV would probably become obsolete in just a few years.