Swedish TV-execs about the future

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Good Old Trend

The Swedish business magazine Affärsvärlden has an interview with the CEOs for Swedens largest tv-channel, TV4, and our public service alternative, SVT. Unfortunately, or surprisingly perhaps, they seem to share the same outlook on the future. I’ve translated the two quotes below:

From the interview with Jan Scherman, CEO of TV4:

Jan Scherman himself builds traditional channels with traditional TV charts in the newspapers, the opposite of what IT gurus like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Niklas Zennström predict. The trio believes that the viewers, in the future, click their way to what they want to see, when they want to see it.
– I don’t actually don’t believe that for one second. The reason being that there isn’t one example in all of world history where a new medium has entirely replaced another. The book still exists and is living well. I’m not against the development at all. But some sort of balance is needed.

From the interview with Eva Hamilton, CEO of SVT:

And that the viewers own choices would go as far as IT profiles Bill Gates and Niklas Zennström predicts, that the tv charts will disappear, she doesn’t, in agreement with Jan Scherman at TV4, agree to.
– That’s the old usual when new technology comes along. We’ve still got newspapers even if we’ve since then got radio, tv, video and now the internet.

I might be missing something here (I hope so at least), but have they both completely misunderstood what’s going on? It seems they think that TV is one thing – charted programmes that are sent through a box in people’s living rooms. And as they don’t think that will be replaced, we don’t have to worry about the new technology. A strange way of looking at it, to say the least.

The way I see it, what’s happening is a change of the distribution of the medium – not a change, or replacement, of the medium itself. It will naturally evolve in terms of length, quality and assortment – but it always has done that, so this is not news. What the new distribution will enable and enhance, is a new type of viewing behaviour. One that shouldn’t be ignored.

As I say in most of my presentations: the internet is a superior carrier of mediums, rather than just a medium among others. Newspapers, radio, TV and telephones are all better through the internet for many reasons – adding true interactivity being the major point.

The whole argument reminds of newspapers that think that they are in the newspaper business. They’re not. They’re in the news business, or even in the information providing business if you wish. TV4 and SVT are not in the TV-to-television business – they are in what we can call the TV-to-any-medium business, in lack of better phrasing.

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