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Future reflections: Four scenarios for television in 2012

Foster, R. and Daymon, C. (2002) Future reflections: Four scenarios for television in 2012. Bournemouth Media School, Bournemouth, England.

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There is no doubt that the television industry in Britain has entered a period of fundamental and unpredictable change. Historical patterns of media consumption are changing and new markets are developing for a variety of entertainment and information experiences. Many of these changes are driven by technological advancements and changing consumer lifestyles. Corporate structures, strategic networks and competitor-collaborator relationships are increasingly characterised by their complexity. Traditional models of revenue generation are under pressure, and there are uncertainties about what will replace them. The present climate of economic instability accompanied by recent, unexpected jolts to the financial markets holds, as yet, indeterminate repercussions over the longer term for investment in the media. On the policy front, the tension between the challenges of an expanding market and the obligations of public service broadcasting suggest the need for an evolving regulatory framework. New contradictions are emerging such as those of globalism and the appeal of localism or even individualism. Paradoxically, forces for convergence appear to be shaping industry dynamics at the same time as pressures for diversity are reinforcing social and cultural differences. All of these have implications for how the television industry will develop over the next ten years.

For policy makers, industry regulators and corporate planners operating in this volatile environment, the usual tools for forecasting and strategic decision making are often less than effective. How do you plan for a future that is shifting, turbulent and characterised by uncertainty? Traditional techniques for planning and modelling require at least a modicum of predictability and stability.

From July 2001 to June 2002, twenty-seven key industry professionals came together to consider these issues with a view to developing ideas about how the television industry might prepare for and respond to the challenges of the next ten years. This report is an outcome of their discussions held over the twelve month period. The project, called Future Reflections, was initiated and facilitated by the Media School at Bournemouth University with research support from the Independent Television Commission and the British Screen Advisory Council.

The aims of the Future Reflections project were to:
• develop a set of scenarios about the future of television, collaboratively with industry experts
• help the television sector define and deal with common future issues
• contribute to public policy and debate concerning the long-term future of television
• contribute to the advancement of a theoretical framework for the scenario analysis approach.

The primary question addressed by the Future Reflections project was:

What is the television industry likely to look like in 2012 and what will be the implications for public policy and the management of companies involved in television?

This report, together with a seminar on 21 November 2002, is a final stage in the project, although it is intended to publish a number of articles in academic journals at a later date. The report presents a set of four possible scenarios for television in 2012 together with the issues and challenges associated with each of the scenarios.

Publication Type: Report
Series Name: Report for the British Television Industry
Publisher: Bournemouth Media School
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