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The future role of British television: A scenario analysis study of British TV

Daymon, C. (2003) The future role of British television: A scenario analysis study of British TV. In: Australia and New Zealand Communication Association Conference (ANZCA03): Designing Communication Through Diversity, 9 - 11 July 2003, QUT, Brisbane


Few would deny that television, and the electronic media in Britain are experiencing fundamental change. Historical patterns of media consumption are mutating and new markets are developing for a variety of entertainment and information experiences. Corporate structures, strategic networks and competitor-collaborator relationships are increasingly characterised by their complexity. In this dynamic environment, the future role of television is highly uncertain.

This paper considers the role of television in Britain over the next ten years taking note of potential changes in television as an industry and as a medium. Using scenario analysis as a methodology, the paper draws on the findings of interviews and workshops with senior executives and opinion leaders from across the British television industry and related sectors. This is one of the few occasions where scenario analysis has been used at an industry level (rather than within an individual company) to bring together competitors and collaborators to develop a set of narratives about what the future might hold over the next decade.

Four different scenarios are presented including their implications for the nature and structure of the industry, and the social impact of television. In terms of television as an industry, the scenarios suggest that the television suppliers will either be increasingly pummelled by forces for convergence, leading to greater vertical and horizontal integration, or find themselves marginalised by new entrants to the industry, and by increasing peer-to-peer activity. Whichever outcome transpires, they will be involved also in processes of differentiation because of the proliferation of new media technologies, services and providers. In terms of television as a medium, depending on which scenario develops, its role will shift between contributing to social and cultural cohesion, and reflecting and promoting diversity. This will be affected to some extent by global and transnational relations.

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