TV/radio in the 21st century

Date of publication: June 15, 1992

Author: Barry Kiefl


This paper draws upon more than twenty years of analysis and research and discusses audiences to radio and TV in the next century. The paper begins by recollecting audience behaviour some twenty years ago and the substantial changes that have taken place since. North America, as a result of cable TV, has a television/cable system that currently provides viewers with 30 or more channels from which to choose, making it an interesting case study for other countries. The paper examines what viewers do with all this choice and shows that only traditional, major networks are used with great frequency. Viewers have historically budgeted a fixed amount of time for the electronic media and if this is unchanged in the future, then any new TV channels or services will draw their audience from existing services. However, given the specialized programming on new cable channels, it is hypothesized that the major networks, while losing some audience to new channels, are more likely to retain their viewers than smaller, specialized channels. Historical trends in viewing behaviour reveal that Canadian audiences turn to indigenous news and sports programming. Viewing trends also show that, regardless of the amount of program choice, viewers tend to watch various program categories in equal measure. The paper concludes with a discussion of what current trends might mean in a future filled with digital, interactive :, telecomputers." The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent an official position of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Barry Kiefl


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