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Digitally Networked, 1990's Through Today

While it is entirely too early write a history of television technology over the past decade it can be noted that:

direct broadcast system dish antenna and digital video and music programming guide: click for more information about these images
  • The visions for television remain as grand today as they were in the beginning. Pundits still say the frontier remains limitless and predict that the marriage of digital technologies, broadband networks, and television will finally allow television to reach its greatest potential of being an interactive medium.

  • The reach of television is so pervasive (by 1994, 99% of US households had at least one TV) that presidential candidates buy television time to hold "town meetings."

  • Scientists and engineers still create technologies that expand the capabilities of television.

In the past decade closed-captioning has opened up television to millions of hearing-impaired viewers and V-Chips have enabled parents to take control over what their children watch. Digital video recorders are empowering television viewers at the same time they challenge traditional assumptions about television financing and viewing.

The FCC continues to play an active role in this changing television environment. In 1994 HDTV standards were established and a plan for the transition from analog to digital transmission of television programming has been rolled out throughout the decade.

The challenge ahead for viewers, members of the television industry, and the FCC will be to work together to harness television’s still evolving technologies in such a way that they ensure that all Americans share in the benefits of the digital revolution.

“Riding along on digital transmissions can be 'enhanced' content related to TV shows: You might click on the screen and buy the shirt the star of your favorite show is wearing, or read his biography onscreen. The long-unfulfilled promise of TV as an educational tool may come true as digital technology allows kids to interact with programs that adapt to their individual learning ability. Your cable provider could be responsible for your telephone calls and Internet access -- or your TV programs could come to you over the Internet, whenever you request them.”

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last reviewed/updated on 11/21/05 

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