ANTHONY R. GARGANO /
07.01.2011 12:00 PM
TV: the original social network
Television promotes the ultimate in interactivity.

Welcome to yet another installment of what I refer to as Broadcast Engineering's “Andy Rooney segment.” It's fun to be given the final page of this great magazine each month and the opportunity to write about virtually any topic related to this wonderful industry of ours. In keeping with the title on the magazine's masthead, I normally write on technical issues, although I have touched on business issues in our industry from time to time. But this month I stray. I am compelled to applaud our industry and all of those who participate in it, who contribute to it and who enable it. As a reader, it is highly likely you fall into one of those categories, and so dear reader, I applaud you.

The inspiration for this month's column came as a result of joining the estimated 2 billion viewers to watch a live fairy tale — the recent royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. As an aside, I must admit to an emotional connection to the fairy tale; the date of the wedding, April 29, was my own wedding anniversary date before my wife of 42 years succumbed to a long-term illness just two years ago. But back to the wedding; it was an event watched around the world as virtually the entire world paused to view this magical ceremony.

Think about it: 2 billion viewers. The world population today is more than 6 billion. Fully one-third of the entire world viewed this single event! It was viewed by Americans, Brits, Europeans and Asians; by Israelis and Palestinians; by Iraqis and Iranians; by North Koreans and South Koreans. For a few moments, the world was brought together to share in a dream, to perhaps fantasize what it might be like to have this experience or maybe for your child to have the experience. It was a brief pause in time from worry, from work, from war, for the joy of this event, and it was our industry and all who comprise it that enabled its delivery so the world could view it. It was our technology and all those who create it, support it and somehow utilize it that allowed the world to come together to share a moment in time.

As I viewed the event along with so many others, I couldn't help but to feel pride in this television business of ours and to be thankful for having the good fortune so many years ago to enter this business and make a career out of it. Indeed, once you enter this truly rewarding television industry, it gets into your blood. It becomes more than a career; it becomes a passion. And, it is a passion that can have a profound effect on the world around us. Television can not only deliver the fairy tale of a royal wedding, but it can also deliver the horror, the riveting images of collapsing buildings and of people falling out of the sky as happened a decade ago in lower Manhattan. And it can sadly deliver the pathos of a tsunami halfway around the world and a tornado here at home. But it can also create a singing sensation from a rather plain looking Scottish spinster. And it can unite sports enthusiasts around the world with Super Bowls, World Cups and the more than 1 billion viewers in Asia of the most recent Cricket World Cup.

It is said by some that we live in a new age of emerging social networks. The leader, Facebook, now claims to have more than 500 million users. But I would posit that it is television that is the original social network and continues to be far and away the largest. But Facebook has imminent interactivity and television does not, you say. Really? How many comments and discussions did you have with friends and family about that royal wedding you watched? About that Super Bowl you viewed? About those 9/11 images that brought tears to your eyes? No, I would suggest that it is television that promotes the ultimate in interactivity.

In the pressures of day-to-day activities and responsibilities, we typically don't have the time to take a step back, consider the business we're in and to think about our contribution, no matter how small. So, take pride in your television industry, and be proud of your role in it.


Anthony R. Gargano is a consultant and former industry executive.

Send questions and comments to: anthony.gargano@penton.com



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