Content production is what we should be teaching

December 30, 2009 | By Jim Stovall | Filed in: journalism.

Two of the most memorable lines that have come from the movies in the last 40 years are:

“I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.” (The Godfather)

“If you build it, they will come.” (Field of Dreams)

Those lines came to mind as I considered the implications of the Associated Press analysis on why the old broadcast, over-the-air model of distributing content may be fading away. The article, “Free broadcast TV may go way of the VHS tape,” can be found on MSNBC (without a byline). It explores the issue of broadcast networks trying to get a bigger cut of the cable television pie.

The thrust of the article looks toward a time when consumers will have to pay for their television shows rather than getting them “free” over the air (which most of us don’t do anyway) and having them subsidized by advertising. The current battles described in the article between and among networks, affiliates and cable companies — vicious as they are — are probably just intermediate. They won’t determine where we are with all of this in five or ten years.

And that’s what I was trying to sort out when I thought about what is going on.

It’s pretty easy to see that the current system of content production, distribution and payment is collapsing.

And it’s also obvious to identify the three groups that will control all of this in the future:

content producers

technology producers

distribution outlets

Ultimately, I think, the technology producers and the distribution outlets will need the content producers more than the content producers will need the other two. It won’t be quite as clean and simple as that, but it looks like that’s where we’re headed.

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