Tom Freston: Technology and the Media

Question: How is technology changing the rules of traditional media?

Tom Freston: Well technology has always changed the rules of media. Media didn’t exist without technology. And technology really is sort of the prime mover. It has always made media . . . It . . . Technology has gradually put media more and more in the . . . in control . . . in the control of the hands of the consumer in terms of . . . I think the ultimate goal is allowing somebody to watch or listen to whatever they want whenever they want to. And so technology has expanded the spectrum of choices that were available. Just look at radio. You had a few radio stations. Then you have an FM band with infinite amount more choices. Satellite radio adds to that. And then on TV in America, people used to have three TV networks. Cable came along, you went to 12 channels, 35 channels, 54 channels, 108 channels. Now with video on demand, there’s essentially an endless amount of channels, and the control is in your hand with a remote control. And then you have the whole digital revolution that, you know, accelerated a lot of that and allowed that to happen, because it really made the bandwidth available and the technology available to cram all this stuff to make it available much more readily. The stuff, in many ways, has always been there. So it’s been how do you get it into the hands of the consumer? What’s the interface and so forth. And when you look at what’s going on today with . . . on the Internet with social networking, with broadband, you know, Web video outlets, and just the myriad of other things that are there, and then you put on the wireless and mobile applications, you can see really that the history has been one of technology really kind of leading the way. And then innovators or programmers figure out ways to use this now in an effective way to reach people, make money from it, whatever. But the chief beneficiary has been the consumer throughout all of this.

Recorded On: 7/6/07

Freston, on how technology is changing the rules of the game.

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