Cannes 2011: The second Golden Age of TV

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Cannes | In Advertising
Last updated : June 23, 2011
Day Three began with a discussion on how TV is practically everywhere and why it is currently in its second Golden Age.

Scores of aspiring audiences were turned away from the Debussy on Wednesday morning because the authorities ran out of seats for the day's first session! The session was titled 'Thinking Inside the Box - The Golden Age of TV. Everywhere.' and it addressed how TV as a medium has now entered into its second glorious era.

The speakers included Jeff Bewkes, chairperson and chief executive officer, Time Warner, Piers Morgan, host, CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight, David Simon, journalist, author and TV producer, and Aaron Sorkin, playwright and screenwriter.

Morgan began by introducing the topic. He reminded the audience that currently we're at a stage where TV is entering its second golden era and that TV as we know it is bound to change in the next 20 years. "It has evolved from being a piece on your wall to something you carry around with you when you step out of your home - but TV is TV in all its forms and it is everywhere!"

He insisted that even YouTube videos comprise TV because at the end of the day they are television videos on a screen. Morgan predicted that TV ads were also set to get more innovative and customised. "Also, the TV business is merging with the 'on demand' business and this combination is making the medium more powerful than ever before," Morgan added.

Simon contributed that TV is no longer an "appointment-driven experience", rather it has begun moving into the "telepathic and intuitive storytelling" space. Sorkin, who spoke mainly about entertainment-driven American TV, stated that today, TV is a medium towards which most actors from theatre and films gravitate because it has so much to offer.

"And for the viewers, TV is no longer a passive, one-way street like radio," said Sorkin, adding, "You can no longer leave it on in the background or watch TV while multi-tasking."

Bewkes drew an interesting parallel between TV and books, stating that TV today bears informative programming, watching which is akin to reading books.

Of course, the 'TV versus internet' debate was not too far. Morgan pointed out that contrary to popular belief, the internet is no longer an enemy for TV and that the net could actually drive TV ratings in a big way. Though Twitter has emerged as the primary source of real time news for most people, Morgan insisted that social media news serves to make people head back to their TV sets to get the details. Simon agreed and added that in the same way, TV had replaced print when it first became popular, but people still went back to their papers for the full story.

"TV captured the immediacy of the news but print had more details. Similarly, today, news on Twitter beings you the news first and does so very fast but lacks explanatory journalism." For this, he said, people refer to their TV sets.

Sorkin concluded that years back, TV was in its first Golden Age - thanks to its reach as it could simultaneously reach so many people. When movies moved onto TV, it became a popular medium for transmitting commercial messages and most artists gravitated towards TV, too.

Today, however, by virtue of its multiple screen presence and the fact that it is everywhere at all times and works well in tandem with other media (such as the internet and mobile platforms), TV has reached its second Golden Age that is here to stay.

To view interviews from Cannes 2011, click here.

First Published : June 23, 2011
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