A special report on television: An interactive future – the last remaining mass medium needs to engage with its audience and target its offerings

Much of this is misguided. People spend more time watching television now than they did when rappers attacked it with songs. As a thorough study by the Council for Research Excellence has shown, Americans spend more time watching television than they spend surfing the web, sending e-mails, watching DVDs, playing computer games, reading newspapers and talking on mobile phones put together. Television is not disappearing. But nor is it the only star in the sky.The internet, both fixed and mobile, poses a growing challenge to television. It lures advertisers with promises of precision: why pay huge sums to scatter a message among millions of people when you can target the few who seem to be interested in your product? To consumers it promises choice, engagement and a low (or no) price. And the internet has powerful backers. Despite all that hand-wringing over the dangers of technology, governments from South Korea to Sweden seem to regard universal fast broadband as a human right, to be paid for out of general taxation.

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