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Prime Time Is My Time14

Anything, Anytime, Anywhere Television

Some of the world's most senior telephone executives recite the jingle "Anything, anytime, anywhere" like a poem for modern mobility. But my goal (and I suspect yours) is to have "Nothing, never, nowhere" unless it is timely, important, amusing, relevant, or capable of reaching my imagination. AAA stinks as a paradigm for telecommunications. But it is a beautiful way to think about television.

When we hear about a thousand channels of TV, we tend to forget that, even without satellite, we already have more than a thousand programs per day delivered to our homes. Admittedly, they are sent at all--and odd--hours. When the 150-plus channels of TV listed in Satellite TV Week are included, the result is an additional 2,700 or more programs available in a single day.

If your TV could record every program transmitted, you would already have five times the selectivity offered in the superhighway's broad-brush style of thinking. Say, instead of keeping them all, you have your TV agent grab the one or two in which you might have interest, for your future viewing at any time.

Now let AAA-TV expand to a global infrastructure of fifteen thousand channels of television and the quantitative and the qualitative changes become very interesting. Some Americans might watch Spanish television to perfect their Spanish, others might follow Channel 11 on Swiss cable to see unedited German nudity (at 5 p.m. New York time), and the 2 million Greek Americans might find it interesting to see any one of the three national or seven regional channels from Greece.

More interesting, perhaps, is the fact that the British devote seventy-five hours per year to the coverage of chess championships and the French commit eighty hours of viewing to the Tour de France. Surely American chess and bicycle enthusiasts would enjoy access to these events--anytime, anywhere.

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