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Craig Parshall, General Counsel

 

Your Ride on the Bullet Train

January 10, 2012

Guess what 10 million people are talking about today? According to a study discussed in MIT’s Technology Review, that is the number of folks who are daily using “new media” platforms (Twitter, Facebook) to comment about a program they watched on television (old media) last night.

This kind of dynamic between the new and old communication technologies is very telling. It raised its head again yesterday in an unlikely place – in the chambers of the Supreme Court during oral arguments in FCC v. FOX, the broadcast indecency case in which NRB had filed an Amicus brief. One Justice noted that broadcast TV might soon be going “the way of vinyl records and 8 track tapes.”

We have been warned. As further proof of this complex, combustible synergy between old and new media, consider these Washington-based issues pending right now: (1) NRB has filed a Comment with the FCC opposing the proposal to mandate all TV stations (the “old” model) to post on the Internet (the “new” model) all “political files” and records regarding contacts with political or issue-advocacy groups seeking air-time for ads; (2) Congress is holding hearings on whether to clamp down on websites (new media) that might infringe the copyrights of DVDs, CD’s and videos (old media); (3) The FCC wants to reallocate broadcast spectrum (TV frequency is the old-standby) for use by the wireless industry (for their new handheld technologies). 

The Christian media is facing a communications revolution. This changing media landscape where the old and new tech modalities at times seem conflicting, other times complementary, is not just about technology: it is about expanding Gospel-based media technology in earthly terms so we can respond with excellence to the heavenly Great Commission. But with the speed of a bullet train, this revolution threatens to pass us by if we do not engage it.

What can we do? Here is one practical suggestion – attend the NRB annual convention in Nashville in February. I count more than twenty educational sessions slated to discuss how you can catch up, keep up, and train-up in these tech related issues. Take the time not just to attend, but to dialogue with others in your field of ministry. Challenge one another. And climb aboard, before the train leaves the station.