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Chronomedia 1982

Predictions from 1982

Kenneth Baker
1934- ; British politician; Minister for Information Technology.
By the end of the decade multi-channel cable television will be commonplace in-home countrywide—TV will be used for armchair shopping, banking, calling emergency services and many other services.

Jack Valenti
President, Motion Picture Association of America.
Eight out of 10 films—now, listen. These two statistics I am going to give you are really the nerve center of the statistical summary that you will have. Eight out of ten films do not retrieve their investment from theatrical exhibition. And six out of 10 films do not retrieve their total investment, period. Now, what are you going to do right on top of that?
       There is going to be a VCR avalanche. Exports of VCRs from Japan totaled 2.57m units in 1981. No. 2, the United States is the biggest market. No. 3, February 1982, which is the latest data, shows the imports to the United States are up 57 per cent over 1981. This is more than a tidal wave. It is more than an avalanche. It is here.
        Now, that is where the problem is. You take the high risk, which means we must go by the aftermarkets to recoup our investments. If those aftermarkets are decimated, shrunken, collapsed because of what I am going to be explaining to you in a minute, because of the fact that the VCR is stripping ... those markets clean of our profit potential, you are going to have devastation in this marketplace.
        Now, is this all? Is it going to get any bigger? Well, I assure you it is. Here is the weekly Variety, Wednesday, March 10. Headline: 'Sony Sees $400 Billion Global Electronics Business by the Decade's End'. $400bn by the decade's end.
        In 1981, Mr. Chairman, this United States had a $5.3bn trade deficit with Japan on electronic equipment alone. We are going to bleed and bleed and hemorrhage, unless this Congress at least protects one industry that is able to retrieve a surplus balance of trade and whose total future depends on its protection from the savagery and the ravages of this machine.

[On tape running time]
In those days, first, there was only about an hour's recording time on a cassette. Nobody could really collect cassettes because you couldn't record long enough. Soon, they got up to two hours, three hours. Now, they are up to six hours. They are going to be up to 24 hours. Pretty soon, they will have a cassette that will record all year long, I suppose.

[On social effects]
By 1990, the Japanese estimate that 30m-35m US homes will be equipped with VCRs. VCR owners will buy about 225m or 300m blank tapes. But, and here is an explosive political fact, Mr Chairman, two-thirds of US households will not own VCRs, Mr Chairman. One-third of VCR households will not be on cable or won't have access to cable. Now, if there is a scarcity of film and television entertainment, it won't be the well-groomed and the well-heeled that will suffer. It is going to be, as always it is, Mr Chairman, the less affluent, the disadvantaged people pressed against the wall, out of work, who can't afford these expensive machines, and free television to the sick and the old and the poor will remain the primary source of home entertainment.
        Now, when a producer takes in less from these other markets, he is going to invest less. When your profit potential shrinks, you pull back. You produce less and you stay as long as you can in markets where you think you can make some money without having a VCR lay waste to your profit.
        The loser will be your public because they don't have these expensive machines. And that is what I am saying, sir. The public is the loser when creative property is taken and here is the reason why. The investment of hundreds of millions of dollars each year to produce quality programs to theaters and television will surely decline.

Evidence to a Subcommittee on Courts, Civil Liberties, and the Administration of Justice of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, Ninety-seventh Congress. Hearing on home recording of copyrighted works, 12 April 1982

By 1990, 57.7m US households had VCRs, a penetration rate of 62.6 per cent of all television households; 56.3m households (61.2 per cent) were on cable. (By 2001 VCR penetration was over 94 per cent, cable penetration around 70 per cent.)

Chronomedia 1982

Page updated 3 July 2009
Notes David Fisher