An Individual-Oriented Society

I wonder how the relationship between Livedoor and Fuji TV is going to unfold from now on. While the general shareholders' meeting of Nippon Broadcasting System Inc. will probably be an important event, I think that you can get a clear picture if you look at the Livedoor-Fuji paradigm from the perspective of the relationship between information technology and the media.

Ultimately both Softbank and Rakuten are thinking about a fusion with television, and in the past, when Asahi Broadcasting Corp. made overtures to Rupert Murdoch, essentially it was doing just the same thing as Livedoor.

Rakuten President Hiroshi Mikitani has said, "here is absolutely no meaning in making a division between broadcasting and communications. There is no difference between watching via the Internet and watching via the terrestrial waves. I am certain that they will integrate in the future." In other words, it can be said that Rakuten has its sights set on collaboration with a television station.

People often point to the failure of AOL and say that it would be difficult to integrate IT and broadcasting. But the AOL case was just too early; it doesn? serve as any reference at all. The world of communications has changed enormously since then, and the trend toward broadband will not be stopped.

What does this mean? Think of it: Each and every one of us has a mobile phone and enjoys the amazing convenience of cell phone conversations and e-mail. Not long ago, if we wanted to use the phone outside, we had to look for a public payphone. In comparison with that inconvenient situation, it would be quite revolutionary if every adult and every child carried a cell phone. This convenience overlaps with the very essence of human beings. Accordingly, it is only natural that, as a personal appliance, the cell phone is going to evolve in various ways.

The existing broadcasting stations, having gained approval, research and edit programs, add value, and transmit them to viewers via the radio waves. Naturally, while talking about the freedom of reporting, they sometimes pander to authority or force selfish values on viewers regardless of the impact that such programs have on the growth of their own children and thereby turn the public into total idiots.

The Internet, on the other hand, enables people to watch broadcasting with a cell-phone feeling and to participate in an interactive manner. In other words, unlike broadcasting, which is one-way and high-cost, the Internet can be used more easily and more conveniently. So the times really will undergo a transformation through the integration of broadcasting and communications. In the same way as the diffusion of the cell phone so that everybody has one, so the fusion of broadcasting and communications will lead to greater convenience and the evolution of an individual-oriented society.

Naturally, home televisions also will change from terrestrial-wave receivers to integrated-type TVs capable of receiving broadcasts from not only existing stations but also Internet TV stations. Moreover, their evolved interactive functions will be required to have high video quality and high sound quality.

At the same time, cell phones will evolve and become more commonplace, and I foresee them playing an active role in the reception and supply of information. The age of one-way traffic will come to an end, and we will enter an interactive and multilane age in which the flow of a variety of information in a variety of forms will become constant. This age will be created through the fusion of communications and broadcasting.

For this reason, the issue of deregulation in this field is sure to become a major theme. Since such deregulation will have the power to change politics as well, there are bound to be forces of resistance. But even so, the times are changing.