Fordham International Law Journal
Volume 21, Issue 2
Role of Technology in Communication
Stephen A. Weiswasser∗
Copyright c 1997 by the authors. Fordham International Law Journal is produced by The Berkeley Electronic Press (bepress). http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/ilj
Role of Technology in Communication
Stephen A. Weiswasser
Speech given at Session 2: World Communication: Where is Technology Leading Us? Mr. Weiswasser about the role of technology in communications from the perspective of somebody who is in the entertainment and information business, what he called the content business–meaning television programs.
ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY IN
Stephen A. Weiswasser*
If you sit where we're sitting, you see a gradual recognition in this audience that the weather outside is balmy and warm and pleasant, and that the crowd is getting smaller. I know it's not the quality of the speech; it is the lateness of the hour. I'm going to try to be brief.
But, I do have to say, it reminds me of the story of a fellow who was part of a large panel of people who were called upon to speak at a banquet one evening. He couldn't help but notice
that after each speech, the audience kept getting smaller and smaller and smaller, until just as it was his turn to get up and speak he discovered there was only one other person left in the hall. He said to the other fellow, "I really appreciate that you're here to hear my remarks this evening under these circumstances. Can you tell me why it is you're here?" The fellow said, "I'm the next speaker."
I really will try to be brief because I don't want that to happen to my colleagues up here who have probably far more profound things to say than I do.
I do want to talk about the role of technology in communications from the rather different perspective of somebody who is in the entertainment and information business, what we like to call the content business - and we don't mean the same thing using that term that the people in the computer business mean. We don't mean software. We really mean television programs.
From my perspective, several of the speeches earlier today
- and I think maybe we should have an opportunity to discuss them - are reminiscent of what I heard two years ago when I
was invited to take my current position as CEO of a venture that was going to revolutionize the American television and telephone industry. Two years ago, the world was about to change. The cable
industry was going into telephones. AT&T, without any help
from a regional Bell company, was going to invade the local loop * President and Chief Executive Officer, Americast.
system of all of the Regional Bell Operating Companies. My telephone companies were going to go, in a major way, into the creation, through the telephone line, the fiber optic line, of a broadband, highly interactive television and services business. We were all going to compete with each other merrily from that time forward. And the American consumers were going to invite us all into their homes and spend great deals of money to get all of the services we were creating.
I quickly recognized that I was there in part because of the cable industry and AT&T. I remember telling a reporter about a year and a half ago that, if the cable industry.- particularlyJohn Malone, who was the CEO of TCI and Gerry Levin, who is the
CEO of Time Warner - were to announce that they weren't
going to go into the telephone business, I would get a call from at least one member of my board the next day wondering why I was still there.
Well, the fact is that they both announced a withdrawal of
their telephoning plans and have moved on to doing other
things. Nonetheless, I am still here.
As somebody suggested earlier, the great full-service network that Time Warner was building in Florida is disappearing. AT&T has not yet shown up in the local...
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