Moving to the means of distribution, the
Internet is rapidly getting to the point where it will be as ubiquitous as mains
electricity so there is no lack of potential audience. The cost of becoming
a content provider on the World Wide Web is low (or free) for low bandwidth
text and graphics sites. Finding a host for near broadcast standard footage
is still more expensive than it should be – you could find yourself paying several
hundred pounds/dollars annually to rent disk space that cost the host beer money.
Also the host’s bandwidth charge would be prohibitive if your material
proved at all popular. This link in the chain, it has to be said, isn’t
quite as firmly in place as it should be.
The bandwidth you might get from your Internet connection is variable according
to whether you live in a forward thinking technologically orientated country,
or a backwater where one company might own all of the copper wire going into
homes and businesses and use their monopoly position to restrict access as it
suits them (British Telecom in the UK). Still, the tide is relentless and high
bandwidth connections will ultimately become available in most parts of the
civilized world. Currently the Internet is largely unregulated and anyone who
wants a website can have one. This means that anyone who wants a channel can
have one too. Unfortunately the courts in some countries have shown that the
establishment has a taste for control and regulation that will be difficult
to set aside. In the UK, it seems that anyone who has a grievance against a
newsgroup posting can apply to ISPs to have it removed. ISPs are almost constrained
to comply whether or not the posting was libelous. In France, Yahoo has been
ordered to deny access to a website purveying World War II memorabilia. There
is certainly an abundance of distasteful material on the Internet, but there
is too an abundance of distasteful material traveling via the telephone and
mail systems and we don’t blame the carrier for the contents of the message.
An interesting topic but to pursue it further would be outside of the scope
of this article.
As long as the conventional broadcasting regulatory authorities are not given
the remit to control the number of channels on the Internet, and there is certainly
no indication that anything of this nature might happen, there is no limit to
the number of channels available, and each one has the potential to broadcast
to the entire world. Additionally, even now in a predominantly low bandwidth
world, the Internet serves as a means of getting your work shown, and perhaps
picked up by someone with money to invest. More on this later.