I've had an epiphany. Well it's been building for a while.
To cut a long story short ... there is no point trying to get a disability TV show on TV any more. Not on the big mainstream channels. Whatever you might want to see as a disabled viewer isn't going to happen.
Informed realism in the way I would want it isn't going to make it before TV starts to fragment hugely and 'mainstream' as a concept dies.
Mainstream, as we know it now, isn't going to be around for too much longer. To put it another way, everybody wil be a broadcaster soon.
If you want your ideas to 'get out there' and succeed then Youtube.com and other similar sites are going to be the answer. And if you remember that the web and TV are going to be less and less distinguishable within the next 5 to 10 years, it's not going to be a geeky backroom 'sit forward' office thing, it'll be a living room 'sit back' experience.
Lets stick with YouTube for a sec. Google have just bought it for just under a billion pounds. Already they're discussing that the business model for YouTube in the future will include advertising. The suggestion is that, if you upload a video, you will receive a share of that advetising money. And so if you can get enough people to watch it, via whatever means - viral marketing, press publicity, word of mouth, blog talk, whatever - you could be sitting on a small fortune that could sustain your lifestyle as an artist. An artist with a following could make lots of money if 90,000 or 8 million people click onto their latest video.
Who will be the stars of the future? Minority markets could well drive huge numbers of hits, especially if they are starved of the kind of content they'er after on mainstream channels. That's if channels still exist. By May next year we will be saturated with dozens of new ways to download, vodcast, podcast and share television and radio. Sky, BBC, Channel 4, Ch Five and even the usually slow ITV are all developing their various Video on Demand / iPlayer models.
They may be on the net to begin with but how are we going to be consuming video in the next few years anyway? The iPod TV is going to launch next year. The new Windows Vista operating system (replacement for XP) is launched with more multimedia capability and emphasis on transmitting to your TV set. BT Vision launches this November: it's a broadband TV set-top broadband box; some are calling it Freeview plus because that's what it is - Freeview ariel TV integrated with a seemless broadband offering that will let you get Video on Demand from its servers.
Sky are buying up broadband companies like nuts. Why? Because rupert Murdoch realises now that he has a hell of a white elephant on his hands. Sky has 9 million households with ugly great dishes on their rooftops. Lots of people would like to get rid of those dishes, dishes he gave away for free! He badly needs to get into what's been dubbed 'multicasting' - TV delivered over the web (IPTV protocol for the geeks out there). You can't do Video on Demand with a limited satellite system, nor via the airwaves with current Freeview boxes.
ADSL via your phone will be the main driver of multicast / Video on Demand TV. Broadcasts from many to many unlike broadcast which is from one transmitter to many. Advertising will be a dream too on this multicast platform, direct ads for the kind of person it already knows you are based on your TV viewing habits that it monitors.
Back to the disability point though:
production companies could well soon have the upper hand over what we now see as the main broadcasters. Content is king. If you've made some content, wy do you need a channel to show it on when Video on Demand exists? Why does Endemol need to sell Big Brother to Channel 4 if it could just stream it for itself?
You could just put your home made TV show up on your own website/servers in the future. All you need to do then is get the message out there that your show exists or get it listed somehow on the electronic programme guide connected with the set-top box system you've got with BT or NTL or Sky or whoever.
The first stage of Video on Demand will be a closed circuit, BT Vision for instance will not immediately be hooking up to the entire internet from this November we think but that will have to change.
They're already talking about including YouTube players in settop boxes. Or BBC / ITV players. Who will get there first? Whose software will be king? Don't know. Will it even work like that? It'll definitely be hooked up to your main broadband connection though.
What will mainstream be? The things at the top of the electronic menu this evening?
Disability groups round the world, creative people etc, should be thinking hard NOW about possible productions. I predict lots of applications to the Arts council to make TV shows in the near future. I predict a supportive network for minority TV. I predict also that some minority TV shows will get picked up by what we now call the mainstream. The 'mainstream' broadcasters will find that current easy-to-watch bubble gum TV might be discarded in favour of very niche shows that individual viewers have heard about. The mainstream will be wanting to go niche too.
This isn't a fully worked up article, it's a stream of consciousness that I'm hoping to turn into an article soon. Am interested in any feedback from anyone on this.