In Hollywood, ya gotta have connections now more than ever. And I don't mean the kind you can make at Spago, or the Peninsula.

I'm talking digital connections.

The vibrancy, maybe even the survival, of the entertainment industry rests on moving digital content around the world quickly, seamlessly.

Nationally and internationally, studios, producers and post-production companies now use a range of wired and wireless communication modes to deliver the goods to an audience. Everywhere, people are gobbling up dynamic entertainment.

It's nothing less than the birth of an entire industry of digital content creation and distribution, with L.A. at the center of explosive growth.

Think about the production schedule in the Hollywood of 1980. There were 161 movies produced that year, a slate of shows for the networks, and a small number of programs for syndication. In 1996, 240 pictures were released by members of the Motion Picture Association of America, and there were hundreds of TV shows made for all kinds of markets. New distribution technologies are key to that increased production.

Since the 1970s, Hollywood has seen the rise of cable networks and home video markets, both voracious consumers of content. Now, it's the Internet and broadband networks fueling industry expansion.

Everybody knows what the Web is (even my 82-year-old, next-door neighbor, who calls it that newfangled thing that's creating all those gazillionaires and where kids learn how to make atom bombs while molesters stalk them). But not everybody knows what broadband is because less than 10 percent of the population now subscribes to the service. Broadband refers to high-speed Internet access over telephone and cable networks. When it comes via phone lines, it's called DSL (digital subscriber lines). Over cable, it's simple "cable modem service."

These networks can carry a lot of information compared to telephone lines, but broadband via cable is nowhere near as capacious as over-the-air broadcast TV channels.

Broadband service is really designed to bring video to personal computers, rather than TVs, so video via computer looks pretty good, unless the Internet is congested. If the Internet is jammed up, of course, both audio and video get all jerky and weird, unlistenable and unwatchable. But with broadband, that herky-jerky content delivery is minimized. As new technology continues to emerge, the quality of online content delivery systems will improve dramatically, and that is one of the primary reasons that the production of content is booming.


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