Television - Matt's Media Research

(Straubhaar & LaRose, 2006)
• 1922: Philo Farnsworth invents the
electronic image dissector.
• 1925: First television transmission.
• 1936: British Broadcasting Corporation
(BBC) opens the first electronic television
service in 1936.
• 1941: National Television Systems
Committee (NTSC) establishes the
standards for broadcast television.
• 1941-1945: United States involvement in
World War II delays the proliferation of
• 1945-1950s: Soldiers return home and
families move to the suburbs where
television quickly proliferates.
• 1948-1952: The rapid emergence of new
stations and disagreements over
standards for the color television
technology lead to a “freeze” on the
issuing of licenses. Because many smaller
cities were left without reception, this also
contributed to the growth of cable
• 1952: The FCC’s Sixth Report and Order
establishes a division between VHF (very
high frequency) channels (2-13) and UHF
(ultra high frequency channels (14-69).
• 1950s: Television’s “Golden Age”
– In the 1950s, television networks (CBS, NBC,
and ABC) experienced tremendous growth
and prosperity through the rise of affiliates
and “owned and operated” stations.
– Classic entertainment programming included
programs such as The Twilight Zone, The
Texaco Star Theater, I Love Lucy.
– Broadcast news included programs such as
Meet the Press and See it Now.
• Early television programs had a single
sponsor, but, as programs became more
ambitious and expensive, networks
adopted the practice of selling time slots to
multiple sponsors.
• As television’s reach spread beyond
urban, educated elites, quality
programming declined in the ratings.
• 1967: The Public Broadcasting Act
established the Corporation for Public
Broadcasting to finance programming with
tax money.
• 1970: The FCC enforces the Financial
Interest in Syndication rules (Fin-Syn)
prohibiting networks from profiting from
syndication at the expense of producers.
• 1972: FCC opens cities to cable.
• 1975: HBO is the first to make use of
satellite technology in broadcasting.
• 1976: TBS forms starts “basic cable”
subsidized by nationalized advertising
• 1987: Fox network begins.
• 1996: Telecommunications Act of 1996
triggers a wave of mergers.
• 1998: Broadcast networks lose viewers to
• 2009: Digital television arrives.
• First “Mom and Pop” System: E. L.
Parsons from Astoria Oregon placed an
antenna in a position where it could
receive a television signal from KRSC
(now KING-TV) in Seattle, Washington so
that he and his wife could watch high
school football games. When others
heard, word spread and Ed routed cable to
local gathering places for a fee of $125.
• Appliance store owners became the first
providers of CATV (Community Antenna
Television) by placing antennae on top of
their buildings and routing cable to local
community centers and businesses. In
Pennsylvania, Robert Tarlton started
Panther Valley CATV to bring a signal from
Philadelphia to Lansford. This was the
genesis of the local cable company.
• Much of early cable programming served
simply to carry the signal of the major
networks (NBC, CBS, ABC) into the
homes of small communities without
access to a strong signal.
• By the 1980s, cable stations began to
generate their own content. Some began
to create cable networks distributed
nationally via satellite. Some early
examples included:
– CNN (Cable News Network)
– ESPN (Entertainment and Sports Network)
– C-SPAN (Cable Satellite Public Affairs
• Ted Turner pioneered cable advertising by
re-broadcasting signals from his Atlanta
television station (WTBS) nationally and
exposing his sponsors to a national
audience. WTBS became the first
• Between government regulation (the “finsyn” rules) of the “big three” national
broadcast networks (CBS, NBC, ABC) and
the rise of numerous cable networks, “the
big three” began to experience a steep
decline in viewers.
• As a result of these conditions and the
Telecommunications Act of 1996, a wave of
mergers and buy-outs took place resulting in five
major media companies that account for the vast
majority of not only television content, but all
other media forms as well. These are:
News Corp.
Time Warner
NBC Universal
• As opposed to film, with it’s mechanical
progression of projected images, television
produces motion pictures through a
Cathode Ray: a focused beam of energy
from the electrode inside a vacuum tube
that projects lines of pixels (points of light)
on the far end of the tube. The following
two slides provide an illustration of this.
• The televised image is reproduced through
a process known as scanning. Scanning
breaks down an image into lines of pixels
that can be transferred into energy and
transmitted across distances.
• Television signal information, including
luminance (brightness) and chrominance
(red, green, or blue) is carried through
electromagnetic waves to receivers on AM
radio waves. Sound is transmitted through
FM waves.
• New methods for reproducing the
television image include:
– LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)
– Plasma
– DLP (Digital Light Processing)
• In addition to these new display
technologies, high definition television
(HDTV) has vastly improved the quality of
the television signal by doubling the level
of resolution.
The Future
• The future of television will likely be guided
by two principles:
– Convergence: The way we use television
may become almost indistinguishable from
the internet and web-casting may ultimately
replace broadcasting.
– Interactivity: Television content will respond in
real time to the input of the viewer.
• Affiliates: Independently owned stations
that broadcast network content.
• O & Os: Stations that are owned and
operated by the network itself.
• Ratings: Services that gauge the number
of viewers that are watching a particular
• Syndication: The practice of renting
content between stations.
• Must Carry: Law requiring that cable
stations provide local broadcast signals.
• Superstation: A local station with national
distribution via satellite.
• Narrowcasting: The cable television
practice of offering specialized content to a
specific TV audience (e.g. The Food
• Multiple System Carriers: Cable
companies that have locations in multiple
areas (e.g. Comcast and Cablevision).
• Direct Broadcast Satellite: Pulling satellite
signals directly from their source (rather
than through the cable company).
• Scanning: Composing a television image
from lines of resolution.
• Public Access TV: Cable station service that
provides resources for ordinary citizens to create
TV content.
• Horizontal Integration: Concentration of
ownership through the acquisition of multiple
competing companies.
• Vertical Integration: Concentration of ownership
through acquisition of all related businesses
(e.g. film production, distribution, exhibition)