Week #9 – Television

Week #9  – Television

Did you miss last week’s post? Go here <–

Class session recording from 11/2/22:

https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/A8ZwoL91EQSKVlaSf5_c_NIcGz_pLn-ravbvKqnlCRGemkdx8oUDhZFlNh_MMKXW.U57PMnMLL3gVONzh

Passcode: 0p@4Va2S

 

A Few Important Due Dates to Watch:

  1. Final Term Paper Bibliography / Sources – due ASAP– if you need more time please be in touch and let me know when I can expect to receive it.
  2. Mid-Semester Assessment Reflection – due between 10/26 – 11/7 (details are below)
  3.  Final Term Paper Draft due (3-4 pages) – due between 11/16 – 11/23

 

Class Discussion: Television aka TV

What is “Television” today?

WHAT ARE YOU WATCHING NOW? And Why?

Reality TV
Sit-Com
Mini-Series / Drama
News and Information
Talk
Music
Sports

The “History” of Television – as per various resources on the Web:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_television

https://www.britannica.com/technology/television-technology

http://www.television-history.net/television-origin/television-timeline/

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/bigdream-tv-milestones/

The Public Broadcasting Service [www.pbs.org] has come under attack in Washington, especially from conservative politicians. They want to reduce or eliminate the subsidies that PBS gets from the federal government. Do you believe the government should continue to fund PBS. What does PBS offer that commercial television does not?

Let’s compare programming on a broadcast television station, a cable network, and a “pay-per-view” platform in a comparable time period. How does the programming of these “channels / stations” differ? What may account for these differences?

The Museum of the Moving Image (Great Museum to Visit in Queens, NYC!!)

Let’s watch the video below:

On May 9, 1961 — then Head of the FCC, Newton Minow, gave his first major speech, declaring U.S. television programming a “vast wasteland,” because he saw the missed opportunities of what TV could offer. The phrase helped lead to the genesis of PBS.

Minow speaks to PBS News Hour’s Judy Woodruff to discuss the legacy of that speech.

Assignment: Respond in the comments section below ->

  1. What do you think about Minow’s “wasteland” comment? Do you still think it holds true?
  2. Broadcast television is created to serve the public interests? Do you think our television industry is too profit-driven? How do we balance television’s public mission and commercial interest? Is PBS the answer?
  3. If you can change the television landscape, what would you do? What would you like to change? Will public TV survive?

Please write a 200 – 350-word response and post it into the comments section below, preferably by our next class time. You will also need to comment on one of your classmates’ responses by the following week as well. Engage!

(***I strongly suggest that you generate your response(s) using a word processing application like ms word, pages or notes first, make the necessary spelling and grammatical corrections and then copy and paste your work into the comments section below***)

TELEVISION

(derived from CHAPTER 8)

TELEVISION IS BORN
“Radio with pictures”: 1920s and ’30s
TV flourishes after World War II
Milton Berle was first big TV star (Texaco Star Theater on NBC)
FCC freeze on new channels: 1948-52
Cable TV systems emerge (for small towns and cities without stations)
1952 FCC rules
Expand VHF band (Very high frequency)
Open UHF band (Ultra-high frequency)
Set aside channels for educational broadcasting
Most cities: Three VHF channels (thus three networks: ABC, CBS, NBC)
Radio pioneers, advertising shift to TV
Movie attendance dropped … a lot

THE GOLDEN AGE
Late 1940s and early ’50s
Drama anthologies
Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone
News and public affairs
Meet the Press (1947 to present on NBC, more than 17000 episodes)

INTO THE WASTELAND
By 1956: TVs were in 2/3 of American homes and 95% were affiliates of the Big Three.
Broader audience didn’t appreciate highbrow drama anthologies as well-educated East Coast early adopters
Sit-Coms: “I Love Lucy” became a big hit in 1951
Quiz shows
More focus on ratings than quality
TV turns to Hollywood for production (Disney)
Concerns about impact on culture, children
FCC’s Newton Minow calls TV “vast wasteland” at NAB
Still, some golden moments
Kennedy-Nixon debates
JFK funeral
Vietnam
Moon landing
“All in the Family”
“The Mary Tyler Moore Show”
“Roots”

TV GOES TO WASHINGTON
Big Three oligopoly broken
FCC’s Financial Interest in Syndication Rules (Fin-Syn): no network content from 7-8pm
Prime Time Access Rule (1970-1996)
Limits on in-house entertainment programming (1975)
Rise of UHF independent stations (rely on re-runs, sports and old movies)
FCC’s Sixth Report and Order (1952)
Noncommercial alternatives
KUHT in Houston (1953)
Public Broadcasting Act (1967) – established CPB
PBS created in 1969
Concerns about violence
Family Viewing Hour (8-9pm)
Ruled unconstitutional (The First Amendment)

RISE OF CABLE
Cable operators relay distant broadcasts to small towns ->> Threat to UHF stations
FCC bans cable from100 largest markets in 1966 and the “must carry” rule
FCC reverses ban in 1972
HBO: first pay TV network (1972)
Muhammad Ali- Joe Frazier boxing (1975)
Basic cable channels featured local channels, distant signals (WTBS)
Multiple cable system operators contended for top 100 cities
Critics: “Fifty channels and nothing on”
Cable expands “wasteland” with formulaic programming
Free of indecency rules, cable programming featured nudity, profanity

BIG THREE IN DECLINE
VCRs appear in 1975
New owners slashed staff in 1980s
Cable TV expands
Ownership limits relaxed (up from 7 to 12)
Debut of Fox TV, WB, UPN/CW, Univision
Fin-Syn rules lifted
1992 Cable Act & satellite TV
Direct TV and Dish Network

TV IN THE INFORMATION AGE
Telecommunication Act of 1996: Further relaxed media ownership rules and triggered a merger binge (Media conglomeration)
TV radically transformed from I Love Lucy days
Technology, audience behavior, economics
DVRs
Netflix, Amazon, Hulu
Internet-connected TVs

TECHNOLOGY TRENDS
(National Television System Committee (NTSC): Technical standards for analog television in the U.S.
Digital TV: June 2009
HDTV (16:9 aspect ratio)
Streaming video – YouTube, Google ChromeCast

VIDEO RECORDING
VCR: Video Cassette Recorder
DVDs: compressed digitized video
2008: Blu-ray vs. HD DVD format
Winner: Blu-ray
TiVo and other DVRs (Digital Video Recorder)
Next for home recording:
Its demise?
Video on demand

WHO RUNS THE SHOW?
Ownership of conglomerates – Viacom, Time Warner, Disney, News Corp, NBC Universal –shifted
Comcast bought NBCUniversal (2011)
Viacom, News Corp. split media holdings
Most local stations under group ownership
Entertainment, network news, local news, sports
National TV distributors
CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, CW, MyNetworkTV, Ion, Univision, etc.
Local TV distributors
About 1,400 stations in U.S., many under group owners
Affiliates and independents
Noncommercial stations – more than 250, many affiliated with PBS
Advertisers

GENRES: WHAT’S ON TV?
Broadcast network shows
Most appeal to 18- to 49-year-olds
Cable TV
Narrowcasting
PBS
“Highbrow” programming
Programming strategies
Disrupted by new viewing methods
Is TV programming diverse? (Hint: not really)

THE NEW TV HEGEMONY
Horizontal integration
Capitalist system promotes “bigness,” “sameness”
How to diversify TV?
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)
Media Research Center

Fairness Doctrine (struck down in 2000 because it is unconstitutional)
Equal time rule (still in force): A station which sells or gives one minute to Candidate A must sell or give the same amount of time with the same audience potential to all other candidates. However, a candidate who can not afford time does not receive free time unless his or her opponent is also given free time.

AND FINALLY…
Time to cut the cord?
Cable companies: high prices, bad service
Is TV decent?
FCC complaints languish for years
Help from the ACLU?
Children and TV
Children’s TV Act of 1990 requires three hours of children’s programming a week between 7am to 10pm. It has to be regularly scheduled and at least 30 minutes.

36 thoughts on “Week #9 – Television”

  1. Nothing, even the theater, magazines, or newspapers, is better when television is good. Nevertheless, nothing is worse than bad television. I concur with Minow’s observation that television at the time was a wilderness. Television, in my opinion, is both more varied and enlightening than it has ever been and also a sewer of brand-new, poisonous garbage. Commercials are being added by media businesses in greater numbers than previously. Because of that, they are losing viewers. The length of the episodes, in the opinion of everyone, was far too short, and the commercial breaks were never enjoyable. As TV viewing drops, more people are turning to streaming services like Netflix and Prime. The television business is undoubtedly profit-driven as that is how they are compensated to broadcast programming, and the more series, movies, and advertising they produce, the more money they make. I believe that federal funding should go into initiatives where a group of well-educated intellectuals attempt to dictate to the general populace how and what to think. Television firms must first develop and strengthen a customer-first mentality as a key strategic step. Even though it seems clear, many of the largest broadcasters and production firms have grown and thrived without giving any thought to the requirements or preferences of their audience beyond the material they provide.

    1. Well said! I feel that energy as well! At some point, when a company’s mission becomes purely obviously driven by greed with a lack of user / customer / human centrics… revolution is inevitable!

  2. I think Minow’s comments of television being a wasteland was true back then. There weren’t many programs that seemed entertain for children or adults. However as time went on it grew to cater to everyone of all ages. I think his comment does not hold true anymore today. There are just too many programs that can be entertainment for many people. There are educational channels, music, channels, and sport channels. Television has grown to cater to every genre of TV and movie anyone could think of watching. It does become repetitive when shows use the same skits or storylines. But as long as there is an interesting twist or characters, the story can hold the viewer.

    I think Broadcast cast television is profit driven, because there are just too many shows being made at once. There is promotion for them everywhere. Even with all the press these shows don’t even last past one season. They are canceled because the reviews sink the show. TV shows are like a shiny project every year there has to be at least 20 new shows which will star a new or famous actor or an important Director makes a documentary. To be honest I do not think I would know how to balance tv’s interest. I guess the public to push for more educational or creative shows to boost brain activity.

    If I could change Tv landscape I would push for more fantasy or sci-fi stuff. Todays TV lacks the budget when making fantasy scenes such as magic, It looks fake. I would want higher budgets for shows so writers, actors and others made correct pay for their work. TV has to survive because if not everyone would become massively bored. They need their daily news or entertainment.

    1. Thank you! There is so much more variety today, but the revenue driven greed still hold the reigns… I can help but think of a better that this can be done, how can the conglomerates not give more back at this point…

    2. Juan, I agree that television and programs are profit-driven, as we watch programs and movies every few minutes, we are forced to watch 30 to 40-second commercials. That’s what I noticed how now you can take a picture of a QR reader, and it will take it straight to the website of the item that is being advertised.

  3. I agree with Minow’s comment about how a lot of television was a waste of technology in terms of what was being produced. I remember as a kid I’d have to wake up super early in the morning to watch my PBS shows like Martha Speaks, The Ruff Ruffman Show, Sid the Science Kid and so much more since it was only offered that time of day for me. I remember I always wanted to watch them later in the day but because my family couldn’t afford the cable package with it, I didn’t have the option. Specifically with childhood education shows, I feel like they should be offered free of costs as it’s important for the upcoming generations of the world can have these shows to stimulate their brains and even help with their language skills. I definitely believe that television is too profit driven. Most television shows that are reported “30-45” minutes long were actually 15-30 minutes with the use of commercials boosting their times up. I’d always feel like episodes were way too short and the commercials were always a drag to watch through. Especially now with Netflix and other streaming services producing content that are full length episodes with little to no ads. I’m not an avid user of cable TV nor have I used it for a very long time so I’m not sure what the technology of it is up to. However I do feel cable and public television in order to survive should provide the technology to be able to go back and watch broadcasts and episodes/movies they’ve aired. I know the whole concept of recording and saving a show is available but not everyone has the memory to go back and make sure it’s set.

    1. I understand I also did not have cable. I really liked pbs kids for watching the electric company, arthur or cyberchase. I agree there should be free all round child education entertainment.

    2. Great points! Thank you for the reflection too, I so agree, we need much more free programming for kids! Not programming cut short by paid ads that train us otherwise.. the mega media conglomerates can easily fund things like this, but just dont and its sad! I wonder how this all plays out into the future.. will there be something that can help educate kids and shape their minds positively with out using ads as a means of revenue..

    3. Hi Dhali, I agree with your thought, more advertisements are being inserted by media companies than ever before. They are shedding viewers as a result of it and the episodes were way too short, and the commercial breaks were never really entertaining.

  4. Television can be utilized for amusement, data, and schooling. Television is what an individual consumes and has a significant impact in affecting individuals. This could be from sitcoms, as certain individuals might have most loved characters and most loved messages from amusement demonstrates the way that they can actually connect with them. Television is a type of correspondence and it ought to be viewed in a serious way since it can vigorously affect crowd individuals and individuals accept everything on what the channels say. To adjust TV’s public mission and business intrigues the two of them need to remain closely connected. Where the plugs are intriguing and handle watchers’ consideration or even instruct them not different points and news. Assuming that I had the ability to change the TV scene, I would make it more family-accommodating. I’d promote more of the news, kid’s shows, and family channels. I’d likewise add more instructive networks such as PBS children to help the more youthful youngsters learn and assist them with being useful while staring at the television.

    1. Thank you! I agree, we need more instructional programming, not only for the youth but for people of all ages – creativity and inspiration propels us into action! 🙂

  5. In today’s world television is a system that is used to transport visual images and make them come alive. Television can be used for entertainment, information, and education. Television is what a person consumes and plays a major part in influencing people. This could be from sitcoms, as some people may have favorite characters and favorite messages from entertainment shows that they can personally relate to. Television is a form of communication and it should be taken seriously because it can heavily impact its audience members and the people who believe everything on what the channels say. The television world also distributes the news and from the news we can see what type of things are going on in today’s world and we could also easily be swayed. I would personally say to be extremely careful with what you consume and always think for yourself. What I would say that interests me in watching television as of right now is sports such as basketball because it brings me a form of entertainment and relaxation that I can get to watch as a reward after classes and tests.

    1. Yes indeed! We need to be very aware of what we consume, and how to avoid falling into the trap of not questioning those incoming daily impressions~! Not easy as we can become numb to it… yikes

    2. Excellent! Sports! I always enjoying pivoting from pro seasons, baseball ends, Basketball and hockey begins – NFL in full swing – all good, especially to unwind!

    3. Hey Ray,

      I definitely agree with you to be careful what you consume with television as it is 100% true, it’s so easy to get led in a different direction. Just the case with children with any form of video streaming and television where they can be watching Sesame Street one second and flip to a crime show the next. Television is such a platform that needs to be monitored very closely for the consumer base. Thank you for sharing

    4. Hey Ray,
      I agree with being careful with what is on television. today people get swayed because of a show and become different. Just the case with children who can become angry when watching action or violence on tv.

  6. Minow’s “wasteland” comment has validity because we see the impact of how commercials have predominately controlled tv. Minow realized early on that there was a missed opportunity with the content being displayed on television. Instead of producing more content that could teach we see how much they want to create more consumerism by way of commercials. Personally, I do think television is too profit-driven because if you look at the run time for most shows, commercials take up a quarter of the time. I honestly can’t sit through a whole television show because I feel like I’m watching more commercials than the actual show. PBS has been the answer for a long time but with there being so many streaming services as well as apps anyone can find the content they want. I do believe public tv will survive because there will always be a market for it. If I could change anything I would promote it more because you have to compete with the rest of the ways people consume television and overall media today.

    1. Hey Marshall,

      I do see what you are saying about the importance of television but I don’t really think it’ll last that long. The whole industry of streaming services and live videos on YouTube, I don’t think it can survive that fully. Most people rather pay a smaller fee for a streaming service than the whole cost of a package with cable television. But, it can honestly go both ways. Thank you for sharing.

  7. I, to some extent, agree with Minow’s comment about television at the time being a wasteland. On one hand, I believe that television is more enriching and diverse than it has ever been but also a cesspool of new kinds of toxic filth.

    A few examples that come to mind are TLC and the History Channel. TLC was an acronym for The Learning Channel, co-created by NASA in the ’70s. Now TLC is less like ‘The Learning Channel’ and more like ‘Televised Live Circus’ reducing people to caricatures, little more than animals at the zoo for people to watch. They’re profiting off of obesity, depression, child abuse, and more with shows like “My 600 Pound Life”, “My Strange Addiction”, “Dance Moms”, and “Toddlers and Tiaras” which are, at worst, borderline illegal and morally bankrupt.

    History Channel on the other hand has been peddling outlandish conspiracy theories through shows like “Ancient Aliens” which rewrites human history. At best, it’s goofy silly fun, and at worse it’s insulting and dangerous. Often time, it is dismissive of the people in ancient societies especially non-European societies, reducing them to dumb children dependent on alien intervention.

    Our television industry, like all industries, has become profit-driven without a doubt. Finding a balance is quite difficult because it would require investors and business people to invest in projects and channels like PBS which may or may not turn a profit. One of the core reasons why television is so profit-driven is to please investors and make sure they get back more money. In an ideal world, I think Television would be more diverse, riskier, and more challenging to viewers. Content that is not afraid to push boundaries and break ground while also providing us knowledge and things to ponder. Public Television may not be able to survive for too long. I feel like PBS is being viewed by a lot of older individuals and that core audience is the one who donates the most to PBS.

    1. Such good points! And so well said!
      At what point did the FCC even allow the industry to begin to profit and commoditize serious health issues… its infuriating and very sad.

    2. I agree that our television industry is another drive at profit and seeing how much money can they captilize on as soon as possible. I also like the comment you made about PBS and how the older audience is viewing it because it shows that people will take the time to learn and uphold these types of television channels

  8. I think that Minow’s “wasteland” comment can be perceived as both a pro and a con. There are certain shows and even ads that are just not “public tv” material. When I think of the word television; information, news, cartoon, and broadcast come to mind. In my opinion, he was criticizing the younger generation for sitting around all day, watching television but watching nothing educational or relevant to them. He also mentions that television became a very dangerous, scary period because viewers and broadcasting members used the information/facts they received and turned them into opinions. I think his comment holds true for the most part, tv today is still a place where false information is shared. Broadcast television is created to lean mostly toward informing the public rather than serving the public. The news channels do however provide some services especially when there are natural disasters present. The television industry is definitely profit-driven because that’s how they get paid to broadcast shows and the more shows, movies, and commercials the more their pockets are full. I think in order to balance television’s public mission and commercial interests they both have to go hand in hand. Where the commercials are interesting and grasp viewers’ attention or even educate them not other topics and news. If I had the power to change the television landscape, I would make it more family-friendly. I’d keep the news, cartoons, and family channels. I’d also add more educational networks like PBS kids to help the younger children learn and help them to be productive while watching tv. I think the only reason why public tv is still a thing today is because of the news channels and live sports channels because most people today use other seaming apps and devices to watch movies, shows, documentaries, etc.

      1. Hi Ethan, great response, this line from your response “History Channel on the other hand has been peddling outlandish conspiracy theories through shows like “Ancient Aliens” which rewrites human history. At best, it’s goofy silly fun, and at worse it’s insulting and dangerous. Often time, it is dismissive of the people in ancient societies especially non-European societies, reducing them to dumb children dependent on alien intervention.” It’s a great example of explaining to the audience how much of a “wasteland” television can be. Also, great question! And to be honest I do think his comment affected the older generation because back then the sources of entertainment were very minimal. I think television back then was more “real” than it is today. Today, everything we see on tv is more for entertainment, sales, and promotion purposes. Whereas, tv back then showed more of news and movies.

    1. Ah yes! Such good points! And all is certainly in a flux state about where it will all go. Let’s hope that young minds are kept at the top of the list for helping with educational content. It can be both fun and entertaining to learn!

    2. Hi Sarah,
      I forgot to add how television has made facts and opinions very confusing. I agree with having more educational content to have more diversity while watching television. To be honest, I find what I am looking for online via streaming services. If you know what you’re looking for then you will be able to find it online. Hopefully, as time moves on, there is more of a balance with broadcasting.

      1. I agree with Marshall’s statements about streaming services being the future. I also think a thing to consider is that these platforms are dependent on watch time and usage since many people subscribe to streaming services only then stop using them and unsub after they watched one or two shows that they liked. So these streaming services often recommend and suggest content tailored to your liking. Could this contribute to making educational content hard to find?

        1. Streaming is here to stay for now, for sure – but as we know, it will get faster and faster – advertising is a driving force in its revenue sustainability too, so hmmmm, how this all evolves is a going to be interesting!

    3. I agree with adding more channels to help kids develop their mind and learn as much things as possible. I think that would be a great idea.

    4. Tv is meant to be enjoyed and not to be a pawn. I cannot believe people would want to misinform the public to trick them and gain their favor. It is for children to enjoy watching cartoons and adults to watch whatever is good for them.

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