Week #9 – Television
Did you miss last week’s post? Go here <–
Class session recording from 11/2/22:
A Few Important Due Dates to Watch:
- 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.
- Mid-Semester Assessment Reflection – due between 10/26 – 11/7 (details are below)
- 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?
Mini-Series / Drama
News and Information
The “History” of Television – as per various resources on the Web:
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 ->
- What do you think about Minow’s “wasteland” comment? Do you still think it holds true?
- 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?
- 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***)
(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
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
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
“All in the Family”
“The Mary Tyler Moore Show”
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)
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
Netflix, Amazon, Hulu
(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
VCR: Video Cassette Recorder
DVDs: compressed digitized video
2008: Blu-ray vs. HD DVD format
TiVo and other DVRs (Digital Video Recorder)
Next for home recording:
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
GENRES: WHAT’S ON TV?
Broadcast network shows
Most appeal to 18- to 49-year-olds
Disrupted by new viewing methods
Is TV programming diverse? (Hint: not really)
THE NEW TV HEGEMONY
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.
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.