As early as 1907, the Scientific American magazine used the word television to describe the transmission of moving pictures. Scottish inventor John L. Baird first telecasted an object in motion in England, 1926. On May 11, 1928, General Electric began the first regular broadcast station, WGY, in Schenectady, New York. These milestones paved the way for the coming television revolution. The high cost of the technology prevented the television from becoming widespread until the Fifties.
On D-Day, June 6, 1944, the Allies stormed Normandy coast of France, beginning the liberation of Europe from the Axis Powers. Just approximately 23 hours later, London's news chief at Blue Network (later to become ABC), George Hicks broadcasted footage of the invasion over television. He had recorded the film with a portable Navy camera from the ship S.S. Ancon, 8 miles of the coast. Before then, there had been no televised coverage of the war for security reasons. Hailed as a great success, pre-recorded films of "live events" such as Hicks' would help media move into the age of the television.
The television had been introduced to the public at the 1939 New York World's Fair. Some of the earlier programs shown included a televised broadcast of the Geneva Conventions and a 90-minute documentary on reactions to the bombing of Pearl Harbour in 1941. World War II temporarily halted the television's development; in 1942, the manufacturing of receivers and television broadcasts were stopped. Community Antenna Television, CATV, was started in 1948 in America, with most television stations in large cities like New York. There were roughly one million televison sets by 1948. On television, there were comedy sketches, music, and news and commentaries, all in black and white. Only in 1953, was a colour system developed by RCA (Radio Corporation of America) approved by the Federal Communications Commission in the USA.
Cross-Media Ownership Of Newspapers, Radio and Television
In the early Forties, a public debate over cross-media ownership arose. By 1941, 30% of AM radio stations were owned by newspapers, while 28 of the first 60 television licenses were applied for by newspapers. As newspaper sales declined due to increased competition, publishers could profit from radio instead. Some argued that cross-media ownership prevented a good mix of opinions to be expressed because media conglomerates could own newspapers, radio and television stations, standardizing news and views between them. In 1949, a ruling known as the Fairness Doctrine, gave broadcasters the responsibilty of being fair and offering opposing views as well in their news coverage.
Television was poised to dominate the media industry in 1950. There were 3.1 million television sets in American homes, and over 100 television stations operating in 38 states across the USA. Apart from being known as "The Golden Age of Television", the Fifties were also remembered as the Cold War, when fear of nuclear destruction and takeover by the Communist was strong. Cinema, radio and print media was to compete with television that seemed to give the best of both worlds: pictures and sound. With the advent of television in the 1950s, print media, radio and film were forced to rethink their approaches towards news and entertainment.
Television fitted well into the home, as a simpler, cheaper, and more convenient family leisure activity. Popular sitcoms became a part of television fare. Programs like I Love Lucy, Father Knows Best, Our Miss Brooks and Burns and Allen, enjoyed long runs. Live performances continued to dominate television programming through the mid-1950s, but broadcasters soon realized the efficiency of filming programs for later broadcast. Film was the primary recording method until the early 1960s, when the video tape became more widespread.
NBC first developed
television news in the 1940s, combining the dramatic visual images of newsreels
and announcer techniques of radio news. However in 1952-1953, while NBC encountered
financial difficulty and reduced its news programming, CBS expanded its news
operations. Television networks sought new anchors with star quality that would
attract a loyal audience. The host of CBS's first thirty minute public affair
documentary series named "See It Now", Edward
R Murrow, famous for his radio news broadcasts during World War II, and
with his deep voice and handsome features, was a good choice. From its debut
in November 18, 1951 to its last show in July 7, 1958, "See It Now" reported
news that was relevant, in a truthful and accurate manner. Veteran newsmen remember
the Edward R Murrow days as the Golden Age of Television News. By the mid-1950s,
television was firmly entrenched in the world of news and information as well
as election coverage.
Television's effect on politics, advertising and public perception continued to grow. In 1962, with the communications satellite Telstar I in space, followed by other satellites, news reports from around the world could be transmitted directly to a network broadcast center, giving television unprecendented power to communicate major world events real-time.
In 1963, CBS introduced a middle-aged wire-service reporter who commanded respect and trust from his television audience. On November 22, 1963, Walter Cronkite was the only anchor present to announce the assasination of President John F. Kennedy. Walter Cronkite anchored the half-hour news show, CBS Evening News, that held viewers for nearly twenty years, giving substance and credibility to television news. Each evening the Cronkite would sum up, "And that's the way it is," to give his report the feel of a true and objective account of the day's happenings. In a quest for facts, Cronkite personally went to Vietnam in 1965, and again in 1968 to cover the war. By 1967, all three networks, ABC, NBC and CBS had expanded the evening news from fifteen to thirty minutes. During the Cronkite years, television gained enormous credence as a news medium.
Quality educational programming for children began in 1969, with debut of Public Broadcasting System's Sesame Street, which still shows today. In the early 1970s, concern over the connections between children's television programs and advertising arose. It was found that 40 of the top 60 cereals, that were being advertised to children on television had little nutritional content. Action for Children's Television (ACT) forced a reduction in advertising during children's programming in 1970. They successful pressured the networks to limit the advertising of food products and toys on Saturday-morning cartoon programs.
There was explosive growth of the media in the 1980s, especially television. With rising costs of materials and labour, and with competition from 24-hour cable television news, many newspapers disappeared, leaving many towns with only one print voice to service them. Satellite television reported events across the world live. Cable news and subscription cable television also rose in popularity, competing with network television.
Cable television was a based on subscription, sending programs to subscribers via coaxial or fibre-optics cables instead of public air waves. Originally to reach areas where reception was poor or non-existent, it expanded in the 1970s and 1980s. Cable television marketed its services by offering additional programming not available on network television. In addition to the basic cable channels, viewers could pay for other premium channels, such a Disney Channel's movies and cartoons, and movie stations such as HBO (Home Box Office), Showtime and Playboy. There were exclusive pay-per-view sporting events, such as the $80 world heavy-weight championships in 1997. These led to pay-per-view movies, featuring a variety of movies fresh out of theaters and not yet out for rental. Cable and network television showed movies with more graphic content, adult language and violence to maintain their audiences. Home shopping channels were extremely successful, as viewers could order products advertised on television from their homes.
On June 1, 1980, Ted Turner introduced CNN (Cable News Network), which became a highly successful 24-hour news, reporting comprehensively on war and crises, such as the Iran hostage crisis and the Persian Gulf war (1991). In August 1981, MTV (Music TeleVision) emerged, offering rock-and-roll music videos, repeating about every 2 hours. New styles of photography, computer animation and videotape composing turned the music video into a new art form. Singer Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video, filled with outstanding dancers, videography and special effects, revolutionized the music video. MTV soon became a part of teenage culture.
approach to expanding television to the rural areas, was by satellite television.
Communications satellites in space could reflect signals from different locations
on Earth, to receivers or "dishes" on Earth. By the Eighties, a network of sophisticated
satellites was bringing news and entertainment from around the world to homes.
Talk shows were the new cultural phenomenon of the nineties. Part self-help, part advice, part pseudo-debate, they covered topics such as incest, family relationships and alcoholism. Consumers devoured them and talk show hosts like Oprah Winfrey and Phil Donahue became household names. "Infotainment" also became bigger, with shows like "Entertainment Tonight" offering bits of info to keep viewers watching.