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section heading icon     television

This page looks at television broadcasting as background to considering the internet.

It covers -

The media page in the separate Economy guide considers the industry. The site provides detailed profiles on around 300 media groups.

     the shape of the revolutions

For Mitchell Stephens, author of The rise of the image the fall of the word (New York: Oxford Uni Press 1998) "video remains the communications revolution of our time", one that was seized by consumers and business at a quicker rate than the web.

Neil Harris' Cultural Excursions: Marketing Appetites & Cultural Tastes in Modern America (Chicago: Uni of Chicago Press 1990) notes that 1% of US homes had colour television in 1961 when NBC first broadcast all its programs in colour. By 1963, 60 million homes had tv; only 1.2 million had colour sets, rising to 33% in 1969. Thirty years later 98% of US households (94% of Australian) have colour televisions, more than have fixed-line phones.

Raymond Williams' Television: Technology & Cultural Form (New York: Schocken 1975), Lynn Spigel's Make Room for TV: Television & the Family Ideal in Postwar America (Chicago: Uni of Chicago Press 1992) complements Erik Barnouw's multi-volume A History of Broadcasting in the United States (New York: Oxford Uni Press 1966-70), Asa Briggs' The History of Broadcasting in the United Kingdom (Oxford: Oxford Uni Press 1961-79) and the crisp Television in the Antenna Age (Oxford: Nlackwell 2004) by David Marc & Robert Thompson. For Australia see Ken Inglis' This is the ABC (Melbourne: Melbourne Uni Press 1984).

Barnouw's Tube of Plenty: The Evolution of American Television (New York: Oxford Uni Press 1975) focuses on the development of television; we recommend David Fisher's Tube: The Invention of Television (Washington: Counterpoint 1996) instead. Anthony Smith edited the crisp Television: An International History (Oxford: Oxford Uni Press 1995).


James Baughman's The Republic of Mass Culture: Journalism, Filmmaking & Broadcasting in America since 1941 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Uni Press 1992) is a thoughtful study of broadcasting's relationship with film and print media.

Television quickly proved the most popular of the public arts. Americans who had once spent their evenings using a variety of mass media - films, newspapers, periodicals, and radio - were likely by the mid and late 1950s to watch television. People still went to the movie house, read a daily paper or a magazine, and listened to a radio program, but the amount of time they devoted to each activity declined, in some cases dramatically.

Baughman's Television's Guardians: The FCC & the Politics of Programming, 1958-1967 (Knoxville: Uni of Tennessee Press 1985) is a perceptive study of US content regulation.

For television as a model for perceptions of the web as a sewer that destroys culture, commerce and community consult William Boddy's Fifties Television: The Industry & Its Critics (Urbana: Uni of Illinois Press 1999), Karal Marling's As seen on TV - The Visual Culture of Everyday Life in the 1950s (Cambridge: Harvard Uni Press 1994), Gerard Jones' Honey I'm Home! Sitcoms: Selling the American Dream (New York: Grove 1992) and Dancing in the Distraction Factory: Music Television & Popular Culture (Minneapolis: Uni of Minnesota Press 1992) by Andrew Goodwin.

Jeffrey Sconce's Haunted Media: Electronic Presence from Telegraphy to Television (Durham: Duke Uni Press 2000) explores the box as a device onto which we project our darkest fears.

For politics, local and national, consult Satellite Broadcasting: The Politics & Implications of the New Media (London: Routledge 1988) edited by Ralph Negrine and The V-Chip Debate: Content Filtering from Television to the Internet (Mahwah: Erlbaum 1998) edited by Monroe Price, valuable in understanding wars over boundaries and internet content filtering systems. Television censorship is discussed in more detail here. Anxieties about 'television addiction' are discussed here.

Among landmark studies of the 'tube of plenty' as a mechanism for social good and model for the web consider the report of the Sloan Commission on Cable Communications in On the Cable: The Television of Abundance (New York: McGraw-Hill 1971).

Cable technology, in concert with other allied technologies, seems to promise a communications revolution.... Citizens may still take a hand in shaping cable television's growth and institutions in a fashion that will bend it to society's will and society's best intentions.... If cable technology proves indeed to be the heart of a communications revolution, its impact upon society's most immediate needs might be enormous.

Ralph Smith's The Wired Nation: Cable TV: The Electronic Communications Highway (New York: Harper 1972) was more realistic: 500 channels (many of them on what's now AOL) but most showing what critics characterised as the SOS.

subsection heading icon     the many deaths of television?

For accounts of the fall of electronic 'old media' view Fred MacDonald's One Nation Under Television: The Rise & Decline of Network TV (New York: Pantheon 1990), Kevin Maney's Megamedia Shakeout: The Inside Story on the Leaders & Losers in the Exploding Communications Industry (New York: Wiley 1995) and Ken Auletta's Three Blind Mice: How The Television Networks Lost Their Way (New York: Random House 1991), offset by Amanda Lotz' incisive The Television Will Be Revolutionized (New York: New York Uni Press 2007).

For home recording, of interest as a precursor to companies such as Napster, see Gladys & Oswald Ganley's Global Political Fallout: The First Decade of the VCR 1976-1985 (Cambridge: Center for Information Policy Research 1987) and works highlighted here.

Joel Brinkley's Defining Vision: The Battle for the Future of Television (New York: Harcourt Brace 1997) explored the High Definition TV revolution, one that never occurred. Expect more of the same with Australia's digital tv regime in the next three years.

Ellen Seiter's Television & New Media Audiences (New York: Oxford Uni Press 1999) is suggestive.

subsection heading icon    pathologies and panics

Notions of 'television addiction' are discussed here. Broadcast censorship is explored here.

Among works on genres see Prime Time Animation: Television Animation and American Culture (New York: Routledge 2003) edited by Carol Stabile & Mark Harrison.

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