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Chapter 8

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FILM 2401
Kispal- Kovacs Kovacs

Chapter8- The RiseofBroadcastTelevision (1946-1959)  Television took longer than film to develop due to technological hurdles that had to be overcome.  Television was closely connected to the radio industry from which it sprang. Broadcast television wasnotsuccessfullydemonstrateduntilthe1930’s.  WWII put a hold on any immediate development of the medium. Many engineers working for themajorequipmentmanufacturerswere expectedtousetheir expertise in thewar effort.  Post WWII era of the late 1940’s and early 1950’s was period in which consumerism reallytook off.The riseoftelevision andtherise ofconsumerismwereintertwined.  Debate about whether television, like radio, would become a medium for entertainmentor an educationaltool.  Institutionswith considerable financial resources carried out the setting up of anational systemfor broadcast(itwasprohibitivelyexpensive proposition). Television Considerations  2 major industry groupings, RCA-NBC & CBS, had developed television systems that operated in a different range of frequencies. RCA-NBC pushed for the adoption of black and white broadcasting in VHF (Very High Frequency) band of frequencies while CBS wantedtoestablishcolor broadcasting in the UHF(Ultra High Frequency) band.  Mid 1940’s, the FCC ruled in favor of the VHS band and thereby ensured RCA-NBC’s early domination of the television industry. Consequence of this adoption was the restriction on the number of television stations that could operate in a given geographical area, thereby reinforcing the oligopolistic character of the early television industry.  Limited number of broadcasting frequencies in the VHF band was hindering the development of television and limiting the growth of the number of television stations. Another problem was included interference caused by placing television station frequencies too close together. For this reason FCC froze the issuing of new licenses to television broadcastersfrom1948to1952sothat this problemcouldbe resolved.  Once the freeze was removed, new licenses were issued to stations operating both the VHF and UHF bands. By the 1950’s, television manufacturers began making TV receiversthat couldcapture signalson bothbands.  Another technical limitation of early TV was the fact that most shows were done live. Only other option before the invention of videotape (in 1956) was filming programs for broadcast,butthiswasnotdone frequentlybecause ofthehigher costsinvolved. Political Considerations  Proponentsofnon-profitandeducationalbroadcasting sufferedin 1934 andtook along time to overcome. This defeat happened when Congress rejected the Wagner-Hatfield Bill, which would have set aside 25% of broadcast frequencies for non-profit (educationalandreligious)broadcasting. EconomicConsiderations  National broadcasting system was a very expensive proposition. Establishment of television in most other countries became an endeavor of the state; governments established the first national television networks. A good example is England where the BBC began broadcasting television on an experimental basis as early as 1932. US did notfollow theexample ofother countries.  There was a strong lobby on the part of a few radio conglomerates and related business that held out for a private broadcast system that stressed entertainment over education. They wanted no interference from government as they pursued a system that would be financed by commercial advertising rather than by government based taxation orlicensing fees.  As a result, the financing of the development of broadcast television in the US was undertaken by the commercial radio networks already established. This was done primarily by RCA and its subsidiary NBC, as well as by CBS. These companies had alreadyestablishedan oligopolisticstructurein radiosimilartotheone foundin thefilm industry at the time, and they were successful in preventing the widespread developmentofpublic,education-orientedtelevisionbroadcasting untilthe1960’s.  Television, as these people saw it, was like a radio, a means of selling products with some entertainmentthrown in tofilloutthetime between ads. RapidGrowth  1947- 60,000TVsetsin theentirecountry,2/3ofthemin NYCity.  September 1947- 3,000 of the 47,000 sets in NYC were operating in bars; the rest were located in home of high-income families; however, because the TV sets in bars attracted many moreviewers per setthan those in private homes, the overall audiences were roughlyequal.  Early television programming was produced based on what the industry thought these two groups would like to watch: sports and news programming for the bar crowd and seriousdramaticprogramsfor theaffluentNew Yorkers
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