Television and the power of visual culture
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Television and the power of visual culture

Television and the Power of Visual Culture

Chapter 5


Television and the power of visual culture

“…the creators of a current network sitcom, The Office, have broken new ground by revamping the show’s look and structure, shooting the program documentary style (like the original British version). The Office feels like a hybrid program, located somewhere between the more traditional comedy and a reality program.”


Television the good and the bad

Diverts

Entertains

Informs

1960s Civil Rights

Times of crisis

McCarthy hearings

Violence

Sexuality

Impact on kids

Impact on disturbed

Unimaginative

Television: The Good and the Bad


Television development

Television Development

  • Paul Nipkow

    • 1880s

    • Nipkow Disk

      • Broke pictures into light units that could be “sent” and decoded by a receiver

  • Zworykin and Farnsworth

    • Develop electronic broadcasting methods

    • Farnsworth makes distance broadcasting.

      • Beats RCA in ugly patent suit


Image quality

Image Quality

  • 1930s sees U.S. adopt NTSC.

    • Standardized set production

  • Other countries have higher-resolution scanning rates.

    • Results in better picture

  • These differences became obsolete with the arrival of all-digital broadcast and reception.


Digital television and converters

Digital Television and Converters

  • By 2009, rabbit ears and rooftop antennas will be rendered useless unless they are tethered to a digital converter.

  • The National Telecommunications and Information Administration helped consumers pay for new converters.

  • The digital signal provides a superior image compared with its analog predecessor.


Sponsors

Sponsors

  • In Golden Age (1950s) single-sponsor programs typical

    • Colgate Comedy Hour

    • Kraft

    • GE

  • Networks feared sponsor control.

    • Dispute over content, in particular

  • Enter Pat Weaver

    • Forced advertisers out by raising costs


Weaver s strategies

Weaver’s Strategies

  • Increased length of average program

  • Increased sponsor cost as a result

  • Used the “spectacular”

  • Used the magazine format

  • Used musical specials

  • Plus…


The quiz show scandals

Examples are $64,000 Question and Twenty-One.

Corporate sponsors encouraged rigging to

heighten drama and get rid of unappealing

guests.

Scandal ended sponsor’s role in creating

content

Undermined democratic possibilities of

television

Spawned contemporary cynicism

The Quiz-Show Scandals


The big three networks

The Big Three Networks

  • NBC

    • Meet the Press since 1947

    • Huntley-Brinkley in 1956

  • CBS

    • Walter Cronkite

    • First to use affiliates

    • 60 Minutes

    • Katie Couric hired in 2006

  • ABC

    • World News Tonight

  • Networks dominate until about 1980.


Tv comedy

TV Comedy

  • Sketch comedy

    • Your Show of Shows (1950–1954), Carol Burnett Show (1967–1979)

  • Situation comedy or sitcom

    • I Love Lucy, Seinfeld, 30 Rock

  • Domestic comedy

    • Will & Grace, The Office


Drama anthologies vs episodes

One time

Spectacular

Writers’ vehicle

Actor’s vehicle

Required more from an audience?

Associated with Golden Age of TV

More suited to weekly grind

Same characters week after week

Less creativity demanded with pre-fab characters

Cost-effective

Drama:Anthologies vs. Episodes


Law order criminal intent desperate housewives grey s anatomy lost 24 csi

Law & Order: Criminal Intent

Desperate Housewives

Grey’s Anatomy

Lost

24

CSI

Guess which format survives?


Television and the power of visual culture

Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 eventually creates PBS in 1969

Charged with creating “high quality” programs

Does it still serve a purpose?

Who will decide?

PBS


What breaks down network dominance

What breaks down network dominance?

  • Independents

    • Superstations

      • Ted Turner and WTBS

  • HBO

    • Satellite delivery

    • FCC comes to cable’s rescue in 1972.

  • VCR

    • Time shifting

  • DVRs (digital video recorders)

    • Users can record multiple programs at any time.

    • Will DVRs shatter our current notion of prime-time television?


Fcc temporarily restricts networks

FCC Temporarily Restricts Networks

  • Prime Time Access Rule (1970)

    • Reduced network control of prime time

    • Gave up 7:30–8 PM time slot

  • Led to rise of infotainment

    • Cheap celebrity and quiz shows

  • Fin-syn

    • End of extorting profits from old programs in syndication


Figure 5 1

Figure 5.1


What news corp owns

What News Corp. Owns

• British Sky Broadcasting

(38% stake, UK)

• SKY Italia

Radio

• Fox Sports Radio Network

• Classic FM

• Sky Radio Germany

Film

• 20th Century Fox

• Fox Searchlight Pictures

• Fox Television Studios

• Blue Sky Studios

Newspapers

• New York Post

• Wall Street Journal

• Ottaway Newspapers

(twenty-seven local papers)

• News International Limited

(UK)

• The Times (UK)

• News Limited (110

Australian newspapers)

Magazines

• The Weekly Standard

• TV Guide (2% stake)

• donna hay (Australia)

Books

• HarperCollins (US, UK,

Australia, New Zealand,

Canada, India)

• Zondervan

Online

• Fox Interactive Media

– IGN.com

– MySpace.com

– Scout.com

– RottenTomatoes.com

– MarketWatch (online

business news)

Television

• Fox Broadcasting Company

• Thirty-five television

stations (selected stations)

– KCOP (MyNetworkTV, Los

Angeles)

– KTTV (FOX, Los Angeles)

– KMSP (FOX, Minneapolis)

– WFTC (MyNetworkTV,

Minneapolis)

– WNYW (FOX, New York

City)

– WWOR (MyNetworkTV,

New York City)

DBS & Cable

• Fox Movie Channel

• Fox News Channel

• Fox Reality

• Fox Sports International

• Fox Sports Net

• FUEL TV

• FX

• SPEED

• National Geographic

Channel (67% stake)


The business end of tv

The Business End of TV

  • Deficit financing

  • Network-produced programming

    • Reality TV

    • Low quality, high profit

    • Newsmagazines

  • Syndication and reruns

    • Evergreens


On the fringe

On the Fringe

  • Fringe time

    • Just before prime time

    • Off-network syndication

      • Old programs

    • First-run syndication

      • Programs produced for syndication

  • Cash and barter

    • Selling and controlling distribution


A c nielsen

A. C. Nielsen

  • Ratings

    • Percentage of households tuned to a sampled program

  • Shares

    • Percentage of homes tuned to a program, compared with those actually using their sets at the time of sample


The future of television

The Future of Television

  • Television is the main storytelling medium of our time

  • Big Three networks have lost more than 50% of audience since 1980s

  • How can TV maintain its cultural relevance?


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