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Television: History of Technology. 1880s: Paul Nipkow experiments with mechanical disk television; leads to 1926: John Logie Baird (U.K) invents first practical television. 1927: Simultaneous development of electronic television by Farnsworth (scanning process)

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Television: History of Technology

1880s: Paul Nipkow experiments with mechanical disk television; leads to

1926: John Logie Baird (U.K) invents first practical television.

1927: Simultaneous development of electronic television by Farnsworth (scanning process)

and Zworykin (cathode ray tube).


Television: History of Technology

Philo Farnsworth, Fort Wayne Resident, 1939-mid 1940s

Farnsworth House on East State Boulevard


Television: History of Technology

1941: National Television Systems Committee adopts 525-line resolution for U.S. broadcast television. This standard is only now being replaced by Digital Television (DTV) and High Definition Television (HDTV).

1948-1952: FCC freezes new station licenses.

1952: The “freeze” ends and the two band system adopted: Very High Frequency (VHF), from 2-13 and Ultra High Frequency (UHF) 14-83, later reduced to 14-70.

NOTE: The FM band was assigned in the gap between VHF channel 6 and channel 7.


Television: The 1950s

1. Television replaces radio as the national mass medium: programming, celebrities, and use of leisure time.

2. Influence of Sylvester “Pat” Weaver (NBC): spot advertising replaces sponsorship, daypart programming (Today and Tonight shows), and “specials.”

3. The establishment of the three commercial networks (stable until mid-1980s).

4. Quiz show scandals: The end of innocence

5. Influence of Desi Arnez: filming live television series to enable reruns.


Television: The 1960s-1970s

1. The dominance of television news: the Kennedy assassination, the space race, the civil rights struggles, and the Vietnam War.

2. The dominance of television entertainment: mostly situation comedies and dramatic series.

3. By 1966, network television coverts totally to color (Last monochrome network television series was The Avengers).

4. The mini-series (1970s): Rich Man, Poor Man and Roots


Television: Technology, 1970-2000s

  • 1. 1976: The creation of super stations from local independent television stations (Ted Turner, WTBS).
  • 2. Development of home video taping: Betamax (Sony) and VHS (JVC). By 19179, home taping is allowed by Supreme Court decision: “Time-shifting”
  • 3. Competition from cable systems, microwave systems (wireless cable), and satellite delivery (C and Ku band).
  • Digital television : Requires reassignment of the spectrum: DTV/HDTV Scam
  • Recordable DVD
  • TIVO/Hard drive recording: digital timeshifting

Television: Regulation and Competition

  • Prime Time Access Rule (PTAR), 1970: Limited networks programming in prime time.
  • Financial Interest and Syndication Rules (FinSyn): Prohibited networks from financial interest in their programs and from subsequent participation in off-network distribution of those programs. These rules were rescinded in 1995-96.
  • 1987: The Fox network emerges as viable competition, although not classified as a network and this able to avoid the above limitations. United Paramount (UPN) and Warner Brothers (WB) appeared in the 1990s and merged in 2006 to form the CW.

Television: Economics

  • Prime Time Production: Based on deficit financing. Network licensing fees do not cover total production cost: profit comes from off-network syndication.
  • Networks own some stations (limited now to 35% of the population). Affiliates are contractually obligated to air network programs, but are independent of the networks
  • First run syndication: Independently produced programs sold on a market-by-market basis (such as Oprah and Xena: Princess Warrior. May be cash sale, barter, or cash and barter. Stripping: syndicated programs aired five times per week at the same time.
  • Barter/Cash

Television: Economics

Ratings and Shares:

The cost of advertising time is based mostly on the rating and share of that time slot (generated by the program):

Rating = % of Total Television Homes (TT) (This figure will always be less the 100% total for the time slot: not everyone has a tv set on)

Share = % of Homes Using Television (HUT) (This figure must total 100% for all programs in the time slot)