Short lectures in Media History. Chapter Nine Television www.revolutionsincommunication.com Classroom use only . TV: wires & lights in box .
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Classroom use only
1880 – TV in the future, by French artist Albert Robida
In 1920, at age 14, Farnsworth showed his high school chemistry teacher a design for an electronic television.
RCA executive David Sarnoff announces the birth of television at the World’s Fair in New York, April 20, 1939, calling it a “torch of hope in a troubled world.”
Transition from radio to TV was not always so easy or hopeful: “The notion that a picture was worth a thousand words meant, in practice, that footage of Atlantic City beauty winners… was considered more valuable than a thousand words… on the mounting tensions in Southeast Asia.” -- historian Erik Barnouw.
Early political advertising seems primitive by modern standards. This ad, from 1952, helped popularize the Eisenhower campaign.
Before tobacco commercials were banned on TV, even cartoon characters told kids it was OK to smoke.
1964 -- Surgeon General report noting 7,000 studies linking smoking to cancer & heart problems
1971 – Tobacco advertising banned on TV
Other kinds of advertising are also more controlled in broadcasting than in printed publications.
Advertising to children is specially regulated.
FCC Chair 1961
"When television is good, nothing — not the theater, not the magazines or
newspapers — nothing is better. But when television is bad, nothing is worse… a procession of game shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons. And endlessly commercials — many screaming, cajoling, and offending. And
most of all, boredom.”
Sen. Joseph McCarthy --
Creates “red scare” with reckless charges that elements of the government (State, CIA) dominated by communists
Edward R. Murrow, CBS --
“We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if
we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended
from fearful men….”
Russian satellite begins orbiting on Oct. 6, 1957
US reaction is a huge investment in space and science programs
International telecomm satellites begin 1960s
Research for internet also begins 1960s
“Young people today find it difficult to imagine how far we were … from the global view that now seems so familiar,” Raymond Frontard, ISO, 1997
“I was involved, deeply involved, in deception…” Charles Van Doren (right), quiz show contestant.
Congressional investigations in 1959 showed that answers had been provided and shows were fully scripted.
Moscow, 1959 – Then-US Vice
President Richard Nixon (right) pokes a finger at Russian Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchevat a US exhibit depicting the average American home with a stove, washing machine, radio and other appliances.
With television cameras
rolling, Krushchev said he didn’t think the average American could afford such a home. Nixon responded: “Diversity, the right to choose … is the most important thing.”
The first presidential debates on TV
Most people believed that Nixon did not come across well on television. A majority who heard the debate on radio only thought he did better than Kennedy.
Click on the picture to get an idea of what the debate was like.
The debate format was highly structured with four reporters asking questions and a fifth journalist presiding as the debate chair.
As Gandhi noted, non-violence works best when resistance and suffering is witnessed by many people.
With TV as a witness, and the force of ethics, the constitution and logic behind the civil rights movement, laws allowing discrimination were eventually repealed, and new guarantees were put in place.
For a while, southern TV stations refused to air civil rights news. When the license at one (WLBT) was challenged, a Supreme Court justice said its conduct, along with the FCC, was “beyond repair.”
The traditional myth was that the “living
room war” proved too horrible for sensitive Americans and had a morale-sapping effect.
But detailed studies of TV and public opinion show a far more complex picture.
The steady drop in public support for the war seems unrelated to any
one set of events or images, but rather, to highly public national debates about its overall
purposes and conduct. These were carried in the media as a matter of course.
President Lyndon Johnson makes a surprise announcement that he will not run again for president in 1968. The impact of the televised Vietnam war, and its television critics, was a factor.
Educational radio was sidetracked in the 1920s, and TV broadcasters were determined to avoid that.
In 1952, some 242 TV channels reserved fir educational use.
1967 Public Broadcasting Act funded PBS, but only on a year-to-year basis. (Unlike BBC in the UK)
Public-funded broadcasting is controversial – Why not just leave it to commercial TV?
But would commercial TV have created Seseme Street ?