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A history of the television station in america

Article by Mitchell Stephens Few inventions have had as much effect on contemporary American society as television. Before 1947 a history of the television station in america number of U. By the late 1990s, 98 percent of U. The typical American spends depending on the survey and the time of year from two-and-a-half to almost five hours a day watching television.

It is significant not only that this time is being spent with television but that it is not being spent engaging in other activities, such as reading or going out or socializing. The system was designed by Philo Taylor Farnsworth, a 21-year-old inventor who had lived in a house without electricity until he was 14. While still in high school, Farnsworth had begun to conceive of a system that could capture moving images in a form that could be coded onto radio waves and then transformed back into a picture on a screen.

Boris Rosing in Russia had conducted some crude experiments in transmitting images 16 years before Farnsworth's first success. Also, a mechanical television system, which scanned images using a rotating disk with holes arranged in a spiral pattern, had been demonstrated by John Logie Baird in England and Charles Francis Jenkins in the United States earlier in the 1920s.

However, Farnsworth's invention, which scanned images with a beam of electrons, is the direct ancestor of modern television. The first image he transmitted on it was a simple line. Soon he aimed his primitive camera at a dollar sign because an investor had asked, "When are we going to see some dollars in this thing, Farnsworth?

To direct the effort, the company's president, David Sarnoff, hired the Russian-born scientist Vladimir Kosma Zworykin, who had participated in Rosing's experiments.

Later that year RCA paid for a license to use Farnsworth's television patents. RCA began selling television sets with 5 by 12 in 12.

Early television was quite primitive. All the action at that first televised baseball game had to be captured by a single camera, and the limitations of early cameras forced actors in dramas to work under impossibly hot lights, wearing black lipstick and green makeup the cameras had trouble with the color white. The early newscasts on CBS were "chalk talks," with a newsman moving a pointer across a map of Europe, then consumed by war. The poor quality of the picture made it difficult to make out the newsman, let alone the map.

World War II slowed the development of television, as companies like RCA turned their attention to military production. Television's progress was further slowed by a struggle over wavelength allocations with a history of the television station in america new FM radio and a battle over government regulation.

But full-scale commercial television broadcasting did not begin in the United States until 1947. However, television networks soon would be making substantial profits of their own, and network radio would all but disappear, except as a carrier of hourly newscasts.

Ideas on what to do with the element television added to radio, the visuals, sometimes seemed in short supply. On news programs, in particular, the temptation was to fill the screen with "talking heads," newscasters simply reading the news, as they might have for radio. For shots of news events, the networks relied initially on the newsreel companies, whose work had been shown previously in movie studios.

The number of television sets in use rose from 6,000 in 1946 to some 12 million by 1951. McCarthy soon began to inveigh against what he claimed was Communist infiltration of the government. Broadcasting, too, felt the impact of this growing national witch-hunt. The Newsletter of Facts on Communism," and in 1950 a pamphlet, "Red Channels," listed the supposedly Communist associations of 151 performing artists.

Political beliefs suddenly became grounds for getting fired. Most of the producers, writers, and actors who were accused of having had left-wing leanings found themselves blacklisted, unable to get work.

The Golden Age: 1948–59

CBS even instituted a loyalty oath for its employees. Among the few individuals in television well positioned enough and brave enough to take a stand against McCarthyism was the distinguished former radio reporter Edward R. In partnership with the news producer Fred Friendly, Murrow began See It Now, a television documentary series, in 1950.

Of McCarthy, Murrow observed, "His mistake has been to confuse dissent with disloyalty. Offered free time by CBS, McCarthy replied on April 6, calling Murrow "the leader and the cleverest of the jackal pack which is always found at the throat of anyone who dares to expose Communist traitors. In 1954 the U. NBC television president Sylvester Weaver devised the "spectacular," a notable example of which was Peter Pan 1955starring Mary Martin, which attracted 60 million viewers.

Weaver also developed the magazine-format programs Today, which made its debut in 1952 with Dave Garroway as host until 1961and The Tonight Show, which began in 1953 hosted by Steve Allen until 1957. The programming that dominated the two major networks in the mid-1950s borrowed heavily from another medium: This is often looked back on as the "Golden Age" of television.

However, by 1960 only one of these series was still on the air. Viewers apparently preferred dramas or comedies that, while perhaps less literary, at least had the virtue of sustaining a familiar set of characters week after week.

I Love Lucy, the hugely successful situation comedy starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, had been recorded on film since it debuted in 1951 lasting until 1957. It had many imitators. The Honeymooners, starring Jackie Gleason, was first broadcast, also via film, in 1955 lasting until 1956 with the original cast. The first videotape recorder was invented by Ampex in 1956 see video; video recording; video technology.

Television in the United States

Another format introduced in the mid-1950s was the big-money quiz show. Cowan, by that time president of CBS television, was forced to resign from the network amid revelations of widespread fixing of game shows see Van Doren, Charles. The term "anchorman" was used, probably for the first time, to describe Walter Cronkite's central role in CBS's convention coverage that year. In succeeding decades these conventions would become so concerned with looking good on television that they would lose their spontaneity and eventually their news value.

The networks had begun producing their own news film. Increasingly, they began to compete with newspapers as the country's primary source of news see journalism. The election of a young and vital president in 1960, John F. Kennedy, seemed to provide evidence of how profoundly television would change politics.

Television in the US: History and Production

Commentators pointed to the first televised debate that fall between Kennedy, the Democratic candidate for president, and Vice-President Richard M. Nixon, the Republican's nominee. A survey of those who listened to the debate on radio indicated that Nixon had won; however, those who watched on television, and were able to contrast Nixon's poor posture and poorly shaven face with Kennedy's poise and grace, were more likely to think Kennedy had won the debate.

Television's coverage of the assassination of President Kennedy on Nov. Most Americans joined in watching coverage of the shocking and tragic events, not as crowds in the streets, but from their own living rooms.

By the end of the decade Cronkite had become not just a highly respected journalist but, according to public opinion surveys, "the most trusted man in America. While the overwhelming majority of television news reports on the Vietnam War were supportive of U. Many believed it contributed to growing public dissatisfaction with the war. And some of the anger of those defending U. Marines on a "search and destroy" mission to a complex of hamlets called Cam Ne.

The Marines faced no enemy resistance, yet they held cigarette lighters to the thatched roofs and proceeded to "waste" Cam Ne. After much debate, Safer's filmed report on the incident was shown on CBS.

Johnson, accusing the network of a lack of patriotism. During the Tet offensive in 1968, Cronkite went to Vietnam to report a documentary on the state of the war. That documentary, broadcast on Feb.

President Johnson was watching Cronkite's report. According to Bill Moyers, one of his press aides at the time: During the 1960s and 1970s a country increasingly fascinated with television was limited to watching almost exclusively what appeared on the three major networks: In the larger cities, there might also be a few independent stations mostly playing reruns of old network shows and perhaps a fledgling public broadcasting channel.

  • When was the Golden Age of Television?
  • Television, however, prompted a tendency to criticize and evaluate rather than a simple on-off response;
  • The programming that dominated the two major networks in the mid-1950s borrowed heavily from another medium:

Programming on each of the three networks was designed to grab a mass audience. Network shows therefore catered, as critics put it, to the lowest common denominator. Daytime television programming consisted primarily of soap operas and quiz shows until the 1980s, when talk shows discussing subjects that were formerly taboo, such as sexuality, became popular.

The three major networks have always been in a continual race for ratings and advertising dollars. CBS and NBC dominated through the mid-1970s, when ABC, traditionally regarded as a poor third, rose to the top of the ratings, largely because of shrewd scheduling.

Congress created the Public Broadcasting System that year. PBS comprises more than 300 stations, more than any commercial network. Some of the most praised programs on PBS, such as the dramatic series Upstairs, Downstairs 1971have been imports from Britain, which has long had a reputation for producing high-quality television. Among the many special series produced for public broadcasting, The Civil War 1990a five-part historical documentary, was particularly successful and won some of the largest audiences ever achieved by public TV.

PBS funds come from three major sources: None of these types of contributions are problem-free. Government funding brings the possibility of government interference. Conservatives, dating back to the Nixon administration, have pressured PBS to make its programming less liberal. The search for viewer donations has led to long on-air fundraising campaigns. And some critics contend that the need to win corporate support discourages programming that might challenge corporate values.

Large antennas erected in high places gave everyone connected the chance to receive all the channels available in the nearest city. It soon became apparent, however, that the "television deprived" were not the only viewers who might want access to additional channels and additional programming. In A history of the television station in america York City, cable operators contracted to broadcast the home games of the local basketball and hockey teams.

By 1971 cable had more than 80,000 subscribers in New York. Then networks specifically designed to be distributed by the cable system began to appear: Often government, not private corporations, owned some, most, or all of the major networks.

In Great Britain the British Broadcasting Corporation, the country's dominant radio broadcaster, established and retained dominance over television. The BBC, funded by a tax on the sale of television sets, established a worldwide reputation for producing quality programming. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, also freed by government support from many commercial pressures, was praised by some observers for the seriousness of much of its news and public-affairs programming.