Today there are many television add-ons including Video Game Consoles, VCRs, Set-top boxes for Cable, Satellite and DVB-T compliant Digital Television reception, DVD players, or Digital Video Recorders (including personal video recorders, PVRs). The add-on market continues to grow as new technologies are developed.
Main article: Geographical usage of television
Since their inception in the USA in 1940, TV commercials have become one of the most effective, most pervasive, and most popular methods of selling products of many sorts, especially consumer goods. U.S. advertising rates are determined primarily by Nielsen Ratings.
Getting TV programming shown to the public can happen in many different ways. After production the next step is to market and deliver the product to whatever markets are open to using it. This typically happens on two levels:
- Original Run or First Run - a producer creates a program of one or multiple episodes and shows it on a station or network which has either paid for the production itself or to which a license has been granted by the producers to do the same.
- Syndication - this is the terminology rather broadly used to describe secondary programming usages (beyond original run). It includes secondary runs in the country of first issue, but also international usage which may or may not be managed by the originating producer. In many cases other companies, TV stations or individuals are engaged to do the syndication work, in other words to sell the product into the markets they are allowed to sell into by contract from the copyright holders, in most cases the producers.
In most countries, the first wave occurs primarily on free-to-air (FTA) television, while the second wave happens on subscription TV and in other countries. In the U.S., however, the first wave occurs on the FTA networks and subscription services, and the second wave travels via all means of distribution.
First run programming is increasing on subscription services outside the U.S., but few domestically produced programs are syndicated on domestic FTA elsewhere. This practice is increasing however, generally on digital-only FTA channels, or with subscriber-only first run material appearing on FTA.
Unlike the U.S., repeat FTA screenings of a FTA network program almost only occur on that network. Also, Affiliates rarely buy or produce non-network programming that isn't centered around local events.
Paralleling television's growing primacy in family life and society, an increasingly vocal chorus of legislators, scientists and parents are raising objections to the uncritical acceptance of the medium. For example, the Swedish government imposed a total ban on advertising to children under twelve in 1991 (see advertising). In the U.S., the National Institute on Media and the Family (not a government agency) points out that U.S. children watch an average of 25 hours of television per week and features studies showing it interferes with the educational and maturational process.
Fifty years of research on the impact of television on children's emotional and social development (Norma Pecora, John P. Murray, & Ellen A. Wartella, Children and Television: 50 Years of Research, published by Erlbaum Press, June, 2006) demonstrate that there are clear and lasting effects of viewing violence. In a recent study (February, 2006) published in the journal Media Psychology, volume 8, number 1, pages 25-37, the research team demonstrated that the brain activation patterns of children viewing violence show that children are aroused by the violence (increased heart rates), demonstrate fear (activation of the amygdala-the fight or flight sensor in the brain) in response to the video violence, and store the observed violence in an area of the brain (the posterior cingulate) that is reserved for long-term memory of traumatic events.
A 23 February 2002 article in Scientific American suggested that compulsive television watching was no different from any other addiction, a finding backed up by reports of withdrawal symptoms among families forced by circumstance to cease watching.
A longitudinal study in New Zealand involving 1000 people (from childhood to 26 years of age) demonstrated that "television viewing in childhood and adolescence is associated with poor educational achievement by 26 years of age". In other words, the more the child watched television, the less likely he or she was to finish school and enroll in a university.
In Iceland, television broadcasting hours were restricted until 1984, with no television programs being broadcast on Thursday, or during the whole of July.
Despite this research, many media scholars today dismiss such studies as flawed. For one example of this school of thought, see David Gauntlett's article "Ten Things Wrong With the Media 'Effects' Model."
In its infancy, television was an ephemeral medium. Fans of regular shows planned their schedules so that they could be available to watch their shows at their time of broadcast. The term appointment television was coined by marketers to describe this kind of attachment.
The viewership's dependence on schedule lessened with the invention of programmable video recorders, such as the Videocassette recorder and the Digital video recorder. Consumers could watch programs on their own schedule once they were broadcast and recorded. Television service providers also offer video on demand, a set of programs which could be watched at any time.
Both mobile phone networks and the internet are capable of carrying video streams. There is already a fair amount of internet TV available, either live or as downloadable programs. Mobile phone TV is planned to eventually become mainstream, after worldwide over-the-air digital TV takes over analogue and some technical difficulties can be overcome - especially the ones related to battery life.
Almost since the medium's inception there have been charges that some programming is, in one way or another, inappropriate, offensive or indecent. Critics such as Jean Kilborne have claimed that television, as well as other mass media images, harm the self image of young girls. Other commentators such as Sut Jhally, make the case that television advertising in the U.S. has been so effective that happiness has increasingly come to be equated with the purchasing of products. George Gerbner has presented evidence that the frequent portrayals of crime, especially minority crime, has led to the Mean World Syndrome, the view among frequent viewers of television that crime rates are much higher than the actual data would indicate. In addition, a lot of television has been charged with presenting propaganda, political or otherwise, and been pitched at a low intellectual level.
- Erik Barnouw, Tube of Plenty: The Evolution of American Television, Oxford University Press, 1992.
- Pierre Bourdieu, On Television, The New Press, 2001.
- Brooks, Tim and March, Earle, The Complete Guide to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, Ballantine, Eighth Edition, 2002.
- Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, Zone Books, 1995.
- Jacques Derrida, Bernard Stiegler, Echographies of Television, Polity Press, 2002.
- Jerry Mander, Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, Perennial, 1978.
- Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. Penguin USA, 1985. ISBN 0-670-80454-1
- Dr. Aric Sigman, Remotely Controlled: How Television Is Damaging Our Lives — And What We Can Do About It, Vermilion, 2005.
- Beretta E. Smith-Shomade, Shaded Lives: African-American Women and Television, Rutgers University Press, 2002.
- David E. Fisher and Marshall J. Fisher, Tube: the Invention of Television, Counterpoint, Washington D.C. USA, (1996) ISBN 1-887178-17-1
- Albert Abramson, The History of Television, 1942 to 2000, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, USA, and London (2003) ISBN 0-7864-1220-8
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