Television Studies Media Essay

Television is the medium of communication used for transmitting images and sounds in monochrome as well as colour. It is a system through which visual images and sound are reproduced on screens. Television is one of the most popular inventions that was ever created. Since its invention, it has become widespread and can be found in almost every home, business, and institution. It serves mainly as a broadcast tool but also as an advertising medium. It is a tool that cuts across all ethnic, geographic, cultural, and class diversity within society. More than 90% of American homes now have television sets.

History of Television

TV production can be traced as far back as 1880 with the cathode ray tube, which combined the camera and electricity principle to create images. At first, the television images couldn’t float through the air, so the technicians had to develop a method in which images were encoded on the TV station and decode on the TV set, Paul Nipkow would later develop the rotating disk, which enabled images to be transmitted. John Baird further invented the first picture in motion and, subsequently, the first colour tube, the iconoscope was added to the TV by Vladimir Zworykin. With time, another inventor, Philo Farnsworth, invented a system that allowed the transmission of pictures over the resolution line, which was sixty horizontal lines. These lines of the resolution were lines with lighted dots. These dots, called pixels, made up the television picture image. The combination of all the works of these pioneers led to television’s creation as we know it today, Farnsworth demonstrated the first use of a TV in public at the Franklin Institute in 1934, after these demonstrations and licensing of the patents, television became a commercial product available to the rich. The first TV sets cost between $55-and $125.

Development of Color Television

The Federal Communication Commission granted CBS the permission to perform scientific experiments on colour TV in 1953. The monochrome TV of that period could not handle the transmission because it was incompatible, but the RCA wasn’t discouraged by this. By 1954, the company had engineered the colour television standard that allowed the colour signal to work with black and white TV. Even though Americans were already used to the idea of black and white TV by this time, by 1966, the major broadcast networks — CBS, ABC, and NBC — were already broadcasting all their evening network shows in colour, which led to an increase in the popularity and subsequent acceptance of colour TV.


The development of colour television led to the rise of colour broadcasting which, in turn, attracted more people to TV. The Big Three networks were the first to adopt this broadcasting mode, and it served them well. They developed programs calculated to reach a larger audience. For instance, CBS broadcast the Beverly Hillbillies, a simple comedy. These networks started the situational comedies movement. Their programs lasted for 30 minutes and dealt with issues that resonate with many of the viewers, such as family, dramas, cowboys, soap operas, etc. These programs were mostly entertainment programs that focused on attracting a wider audience for advertising dollars and positive ratings.

The Carnegie Commission report in 1967 suggested the need for a public TV network that would be noncommercial and focused on the nonprofit and educational stations that were in operation at that time. The implementation of that recommendation led to the creation of the Public Broadcasting System. This network was funded with views donations, corporate underwriters, and administration funds. It created programs such as Sesame Street and many others.

Cable Television

Cable was the major competition for broadcasting. It originated in States such as Oregon, New York, and Pennsylvania, where mountains and skyscrapers prevented the transmission of signals to television sets. Cable television, which made use of a coaxial cable at its onset, enabled television viewers to access more channels with clearer pictures. The development led to the concept of pay per view, which allowed customers to buy movies and shows that can be watched instantly.

Online Television

This came with the development of the internet and the widespread use of mobile devices. It offers the convenience to access different content with the least effort. It has become cheaper and more efficient with time than cable and broadcast televisions with newer television devices integrating the internet into their system.

Use of Television

TV, as an effective form of mass media, serves significant purposes, these include:

Information: Humans need information almost as much as they need food and water. Information reduces uncertainty, satisfies curiosity, and ensures there is a better understanding of the world. TV has played a significant role in spreading information and plays a role even as the influx and accessibility to information have greatly increased.

Interpretation: TV doesn’t only spread information but also interprets the information in ethical ways. At times, the interpretation is opinionated as TV personalities offer their views on certain political, cultural, or social issues.

Entertainment: This is where television has become most active in recent years. With the rise of cable and online television, TV shows have increased as accessibility has also increased, in this manner, many have learned to use television as a means of diversion to distract themselves from other issues or for relaxation.

Instructive: TV also serves educational or instructive purposes. It is necessary to point out that not all such educational content is truly objective; some are propaganda. However, TV also cultivates knowledge in the viewers at times.


Television studies are a comprehensive class that touches on salient issues and will give students a complete understanding of television and its impacts. The device has had significant effects on society through all these functions and how we view several fundamental concepts such as time, space, sound, and image.

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