Television History Essay

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If television is considered a cultural habit, what new habits are emerging? Draw on the example of one national TV product.

Media has a massive impact on many peoples understanding of history and plays a crucial role upon much of the general public. TV is a notoriously popular format and it is now ubiquitous in almost every single household. Impressions of our history can be perceived through this medium and it is worthy of consideration for various past events e.g. through watching factual documentaries. I will take into account and focus mainly on a very recent form of television programme known as the talent show, primarily on the singing competitions such as pop idol and the x factor. The main aim I have is to explore the way these programmes have been initially received by the general public and how they have grown in popularity. The main issue I will aim to tackle in this essay will revolve around the reality TV genre and how the format has certain perceptions and what qualities must be possessed and required in order for it to be categorised as a reality TV programme.

This essay will aim to interpret any new emerging habits that are appearing in TV broadcasts nowadays by analysing a variety of different sources. I will start from the very beginning of television history, from its infancy to its current pervasive status, and see if I can find a pattern that will correlate to viewing figures and the similar types of programmes being commissioned or coming into fruition. Hopefully there should be a distinct pattern or direct correlation between the two. I will be looking at previous successful TV programmes and comparing them to a few examples of failures within the industry. This is will hopefully enable me to distinguish any new emerging habits in TV programming. I aim to use academic sources and internet sources for my study into this field in order for me to build a thorough case and identify any new emerging trends if at all there are any.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the most powerful form of media were radio, cinema and the dominant one being newspapers. People got to hear about their current affairs from these mediums and so the most recent news or hot debatable topics were spread this way through verbal communication and social interaction. Then in the early 1920’s a new invention came along on the horizon and changed society and the future of media, this revolutionary invention being the television. The Television didn’t particularly have one inventor, but rather it was a contribution of inventors over a period of time, the very first publicly demonstrated television system was by a man named John Logie Baird (1888-1946). He was an inventor and Scottish engineer and introduced the world to its first electromechanical colour television. “By 1924 he managed to transmit a flickering image across a few feet. On 26 January 1926 he gave the world's first demonstration of true television before 50 scientists in an attic room in central London.” (Internet source 1) This certainly paved the way to the future of modern day television but back then these very first images were blurry, grainy and rough opaque objects at best. Nonetheless it was as stepping stone towards something on much grander scale and his work was seen as pioneering. He achieved his place in history and rightfully was placed in a prominent position along with the other inventors of the Television.

The first all electronic television was demonstrated to the public by an inventor named Philo Taylor Farnsworth (1906-1971) who was another pioneer towards the development of the television. His system comprised of an image pick up device known as the image dissector. “In 1927, Philo Farnsworth was the first inventor to transmit a television image comprised of 60 horizontal lines. The image transmitted was a dollar sign. Farnsworth developed the dissector tube, the basis of all current electronic televisions.” (Internet source 2)...
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