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Dec 28, 2012

Television’s invention is a product of technologies borne out of Cold War-era espionage activities that were later on passed off as electronic media innovations for industrial and various business use. It might surprise you to find out that television technology shares the same cloak and dagger beginnings with such everyday appliances as air conditioners, photocopiers, and even the typical mobile business phone.

As television technology crept into living rooms as tools for entertainment media viewing, its subsequent commodification as a visual mass media conduit earned it the niche it now enjoys among consumers. Television sets have become the primary gadgets to view TV shows. TV shows that have become big business for broadcast networks. TV shows exemplify commercialism in the guise of entertainment. What it offers is instant gratification and the opportunity to enjoy the thrills of celebrity no matter how vicarious. Contrary to what you may believe, TV shows exist because of corporate sponsorship that pay big bucks to air their commercials at premium prices. It was never the other way around from the very beginning.


TV entertainment isn't like cinema or the theater in any way. It may seem similar as a visual entertainment in form but the substance by which it presents itself as relevant and immediate can never be the same as what cinema or the legitimate stage offers. First of all, television shows are conceptualized, produced and broadcast in ways designed to cater to a broad but unsophisticated audience. A mass market made up of viewers with a low tolerance for intelligent discussion, educational viewing, or insightful televiewing fare. You may consider TV news or documentaries to be informative but the way info is presented by mainstream media will always be slanted towards the sensational. TV is all about broadcast drama, after all. 

Television entertainment is essentially info efficiently dumbed down to the dummy level to make its message accessible to all market groups. This is why it is also known as the “boob tube.” There are other essential realities about it that can help you realize how much or how little you know about TV:

  • Ratings not quality. How long TV shows stay on the air is not determined by how good it is as a viewing fare because viewership is a relative aspect of television production. Viewership will always be gauged from the context of how much a certain viewer demography can find compatibility with the TV ads that its sponsors place within the show. Any show might enjoy a large viewership percentage per se but if its viewers do not react profitably to the ads of the sponsor within the show as a targeted consumer group, it will encounter programming problems. Sponsors will be backing out of the show and if no new sponsors are found to replace it, the show gets axed. High ratings attract ad placements from companies whose products/services match certain demographic groups watching certain TV shows. Quality viewing is but secondary.
  • Advertisers are the “boss”. The pressure exerted on them by advertiser groups heavily influences TV programming done by networks. The nature, content, topics, format, and content presentation of various TV shows, whether TV producers admit it or not, will always be subject to advertising placement potential pressure. There will always be this need for network producers to strike a balance between the kind of shows you want to see and the kind of advertising opportunities companies and retailers would want to get hold of. In other words, it’s not the network that really calls all the shots. The golden rule applies: He who has the gold rules. The advertiser!
  • Viewers will always be manipulated. For good or bad, viewers will always be subject to manipulation by the network, TV show directors and stars, advertising sponsors, and the entertainment media itself. Information will always be biased and will play around with the rules of broadcast objectivity and fair play. Free TV will always be prone to stage-managed mass hysteria by networks and celebrities. Even cable TV will always have a programming slant that viewers can never avoid nor evade for as long as they stay curiously glued to their TV sets. TV is a close-up medium. It seldom gives you a complete picture. The bigger picture is for you to think up --- if you can!
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Posted: Friday December 28, 2012, 1:44 pm
Tags: show tv television [add/edit tags]

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Edward Morrison
male, age 30,
Akron, CO, USA
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