Continuum: The Australian Journal of Media & Culture
Vol. 4, No. 2, 1991
Television and ...
Edited by John Hartley

Of homes and machines: TV, Technology, and Fun in America, 1944-1984

Paul Attallah

In the United States, the technology of TV, the patents and ideas upon which it is based, and the financial institutional infrastructure which allows it to operate all came to be owned or controlled by the radio networks. RCA in particular was especially diligent in assembling the elements which would make broadcast TV possible; but so too were CBS and the Don Lee System. Furthermore, many of the earliest electronic licences were granted to radio-related interests. From 1945 to the present, three radio networks, NBC, CBS, and ABC, have come to exercise almost unchallenged control over TV.

It may seem somewhat paradoxical, however, especially in light of the fact that TV virtually destroyed American network radio, that the radio networks themselves should have been so intimately involved in the preparation of the instrument of their own demise. Indeed, a single headline sums up entirely the impact of TV on radio: "TV's gain is radio's loss". 1

As soon as regular large-scale commercial TV broadcasts began in the late 1940s, network radio started to die. The networks cut back their evening programming, they reduced advertising rates, they lost affiliates, their major stars switched to TV, they resorted to cheaper programming. Not only did TV consistently capture larger audiences and consequently advertising revenues than radio, but it was also held to have provoked unprecedented declines in numerous other activities, from eating out in restaurants (causing declines in taxicab and juke box receipts to library borrowings and book buying 2). In short, TV rapidly became America's favourite pastime, and therein lies the reason for radio's interest in it. Indeed, the radio networks stood to gain a great deal in advertising revenue from the introduction of TV and from their own transformation into TV networks. TV had been anxiously awaited not only by the public, the electronics and broadcast industries, but also, and perhaps especially, by the advertising industry. In fact, TV's potential as an advertising medium was universally hailed:

Of all the technological advances now on the horizon, none has caught the interest of American business men more than the imminence of a public television service. The reasons are not hard to find. Here is the beginning of a new industry with unplumbed potentialities for nearly every line of business endeavour ... it offers a new advertising medium which may conceivably be the most effective ever devised. If its promise ' as a seller of goods is fulfilled, it may multiply the rates of production and consumption in every branch of industry. 3

While sponsors of TV programs may disagree or be doubtful about various phases of present activity, most of them appear to be in accord on one vital principle that ensures a healthy financial future for TV. They agree on the greater power of sound-and-sight advertising over sound or sight alone ... It is estimated that TV will be at least three times more effective as an advertising medium than radio alone. 4

Phillip Kerby, author of The Victory of Television (1939), exulted that TV was "the most dramatic advertising medium ever devised for quick results and fast profits" and that "[t]elevision adds an infinite number of arrows to the sale executive's quiver" 5. Fortune magazine, on the other hand, observed much more succinctly that "television is the best advertising medium yet devised". 6

Significantly, the industry was able to marshal all this euphoria before commercial TV had even been licensed. After its licensing the advertising market for TV exploded. Nonetheless, in the pre-commercialisation period, not only were various interests singing the praises of TV as an advertising medium, but the TV industry itself was also actively wooing advertisers to collaborate on the design of programming. On this point, Noran E. Kersta, the assistant co-ordinator for TV at NBC, writing in 1940, is unambiguously clear:

... a considerable amount of research was conducted on the advertising aspects of television. In fact, programs thought suitable for advertising purposes, involving products of many different industries, were tried ... A considerable number of manufacturing and advertising agencies co-operated in the production of these shows ... A point has been made to keep advertisers and advertising agencies constantly informed on the progress of television advertising.

Alfred H. Norton, NBC's TV vice-president, also stated:

We have found advertisers and advertising agencies keenly interested in television. Some of them, excluded by the nature of their goods, had no success in sound broadcasting. Others, more or less successful in radio appeals, are aware that television will open new opportunities for promoting the sale of their goods. In increasing numbers advertisers have brought in programs for telecasting, eager to discover for themselves some of the potentialities of television advertising.

In other words, the development of TV was to be guided in large part by the interests of the advertising industry. TV programs were to be designed for, and indeed supplied by, the advertising industry. TV experimentation and the struggle to achieve standards occurred, therefore under the sign of advertising. The technology was not to be developed to the fullest extent possible of modern scientific knowledge, but to the point where the TV industry could sufficiently and profitably serve the needs of the advertising industry. This is hardly surprising when one considers that as early as 1929, the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE) defined the function of standardisation as the provision of "a service of high quality, or, as we will refer to it hereafter, a 'commercial' television service". 9 Indeed, the Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) licensing policy throughout the 1930s, and especially its limited commercial sponsorship policy, was intended to encourage experimentation not only in technical matters but also, as the example of CBS emphatically demonstrates, in program formats. Furthermore, the FCC's abandonment of its responsibility to the industrial sector is a de facto acceptance of advertising and commercialism as the definitive forms of American TV. Commercialisation and standardisation are, therefore, inextricably linked.

The power of TV as an advertising medium was expected to stem from two main sources: first, images, under any circumstances, were expected to be more powerful than words, and second, TV was expected to command greater audience attention. The twin factors, then, of the power of the image and the fascination of the technology were expected to make TV advertising much more persuasive and much more captivating than radio advertising. As Kerby states:

In no other medium is it possible to show the actual product and demonstrate its use, both visually and orally. The magic of human voice in radio has done more to make sales by its oratory injunction, "Don't delay, see your dealer today", than any amount of bold type could ever do. Through the addition of the sight of the product to the voice of the announcer, the potentialities are unlimited ... the television advertiser may discover that a pot of gold lies at the consumer's end of the television rainbow. 10

The belief in the twin powers of TV was not only expressed in relationship to advertising, however. In 1939, David Sarnoff (NBC) attested to the perceived effectiveness of TV on a far wider range of matters:

With the advent of television, the combined emotional results of both seeing and hearing an event or performance at the instant of its occurrence become new forces to be reckoned with, and they will be much greater forces than those aroused by audition only. The emotional appeal of pictures to the mass of people is everywhere apparent. 11

Sarnoff's use of the language of "arousal" and the "mass of people" is interesting because it is, of course, precisely the language of many later investigators of TV inquiring into its impact as an arouser of violent or other emotions in society at large. Nonetheless, in 1941, Sarnoff, still wishing to insist on both the power of the image and the attention it would command, drew attention to the benefits which TV could bring to politicians as well as to advertisers:

Political addresses are certain to be more effective when the candidate is both seen and heard and when he is able to supplement his address with charts or pictures. Showmanship in presenting a political appeal by television will become more important than mere skill in talking or possession of a good radio voice, while appearance and sincerity will prove decisive factors with an audience which observes the candidate in closeup views. 12

A logical corollary to the celebration of the power of TV was fear that this very power could be used for unforseen or undesirable ends. Indeed, some critics of the broadcasting industry stated their worry explicitly: "When to the spoken word is added the living image, the effect is to magnify the potential dangers of a machine which can subtly instill ideas, strong beliefs, profound disgust and affections." 13

Finally, in a statement which both presumes and demonstrates the alleged power of TV to sell goods, Frank Stanton, president of CBS, said "Advertisers wouldn't pay these prices if it didn't". 14

It is interesting to note that both of these positions, whether of fear or of celebration, are entirely technological views of TV. The fascination and power of the medium are held to lie in its very technology. TV is powerful simply because it provides pictures and because pictures are 'naturally' fascinating. Nowhere is it suggested that the power of pictures might lie m the entire range of other available representations; nor that only certain pictures will be allowed to achieve their power via TV; nor that the power of the technology might lie with those who control it; nor that the power of TV might lie in its institutional nature, in its virtual monopolisation of the airwaves, in its design for the exclusion of other voices, in its insertion within and maintenance of other institutions, or in the genuine services which it might render. Instead, its power exists as some absolute given lying latently in its technology. This is an a-contextual view of TV.

One of the results of a technologically a-contextual view of TV is a falling back upon a belief in the transparency of images. Indeed, the supposed power of TV - what Sarnoff calls "the combined emotional results of both seeing and hearing" - lies precisely in the belief that an image of a thing somehow makes the thing itself more tangible and more present, and therefore more powerful. Obviously, if images are deprived of their contexts, their power must derive from their special relationship to that which they represent, from their transparency or a metaphysics of presence. This is, of course, one of the tenets of effects research and it continues in studies of representations of sex, violence, and so on. Consequently, both those within the industry as well as many outside appear to be trapped within the terms of the same debate, both concentrate either joyously or ominously on the power of TV, and both proclaim its links to advertising and politics, such that it becomes extremely difficult to move beyond the belief in transparency. At most, one can impugn either the good will of those who control TV (are they using it for good or ill?) or the intelligence of those who watch TV (are they being affected by it or not?). Indeed, research often does nothing more than repeat in more or less inverted forms that which the institution of TV has already stated. Consequently, this research is often more interesting for the nature of its repetitions than for the nature of its insights.

Besides wooing advertisers, however, the TV industry was also busy in the 1930s laying the groundwork for future TV networks. AT & T had begun laying coaxial cable, specially designed to carry TV signals, as early as 1936, and in that same year, RCA had begun experimenting with video relay stations. Indeed, the pattern of multi-city ownership of TV stations indicated the clear intention of establishing networks both in order to maximise audiences and profits and to amortise the cost of programming.

The first network was established in 1940 between Philadelphia, New York, and Schenectady when NBC covered the Republican Party's convention in Philadelphia and relayed it by cable to New York and from there over the air to Schenectady. In 1946, NBC established an "East Coast

Network" between those three cities and by 1948 had added Washington, DC, Baltimore, Boston, and Chicago. By 1951, the network linked New York and Los Angeles.

All of these activities, therefore, indicate not only the willingness but also the foresight of the radio networks in transforming themselves into TV networks. Indeed, in 1947, speaking before the NBC affiliates convention, no less a person than David Sarnoff urged radio broadcasters to become TV broadcasters:

Those who are not now in television will find their sound broadcasting revenue, which is based on circulation, diminished. The fact is self-evident. To maintain their position in their local communities, to render the greatest possible service, and to safeguard the capital investments and earning capacities of established sound-broadcasting stations, prudent owners will consider television as an added new service, vitally necessary to insure their existing business against reduction of audience, loss of profits, and depreciation of investments. 15

And, as Bitting reports: "many NBC broadcastings - simply on the strength of Sarnoff's favour and sincerity - made the decision to 'go television'". 16 Sarnoff's enthusiasm for TV was well rooted in the other advantages he saw flowing from it. In 1947, he also said:

Television, therefore offers the radio industry a combination of opportunities: first, to make transmitters and receiver sets, second to equip theatres and third, to manufacture for industrial applications. 17

To this end, the TV industry:

1. created a fully-integrated system which from transmission to reception, could be sold to the public as a single working technology with the guarantee that the adopted standards would not change and would, therefore prevent is from becoming obsolete;

2. created a system whose technical characteristics (picture definition ease of operation) and relative affordability would be attractive to the public;

3. carried out public demonstrations all through the 1930s, especially on important occasions such as the opening of the New York World's Fair, a major political convention, or a big sporting event. These, combined with a constant flow of press reports, served to keep TV in the public eye and to whet an appetite for it;

4. conducted audience research in New York City in order to determine program preferences (both RCA/NBC);

5. made a consistent effort to involve advertisers in the development of TV and thereby ensure a sound financial base for its future;

6. actively established a network in order to maximise audiences and profits and minimise expenditures.

One of the distinct advantages of early planning and the involvement of advertisers for the TV industry was the shortening of the lag between the introduction of the technology (exploitation of ownership) and the much more lucrative maximisation of audiences (exploitation of attention). Thus advertisers would not have to be convinced of the value of TV nor would they have to experiment with formats or techniques. Networks would be ready to expand as soon as possible, both because networking facilities had been foreseen and because radio operators had converted to TV. Program suppliers would already have a store of knowledge concerning program preferences and experience in program production. Furthermore, the new networks would be able to draw upon the extensive managerial and production expertise, as well as the vast talent pools, acquired on radio. Additionally, in order to stimulate received sales so that TV broadcasting could become profitable as quickly as possible, RCA held:

Licensee Symposia ... throughout mid-'46 in which the inhouse manufacturing know-how which RCA had acquired in producing the 630-TS [10 in. table model TV receiver] was made available to any interested licensee. This act very probably did more to accelerate the phenomenal volume of TV set manufacture by American industry over the next two years than any other taken by RCA. 18

The TV Boom

At the end of the war, therefore, the industry and the United States were ready for a new TV boom. The mere existence of a technology, however, does not account for its success. In this century alone, the electric automobile, the videophone, and video games are examples of three technologies which either failed to find favour with the public or which with amazing alacrity became spent forces. The TV boom requires, therefore, some explanation, and the following factors help account for it: optimism, demographic shifts, the state, and viewers.


TV was expected to have beneficial effects well beyond the field of advertising. Indeed, it was envisaged as a sort of industrial motor driving not only the American economy but also self-realisation and international harmony. Some were positively existential in their enthusiasm for TV:

If every last fragment of research connected with television were destroyed tomorrow television would be invented again. What is the reason for all this expenditure of effort? ... Deep in all is a longing to know one another and to be known. In the last analysis we are all lonely and alone, and in our loneliness we reach out to one another. The human urge to "get together" is ancient and strong. It is my belief that we are moving rapidly toward a society in which every human being can be immediately present to every other human being in the world. 19

Robert E. Lee, soon to be an FCC commissioner, stated in a chapter entitled "Television as a Force for Freedom":

It [TV] is our most effective means for brewing thoughts in men's minds. If the people of television hang on to their principles, they can preserve the momentum of post-war internationalism. They can employ the emotional power of the medium to keep the ball rolling. To prevent a reactionary backsliding to a state more hopeless than before. Telecasting can keep idealism in style. If the eyes of television burn bright with an enthusiasm for a better post-war world, our chances for achieving it are substantially increased. Video broadcasts can integrate our thinking, steady it, and speed the realisation of a happy, stable world society. 20

Indeed, even David Sarnoff was moved to say that:

The ultimate contribution of television will be its service towards unification of the life of the nation, and at the same time the greater development of the life of the individual. We who have laboured in the creation of this promising new instrumentality are proud to launch it on its way, and hope that through its proper use America will rise to new heights as a nation of free people and high ideals. 21

Of course, such hopes were too burdensome to place on the shoulders of any single technology, especially one owned and developed by some of the world's most rapacious organisations. Most such hopes have been betrayed and only the more economically-oriented expectations have been realised:

TV will be an important economic stimulus. Factories will require more skilled workers; trained sales staff will be needed; entertainers, business executives, and employees will find new opportunities . .. because of the size of the investment already made in television, and because of its great potentialities for both service and profit, television must develop as a major force in this country. 22

This generalised optimism served to make TV a highly desirable object. It could seem that it would do nothing but good; indeed the non-commercial optimism could serve to justify the commercial, even to link commercial expectations to those for peace or self-fulfilment.

Nonetheless, the late 1940s and early 1950s did mark the beginning of a new American economic boom. Indeed, for TV to have all the economic spin-offs predicted, the entire economy would have to expand. Furthermore, industry was producing not just TV sets but also a whole range of reasonably affordable consumer goods: cars, transistor radios, refrigerators, etc. This is also the period of the launching of such integral parts of modern culture as the industrial computer (Univac 1951) MacDonald's (1955) and other fast food services, affordable air travel shopping malls, rock'n'roll, Holiday Inns (1955), Disneyland (1955) and such capital- and technology-intensive public projects as the cold war and the space program. Without inventing it, TV certainly attended at the birth of modem consumer culture, whose trends and moods it adopted and from whose economic expansion it undoubtedly benefited. Nor must it be forgotten that World War Il, just like World War I, had greatly expanded the productive capacity of the electronics industry. The electronics industry had become one of the military's major suppliers. Westinghouse, for example, manufactures everything from Trident nuclear submarines to toaster-ovens TV was to be an important means of maintaining production capacity and a launching pad into other sectors of the economy.

Demographic shifts

The introduction of TV corresponded to two important demographic shifts in North America: the baby boom and the intensification of suburbanisation. Both of these were important stimulants to economic growth. TV became, in that context, a technology of contact desirable both for its modernity and for its reach:

The backwoods television viewer can see in his distant sitting room as much of the world's art and news-drama as if he lived in the largest city on the planet. Arkansas' man-in-the-street will know as much about what's stirring as the inhabitants of the national capital. 23

Lest there be any doubt about the relationship between TV and suburbanisation, one need only tum to the architectural magazines of the late 1940s and early 1950s: they are full of suggestions for the design and decoration of the single-family suburban home equipped with TV.

Interiors (1951), the magazine of interior designers, decorators, and architects, devoted a special issue to the subject which is highly educational. Under titles such as "Cyclops: the Nature of the New Household Pet" and "How Cyclops is Domesticated" 24, advice is offered on how and where to install TV sets in kitchens, bedrooms, basements, living rooms, family rooms, and so on. The text is naturally accompanied by pictures of spacious suburban homes richly appointed with Swedish-design furniture, electrical appliances, clean counters, and happy children. There are architectural sketches on where to locate the set for maximum viewing comfort, on the height that best suits children, on how to seat a party of eight, and so on. This image of comfortable suburban living is the very expression of the American dream.

Indeed, as early as 1943, in its "Third Annual Collection of Interiors to Come", Interiors magazine was integrating TV and suburban living. In a special section, Interiors advised its readers that: "[t]hese designers are bothered with the problem of civilian postwar housing, and almost all of them are approaching the same solution, whether it be through the elegant alcoves of Mr. Joseph Platt, or the television living room of Mr. Richard M. Bennett.' 25

In this single section, New York interior designer Tommi Parzinger under the heading "For Self-Supporting Suburbanites", offers a plan for "a one-family house in a suburban, country, or industrial settlement". Richard Bennett "develops the idea of using a radio-TV set as the center of interests rather than the traditional fireplace":

The television unit is set in a low position separating the raised dining area from the living room proper. News may be seen from one side during meals; other broadcasts viewed later in the evening from the living room. 26

Other articles dealing specifically with the home and TV includes "House Lighting Tailored for Television"; "How Do You Light a Room for Television?"; and "Television - Its Hypnotic Screen Will Change Our Approach to Designing Living Room and Making Love". 27 In the latter, the author speculates that in the living room of the future:

Furniture groupings will be theater style, and many more small tables will be included in the room's equipment to hold plates - mere appetite is no valid reason to miss any television program. Luminescent paints may come in for considerable use in living rooms, for sake of safe traffic in the dark, and could be used as finishes on plates and silverware. 28

The interest of these articles lies not so much in their prescience, as in the material wealth and comfort they necessarily presuppose. The baby boom only further stimulated consumer demand and made durables such as washing machines and TV sets highly appealing to suburban dwellers In addition, TV also served a much more immediate economic need as waves of "[r]eturning servicemen with radar experience, whose knowledge was convertible to television, were snapped up by many stations". It is obvious that the TV industry wanted TV to succeed and actively wooed advertisers who also wanted TV to succeed because it provided them with yet another, and apparently more powerful, avenue of access to the public.

The state

TV, however, served not only the interests of advertisers and industry, it also corresponded to government or state interests in three main ways- it stimulated the economy, it gave very wide exposure to events of state (space shots, political conventions, etc.), and it could be an effective tool of foreign policy.

Indeed, TV has always closely associated itself with politics, and many of its most memorable and most formative moments have occurred in conjunction with the celebration of the American political system and the power of the state. The events around which the moments of celebration were structured were memorable and formative in a number of ways: they allowed TV to display and to regulate its own functioning, to expand its infrastructure and audience, and to co-ordinate itself with the interests and agenda of the state. For example, AT & T's first public demonstration of TV (1927) involved a speech by the Secretary of Commerce, Herbert Hoover; RCA's launch date (1939) just happened to coincide with a presidential address; the first network (1940) was established to cover a political party convention; in 1952, national networks were established to cover the conventions of both the Democratic and Republican Parties. Indeed, to this very day, American presidents reserve the right to interrupt programming as and when they see fit without anyone finding this to be an objectionable practice. However, if presidents were to commandeer the front page of newspapers whenever they wanted, this would be taken as an assault on the very foundations of American liberty. TV's function of nation-binding is simply assumed.

Such occasions, however, are auspicious not only because they allow TV to display itself but especially because they represent the mobilisation of vast technical resources for the purpose of extolling the American political system. These occasions represent an acknowledgment of that which is televisually worthy, and of the way in which that worthiness must be managed and shown. TV was mobilised for the glorification of state occasions rather than for exposing social strife (as in the 1930s). These moments involve not simply an acknowledgment of worth but also an entire curriculum for training staff, using equipment, and constituting audiences. The coverage of political conventions and space launchings, beyond affirming once again the political agenda of the state, is also crucial in teaching TV how to make compelling narratives out of events which are neither necessarily narrative nor compelling. Furthermore, not only do these moments afford TV the opportunity of stabilising its narrative processes, they also imply the constitution of a type of audience for whom this process of telling the story of the state is both acceptable and comprehensible. In both these respects, the four-day televising of the assassination and funeral of president Kennedy was of paramount importance. This was one of the moments of TV's greatest legitimacy but also of its greatest self-display and narrative stabilisation.

Such occasions present opportunities of incalculable value for stabilising and perfecting TV narrative, for expanding the audience, for legitimating TV journalism, for acquiring new equipment and trying out new techniques such as satellite hook-ups, for hiring extra staff, and for co-ordinating the use of TV with the interests of the state. Here are to be found the seeds of "special events programming", those moments when TV abandons itself entirely to the celebration of its own capacities, when it revels in foregrounding its own technology and delights in making events special not because of some intrinsic value, but simply because they are on TV. Different events tend more towards one or the other of these functions. Space launchings and political conventions, for example, were lessons in narrative, opportunities for augmenting the audience and acquiring new equipments, occasions for the perfecting of special effects, graphics, and new modes of address. Edward Murrow's expose of Senator McCarthy in 1954, the Kennedy/Nixon debates of 1960, and the coverage of the Watergate affair in 1972-1974, on the other hand, can all quite rightly be looked upon as formative moments because they allowed TV to associate itself with and to display power, to stake out its claim to journalistic respectability and legitimacy and again to learn how to turn potentially non-narrative events into compelling stores.

The same functions are also fulfilled by advertising. To begin with, the commercial basis of TV establishes the fundamental parameters within which TV must operate, the type of networking it must institute, the type of content it must produce, and the type of audience it must seek. The pressures of commercialism also account for a large part of TV's content in the form of commercials themselves. As with politics, commercials are moments during which many of TV's practices are defined, and they also call upon TV to recognise that which is socially worthy as well as the manner in which it must be represented. As with politics, a list of TV's high commercial moments could be drawn up: the shift from circulation to demographics in the late 1960s, the early era of live commercials, the move from 60- to 30-second commercials in the early 1970s, the transformation of characters in ads to full-blown celebrities, the memorable slogans and songs, the increasingly compressed and elliptical narratives of commercials, the vertiginous levels of expenditure in commercial production, the passage of the commercials' mode of address into the currency of everyday humour, the constitution of audiences for which this type of story-telling is both acceptable and comprehensible. The main difference between commercials and political events is that the former are more frequent and more numerous. Their evolution is therefore less perceptible. Commercials do not arrive one every two or three years as easily isolable special events. They also tend to be treated far less seriously than politics and it is no doubt in their very unworthiness that they are most identifiable as the products of TV, that most unworthy of institutions. As a sense of being a special event is harder to maintain, it tends to be made up in lavish productions and the endless striving for freshness. At any given moment in American network broadcast TV, there is an ad or group of ads which are just as popular, interesting, and exciting as any of the programming. The importance of commercials for allowing TV to stabilise its narrative and display its potential should not be underestimated. In their very fragmentariness, condensation, and ubiquity, in their very craftedness, expense, and dismissibility commercials become: the supremely televisual product: hence another part of their exhilaration, that of seeing a medium used for itself, and not. weighed down by cultural assumptions which are not its TV as a tool of foreign policy is also interesting. David Sarnoff himself was acutely aware of the international importance of TV:

We enter now a new phase in the development of television. Whatever its possibilities or whatever its limitations, one thing you may be certain of: there is not only national but worldwide interest in the great promise of television ... That nation which establishes television first will undoubtedly have the first great advantage in establishing its designs, its patterns, and its standards in the rest of the world and will thus gain a great advantage in the export markets.

Indeed, the US government rapidly realised that, just like radio and films before it, TV could powerfully promote the American way of life and American interests. American programs were exported to foreign countries as soon as they had constructed networks. Furthermore, the American programs were made available at prices far below the actual production costs in those countries. In countries which were slow to build TV systems, the US government stepped in and accomplished the task for them. It also encouraged the penetration of American broadcasting into foreign countries not only through program exports but through financial deals as well which brought foreign systems under American control or ownership. Bunce 31 reports that ABC alone owns or operates TV systems in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, Bermuda, Lebanon, Ryukus, and the Philippines. The three American networks are extremely active throughout the Middle East and Europe. Needless to say, the reverse is not true since the US Communications Act of 1934 prohibits foreign ownership of American broadcasting.

The upshot of this model, of course, is that the United States has one of the worlds most tightly sealed broadcasting systems. Americans are virtually never exposed to TV information or entertainment emanating from non-American sources on network TV (this is not true for PBS). The absence of other voices, perspectives, and attitudes can be a powerful tool of government control, and, as a consequence, Americans tend to be the first victims of their own communication policies. In short, then, the state had an immediate economic interest in TV and a long-term domestic and foreign policy interest in it.

Viewers and others

Finally, viewers, performers, writers, etc., also wished for TV's success; viewers because it had been promised to them as a technological marvel that would transform their lives, the others because it promised new employment opportunities. The extremely rapid expansion of TV receiver sales, especially in the early 1950s, attests eloquently to the public desire to own this technology and to have access to its content - from under 1 million homes with TV sets in 1949 to 44 million in 1959; i.e., a jump from 2.3% of all homes to 85.9% in ten years.

The expansion is all the more surprising when one considers the entire range of actual costs involved in the purchase of a TV receiver:

A television set was a sizeable investment. The typical 5-inch to 7-inch receiver cost for $375 to $500 in mid-1948 - several weeks' pay for the average worker. In addition, the buyer paid an installation fee ranging from $45 to $300, depending upon antenna requirements, and usually invested in a one-year service contract and a roof-top antenna, especially in cities more than 30 miles from the transmitter ... The small screen sizes led to a brisk market in large magnifiers, costing from $10 to $60 each, set in front of the receiver to enlarge the picture. 33

As for cultural workers, there can be no doubt that TV fulfilled its promise. It provided employment for quite literally hundreds of thousands. In 1949 TV network and station employees numbered 3,800; by 1980 the number was 78,300. It should be borne in mind that the employment figures do not include actors and actresses, scriptwriters, employees of Hollywood studios working for TV, directors, people involved in commercial production, TV equipment manufacturing and repair, and so on. TV kept its promise to these people as well.


As a result of this highly specific set of circumstances, the achieved form of TV in the United States is one of private commercial network broadcasting. In other countries, no less specific sets of circumstances have led to quite different forms of organisation. The main characteristics of the American form are:

1. TV is privately controlled and only minimally regulated by the state, although regulatory atrophy does not signify an absence of convergence with state interests;

2. through the sale of advertising time, TV pursues essentially commercial rather than political, religious, cultural, or other goals, although its commercial orientation obviously has implications beyond the mere pursuit of profit;

3. it consists of roughly 770 independent broadcasters dotted throughout the United States, the vast majority of whom are linked into one of the three major commercial networks such that they receive the bulk of their programming from a single centralised source;

4. the broadcast form of American TV determines specific types of content, entry level barriers, types of research, strategies for audience management, and a specific role or position for the audience.

The American TV industry consists of slightly more than 770 independent broadcasters, and it is they, and they alone, who are licensed by the FCC. The FCC regulations govern such matters as a station's frequency allocation (channel number), coverage area, and right of resale; they limit any affiliation contracts to two years; they forbid practices such as time optioning; they determine minimum and maximum charges for political advertising, and so on. They also govern in a very vague manner questions of programming. For example, the "fairness doctrine" states that broadcasters must "afford reasonable opportunity for discussion of conflicting views on issues of public importance". 34 The FCC also requires periodic station identification as well as the identification of any advertiser. Nonetheless, the FCC's two most important programming policy statements are contained in Public Service Responsibility of Broadcast Licensees (1946) also known as the "Blue Book", and in the Report on Network Broadcasting (1958), known as the Barrow report.

Neither of these documents contains rules or regulations, and most of their proposals have not been enacted. Instead, they contain suggestive guidelines which the prospective licensee may or may not choose to follow. Licence renewal is not dependent upon compliance with these guidelines although the FCC does tend to favour those licensees who can demonstrate that they have generally behaved in a fashion consonant with them. In other words, licensees who have provided some news and some public affairs programming, who have avoided excessive commercialism, who have served minority tastes, and who have provided some public service material stand a better chance of being renewed than those who have not.

Indeed, in 1970 the FCC issued a statement concerning licence renewal in which it stated that prospective licensees would not be considered just because they promised to do better than incumbent ones but only if the incumbent licensees could first be shown to have provided less than adequate service. Otherwise, merely adequate service was a guarantee of renewal. The extreme laxity of FCC regulations is attributable to two factors: 1) the historic American regulatory atrophy in the face of big business and 2) the fact that TV broadcasting falls under the free speech provisions of the American constitution such that rules cannot be made concerning its content.

Nonetheless, it was originally hoped that TV would be locally oriented and that independent broadcasters would produce significant amounts of local programming. This hope is enshrined in the FCC doctrine of "localism". With extraordinary alacrity, however, the independents fell under network control by affiliating themselves with one of the major networks.

If the affiliates have their reasons for joining networks, so have the networks for gaining affiliates. Networks are essentially clearing houses. They stand at the nexus of a configuration which includes program packagers. Exhibitors, advertisers, and audiences. The networks link these together in a highly specific manner. They do not hold licences from the FCC, and are consequently not regulated by it, except indirectly inasmuch as the FCC licenses the affiliates with which the networks must deal. The networks are much more subject to investigations by the Department of Justice, the American Congress, and to the suasion of various pressure groups.

The three major American networks get their programming in one of three ways: 1) they produce it themselves, 2) they ask outside producers to make it for them, or 3) outside producers who have already made suitable material offer it to them. Network news and information programming is an example of programming produced by the networks. Prime time shows such as I Love Lucy or Dallas are examples of shows produced on order by independent packagers, Desilu and Lorimar respectively. A National Geographic special and a Hollywood film such as Star Wars are examples of pre-made material which is offered to the networks or which they seek out.

The relationships between the three types of programming have altered considerably In the earliest days of TV, most programming was produced and broadcast live from the network studios in New York City. In those days, the production costs were relatively low and a single large advertiser would literally underwrite the entire operation: rent the studio space, hire the actors and writers, hire the production staff, and buy the network's advertising time. These shows frequently bore the name of their sponsor in their very titles: Texaco Star Theater, The Colgate Comedy Hour, The U.S. Steel Hour, Lux Video Theater, and so on. Here, the network was merely the exhibitor of the sponsor's production.

In this period, sponsors exercised enormous and often unwarranted control over programs. For example, Camel cigarettes would not allow the bad guys in its program, Man Against Crime (1949-1956), to be seen smoking, lest their product be associated with disreputable persons. Sponsors, however, also vetoed actors and scriptwriters suspected of communist sympathies if they thought their presence might offend consumers. Finally, by assuming total control of their programming, sponsors could bring disrepute upon the networks themselves.

Four factors, however, conspired to break sponsor control of programming: rising production costs, demographic expansion, alternate sources of program supply, and the quiz show scandals of the late 50s.

The demographic expansion of the audience brought with it an unforeseen change in viewer tastes. The single sponsors had typically invested in prestige dramatic anthologies which had appealed primarily to highly educated Northeastern viewers who had been amongst the first to purchase receivers and to justify their purchases by pointing to the quality of the programming.

By the late 1950s, however, the audience had expanded to include all socio-economic strata whose preponderance no longer consisted of middle class intellectuals. The majority taste had swung markedly to Westerns and game shows. In October 1950 the three top rating programs were Texaco Star Theater, Fireside Theater and Philco TV Playhouse; by October 1959 Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, Have Gun Will Travel were the three top-rating TV programs. 35

The single sponsors found themselves supporting a program type which garnered an increasingly small market segment. The idea began to dawn on them that they could reach a much wider audience not by underwriting a single offering but by scattering their commercials throughout many offerings, that is to say be becoming participating sponsors.

The demographic expansion and corresponding taste shift was accompanied by two other changes: the move from New York to Hollywood and the move from live to filmed broadcasts. I Love Lucy (1951-1961) was the first regularly-scheduled network program filmed for broadcast. Besides being an enormous ratings success, it also definitively established the advantages of the filmed format. Errors, which were quite common in live broadcasts, could be eliminated from filmed programs through editing and retakes, thereby giving the finished product a much more professional look. A filmed program required only one investment but could be reshown repeatedly, thereby becoming a virtually endless source of profits. A filmed program could be rerun in the summer when the stars took their holidays, thereby solving a summer scheduling problem and avoiding the expense of hiring on summer performers and staff. It could be bicycled (i.e., delivered by mail) to stations not yet connected to the network; it could be exported to foreign markets; and it could introduce greater variety to TV by allowing for location and other out-of-studio shooting. But most importantly of all once the initial investment had been made numerous subsequent episodes could be filmed using the same cast, characters, writers, production team, location, etc., at very little additional cost. Furthermore, the repetition of the format gave the audience the habit of tuning in week after week to the same channel at the same time.

The filmed program was, therefore, as much a training ground for audience loyalty as it was for production practices. Furthermore, Hollywood was literally teeming with seasoned professionals whose skills lay precisely in the production of filmed material. I Love Lucy was made by the small independent production company, Desilu; others soon sprang up, both larger and smaller. In 1954, both Walt Disney studios and Warner Brothers signed contracts to produce filmed episodic programming for TV. Soon Universal, Columbia, Paramount, United Artists, MGM and others had joined in.

Here, TV's insatiable appetite for new material coincided happily with Hollywood's production capacity. Though the networks tend to favour producers with whom they have been successful in the past, there is no hard and fast rule as to who can be an independent producer. For example the major Hollywood studios are all independent producers with the advantage of being able both to produce vast quantities of output and to weather a string of failures. On the other hand, a successful writer such as Norman Lear, can parlay his one big hit, All in the Family (1971-1981), into Norman Lear Productions and a series of prime time sitcoms. A former network executive can set him or herself up in business on the strength of promises received from colleagues. A talent agency, such as William Morris, can become a producer simply by virtue of controlling a hot star. 36

Nonetheless, the multiplication of program producers in the 1950s allowed networks to go over the heads of the single sponsors and compose the types of schedules they wanted. The biggest blow to single sponsorship, however, came in 1958 when it was revealed to a grand jury that the questions on such big money give-away shows as Twenty-One (1956-1958), The $64,000 Question (1955-1958), and The $64,000 Challenge(1956-1958) had been rigged so that some contestants could win over others. These revelations came at the same time as investigations into the payola scandals in the recording industry, and together seemed to demand swift action. The producers protested that the quiz shows were only entertainment, but they were cancelled anyway. The networks seized the opportunity to tighten their control over all programming. Henceforth, no program would be aired which had not been approved by the network. This meant that independent producers would supply programming to order and that any pre-existing material would have to be screened by the network first.

As audiences grew larger, so did potential profits. The networks well understood that a highly desirable audience could be constructed and maintained throughout an evening, week, or year by constructing the proper type of schedule. If programming decisions were to be left to single sponsors, networks might not be able to maximize their profits. It is indeed the case that a single sponsor program corresponds to the imperatives of the sponsor rather than those of the network. Consequently, the sponsor decides which type of audience it needs, and this may conflict with the network's wish to gain a specific other type of audience for its other advertisers or simply with its other available program material. The initiative for programming cannot lie with the sponsors and the quiz show scandals were the immediate opportunity for taking it back.

As a result of these four factors - rising costs, demographic expansion, multiplication of program suppliers, and quiz show scandals - the pattern of network programming and advertising changed markedly. For example, in 1957 single sponsor programs accounted for 42.1% of all prime time programs. By 1967, they accounted for only 2.5%.

These shifts have made participating sponsorship the norm and have given networks an unprecedented degree of control over programming. A participating sponsor merely buys time within a program and no longer has any influence over its star, content, writers, broadcast time, and so on. As a result, the sponsor benefits from reduced expenses and more flexible distribution throughout the broadcast schedule. The networks, however, benefit much more.

The networks can pick and choose from a number of suppliers. The range allows them to select only the programs which they think will be most successful. In this manner, they can construct specific demographic profiles for an evening, a week, or the whole network. Not only are the suppliers now forced to produce to network specifications, but their number also allows the networks to play them off against each other in order to strike the best possible deal.

Of course, the system is not nearly as rational as any of its players might wish. Though the networks do attempt to dominate program production, a hit series can given an independent producer extraordinary powers. Norman Lear, whose All in the Family was turned down by ABC and tested abysmally for CBS, is now virtually assured of a sympathetic hearing at any network and enjoys a remarkable degree of freedom. Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg likewise enjoy a privileged relationship with ABC for whom they produced an unending stream of hit shows in the 1970s: The Mod Squad, The Rookies, Starsky and Hutch, S.W.A.T., Charlie's Angels, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Hart to Hart, and others. These shows gave the network desperately needed ratings successes and resulted in commitments to Spelling and Goldberg to purchase virtually anything they produce. Grant Tinker is another independent producer who wields enormous power. In the 1960s, he was an executive with Universal and Twentieth Century Fox, but in 1970 headed up MTM Enterprises which produced The Mary Tyler Moor Show, The Bob Newhart Show, Rhoda, Phyllis The Tony Randall Show, Lou Grant, WKRP in Cincinnati, The White Shadow, Remington Steele, Hill Street Blues and numerous others. So great was the power of Tinker and the magic surrounding MTM, that in 1981 he became chair of the board and chief executive officer of NBC. In that position, he has peppered NBC's schedule with MTM products (Remington Steel, Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere, Duck Factory, Bay City Blues) and with the products of former MTM employees who have now become independent producers themselves (Taxi, Buffalo Bill, Cheers).37 On the other hand, an independent's power is often only as good as its last show and can evaporate as quickly as it arrived: Desilu no longer produces anything; Fred Silverman, one time programmer of CBS, architect of ABC's triumph of the mid-70s, and past president of NBC was by mid 1988 almost a spent force.

This raises, however, the question of why the networks do not simply produce all their own programming. The reasons are that they can off load the cultural equivalent of R & D costs to their suppliers, thereby minimising their own risk, and further that economies of scale are not a structuring factor for the TV industry. Indeed, the absence of economies of scale is more than indicated by the fact that production companies ranging in size from the giant Paramount Studios to the small and independent Stephen J. Cannell (The A-Team, Riptide) can be equally profitable. Prices and costs are constant for both, and, like ratings success, are unaffected by organisational structure Some production companies have inherited the organisational structure of the Hollywood studios where vertical integration and economies of scale were significant because studios directly controlled expenses and distribution. In TV, producers control neither of these and the value of their product is ultimately determined by the intangible of ratings success. Also, outside producers relieve networks of many related expenditures, provide them with a range of choice, and help to eliminate the accusation of monopolistic practices.

We may also add that with this system, the networks are able to compose schedules and project the image which best suit them. This is important because the networks do not want to appeal only to the specific market segment of specific single sponsors. They want to position themselves in the market in such a way as to capture the most demographically desirable market segments in as many ways as possible. They want to create a general overall good feeling about watching them and their shows. Consequently, the networks become the indispensable relay in a chain of interlocked interests: program producers must go to the networks to have their material aired, advertisers must go to the networks to gain audiences, audiences must go to the networks just to watch TV, and the affiliates must go to the networks in order to have content, maximize profits, and fulfill responsibilities.

As a result, programming - the entire range of techniques and strategies used to construct schedules which will attract and maintain specific types of audiences - becomes the networks' main function. Programming, in turn, breeds a demographic type of thinking and engenders strategies of audience management. For example, since American networks attract audiences in order to sell them to advertisers, they necessarily become concerned with the size and desirability of the audience and, consequently, with the specific program characteristics which constituted the audience. This means that some way must be found of determining the size of the audience, its appropriateness to the advertised product (i.e., its demographic characteristics), its reasons for watching, and the effectiveness of the advertising.

Clearly, in a system not organised around the sale of commodities, the constitution of large or demographically desirable audiences would not even pose itself as a problem in the same way. The value of success of a program could not be judged on the basis of audience size. Other criteria would have to be found: does the programming reach many different audiences; what is the quality of watching; does it involve the proper religious, political, social, artistic, or other values; etc. Indeed, strategies for engineering audience satisfaction, such as the very look of professionalism, suddenly cease to be values in themselves.

The Nielsen ratings are undoubtedly the best known method of audience measurement but there are others, Arbitron, Gallup, and the American Research Bureau (ARB) used during the crucial "sweep weeks" In addition, each of the networks conducts extensive in-house program testing. Indeed, Frank Stanton, president of CBS and associate of Paul Lazarsfeld, introduced one of the first social science audience measurement machines: the Stanton-Lazarsfeld Program Analyzer. ABC conducts its tests through Preview House and NBC leases unused cable channels to reach its subjects at home.38

These techniques of audience management range from audience surveys, ratings, the look of professionalism and high production values, to the use of sex, violence, and humour, the break-up of the audience and schedule into genres, the use of stars, certain types of stores, a certain filming and narrative style, and so on. The mainspring of American network TV is, therefore, the engineering of audience satisfaction. Its in-built need to keep abreast of the audience and to meet its interests or desires in some way is probably one of this system's genuine strengths. Indeed, in a system not requiring continual audience contact, there is no way of knowing whether viewers like what they watch or even if they watch at all. The obvious shortcoming of the American commercial network broadcast model is that the contact is all one-way. It is aimed not at greater viewer expression or empowerment but rather at making the audience as favourably disposed to the advertised commodities as possible. Each of the US networks, however, manages its audience somewhat differently, and their differences are related to their individual histories and networking patterns.

The Household Technology

American network broadcast TV is a highly special social form. As a broadcast form, it is entirely unidirectional, allowing centres, whether political or commercial, to reach out to large numbers of people but not allowing those people to reach back into the centres or to form lateral links amongst themselves. As a networked system, American TV can extend the unidirectionality profitably and simultaneously to an entire nation-state and beyond. This large-scale unidirectionality installed, therefore, pressures for audience management. Advertisers, broadcasters, networks producers all wanted to be sure that their product was actually being seen. Numerous strategies emerged to guarantee viewer attention.

However, not only do American TV networks bind people together in a one-way process for commercial and political reasons but they also install a split between privatisation and centralisation. Indeed, TV has two faces: a private and a public. The public face is the TV industry and all that it generates in terms of publicity, product, enthusiasm, equipment, and so on. In a sense, TV is a very public enterprise which captures virtually everyone's attention to a greater or lesser extent. Its private face, however, is the act of viewing which typically occurs in families and homes and involves private pleasures, memories, genealogies, and so on. Indeed, TV is a centrally produced and distributed mass medium whose consumption occurs only privately. This, of course, is the essence of the broadcast model.

The split between centralisation and privatisation is contained and reinforced in the very shape and application of the technology. Like radio, TV is a specific social application of technology. Absolutely nothing about the technology of TV requires that it be used for broadcasting, that it be networked, or that it be split between privatisation and centralisation. Indeed, one need look no further than the initial disputes between RCA and AT & T in the early 1920s in order to realise that broadcasting and networking need not have merged as we know them today.

Users could have been maximised instead of audiences, the telephone could have been the model, programming could have been relatively unimportant or radically other. That TV and radio should both have come to be so dominantly used for commercial network broadcasting is the result partly of corporate interests and patent disputes, partly of regulatory atrophy and the interests of the state, and partly of what Williams calls "mobile privatisation".39

Mobile privatisation and the broadcast form are remarkably similar. Both emerged out of the contradictory pressures of industrialism and capitalism which dissolved traditional forms of working and living and led to the dispersal of individuals, families, and job.

Within this context, mobility or freedom of movement became a necessity for reconnecting individuals with jobs and families. The extent to which mobility was already a social valued trait, however, should not be forgotten. The ideal of opening up unexplored territory, the relative looseness and freedom to travel of cowboys and explorers, the lifestyle of drifters, transients, and other wanderers, even the simple pleasure taken in just driving a car around, all speak to the urge for mobility which in many cases predates the disruption of industrial capitalism.

Nonetheless, the response to these disruptions was two-fold: a defence and improvement of immediate living conditions through an increase in leisure time and in wages. The concentration on immediate living conditions (wages and leisure), however, gave rise to the need for new forms of social contact:

There was some relative improvements in wages and working conditions, and there was a qualitative change ... between work and off-work periods. These two effects combined in a major emphasis on improvement of the small family home. Yet this privatisation, which was at once an effective achievement and a defensive response, carried, as a consequence, an imperative need for new kinds of contact. The new homes might appear private and "self-sufficient" but could be maintained only by regular funding and supply by external sources, and these, over a range from employment and prices to depressions and wars, had a decisive and often a disruptive influence on what was nevertheless seen as a separable "family project.

The family, and in a more general sense the entire realm of the private, emerges as the site of a struggle. It is to be projected, defended, and upheld, as well as molded, addressed, and positioned. Indeed, it is precisely the strategies of its defence which will also become those of its positioning. All forms of philanthropy, for example, not only protect the individual and the family, not only attest to a certain consciousness of suffering, but also provide means of surveillance and control, and attest equally to the consciousness of the threat posed to privilege and property by those less fortunate.

Furthermore, the split between centralised production and distribution and private home consumption is precisely what characterises broadcasting. It is a social technology for the conveyance of centrally produced entertainment and information to the home where it is consumed privately. The split is enshrined in the very pattern of ownership of TV and radio. They are household technologies intended for individual purchase and private home use; they are not intended for mass spectatorship like the movies. Furthermore, the site of their use has profound implications for their content.

However, this characteristic split between centralised production and distribution and private home consumption is to be found in a broad range of household technologies and services. For example, the home refrigerator depends entirely upon the centralised processing and distribution of food whose very packaging presupposes irregular purchases for family consumption and storage. The record-player is also intended for the private enjoyment of centrally produced and distributed music. The home is so tied into networks of services and supply that electricity, water, gas, and heating oil are likewise supplied by conduit and pipeline from centralised distributors for the maintenance of the individual homes. The networking of the home was recognised and celebrated as early as 1935 by Ernest H. Robinson who said:

The supply of music, drama, information and education in the home, in conditions parallel to the supply of water, gas and electricity, is a remarkable scientific and commercial achievement. And the fact that the condition obtains in all civilised communities irrespective of their adjacence to or removal from municipal centres ... is of enormous importance in world relationships.

This is certainly a powerful image of the network as a binder of people and territories, an equaliser of conditions, and creator of a common culture. The networking pattern is increasingly reproduced by media such as newspapers and the novel - both are increasingly intended for very wide distribution and private consumption. It would seem that all those artefacts whose production is industrially based and which tend to be described as "mass" or "popular" culture, participate in, urge on, and facilitate mobile privatisation.

In this respect, TV's status as the most outstanding exemplar of popular culture and of the mass media is not insignificant; and neither is the contempt in which both the mass media and the popular are held, which in turn has had an influence on the types of research that have grown up around TV. As any survey of the mass culture debate in the 1950s and beyond will reveal, studies of popular culture usually contain a barely veiled contempt for their object, which is seen as both vulgar and debasing. Oddly enough whereas the culture itself seems to have been designed with pleasure in mind, the studies of it seem almost universally to have been intended to produce a condemnatory self-consciousness. In this regard, the spectre of the "mass" itself, of its herd-like instincts, its uncertain but probably lower class origin, its availability for manipulation, and the urge to distinguish oneself from it, have not been unimportant. The way in which the mass can be reached or constituted outside of or beyond approved forms of social control is particularly troubling for these studies; but the very same possibility of escape also constitutes one of the incitements for the happy acceptance of broadcasting.

Contempt for the mass and the cultural forms which characterise it has usually been accompanied by the ascription to the consumers of popular culture of debilitating character traits. The traits themselves can no doubt be traced back to the origins of the concept of the mass, but it is difficult not to see in this ascription a certain level of class prejudice, the maintenance of distinctions between high and low art, and the idealisation of a non-existent past of genuine values and true beauty. As regards TV specifically, any number of studies participate in this contempt.

The first step in the contempt is the reduction of TV to a simple technology productive of effects. This deprives it of the classical expressive or humanistic qualities and makes possible the demonstration of its difference from high art. The insistence on its status as a technology further serves to make irrelevant its content or conditions of use and to suggest that the effects are in the machine itself. It is indeed, extremely difficult to escape this reading when McLuhan talks about: "The psychic and social disturbances created by the TV image, and not the TV programming", 41 or when Mander affirms:

there is no question that television does what the schizophrenic fantasy says it does. It places in our minds images of reality which are outside our experience. The pictures come in the form of rays from a box. They cause changes in feeling and ... utter confusion as to what is real and what is not. 42

Not surprisingly, the types of character traits which accompany such reasoning tend to be narrowly psychological and to require no more investigation than tabulation. The logical corollary to the reduction of TV to a machine is studies of televised violence, sex, or whatnot. These provide the ground for easily measurable psycho-sociological studies, for the demonstration of TV's exhaustively technological status, and for the advancement of policies of social control in the name of the social good. Sociological and psychological studies regularly worry about TV's negative effects. Indeed, it is the very presumption of negative effects and the possibility of finding them which motivate and justify the studies. Indeed, in their presumption of TV's technologically rooted powers, they are virtually identical to industry contentions of TV's value as an advertising medium. Everyone espouses effects studies - politicians, advertisers, social scientists - because everyone has a reason to believe in them.

Nonetheless, the split between centralisation and privatisation characteristic of household technologies also has implications for the relative amounts and internal organisation of leisure and work time, levels of disposable personal income, and changes in the marketing and manufacturing sectors of the economy. Household technologies presume a split between public and private, leisure and work, they presume the means with which to purchase them, and they presume a manufacturing shift towards their own production and the production of the goods which they advertise. It is to be expected that any successful new technology will tend to restructure the field of forces and interests which it enters and to call forth new institutions, habits, and practices to support it.

All these technologies are responses to new living conditions. They stand as the most visible examples of the new conditions and it has often been easy to argue that they themselves brought the conditions about. This, of course, is merely a restatement in other terms of the technological view. It continues to see all technologies, and especially TV, as productive of social and psychological effects, and elides the context into which they emerged. However, these technologies emerged as older forms of social organisation and contact were being eroded. The measures of erosion are the well-known ones of industrialisation and urbanisation, technological speed-up and the making obsolete of former specialisations and forms of knowledge, modes of social interaction and value systems associated with Gesellschaft rather than Gemeinschaft, and so on. The social form of broadcasting and the new household technologies are, to a very large extent, therefore, a product of the forces of disruption, and yet, also a response to them. They are part of the technological speed-up, they are the very markers of industrialisation and urbanisation and yet, they are also ways of ensuring social contact. Household technologies are a way of organising the forces of disruption and of making them acceptable and desirable; they are a way of expanding and reinforcing the home and private sphere against the claims of social change. They achieve this by making the home an autonomous region in which labour has been reduced to a minimum and in which material comfort, leisure, affective intensity, and intellectual richness have been maximised. To the extent that such developments have been seen as desirable, they have also been seen as gains for the individual, and they go a long way in explaining the rapidity and ease of the social diffusion of household technologies.

On the other hand, however, the very manner in which the home has been rendered autonomous has also tended to make it entirely dependent upon and subject to the disruptive pressures of the outside world. The dependence of the home upon centralised external sources allows those sources to reach into the home and subject it to the tiniest variations. Not only wars and depressions, but also distant strikes, weather conditions, changes in style, and so on, begin to acquire a personal dimension. The very qualities of material comfort, leisure, affective intensity, and intellectual richness which had marked the home as desirable begin to depend upon the types of comfort, the models of human relationships, and the categories of knowledge which the centralised sources of the outside world make available. Material comfort becomes the comfort of our common material culture, and leisure, affective intensity, and intellectual richness become that which is possible under those conditions. To that extent, then, household technologies also represent a continuation or reproduction of the very forces of disruption which called them into existence in the first place.

The split characteristic of all these technologies is, therefore, a compromise between the claims of new forms of social organisation and the need for new types of social contact. As such, we have yet another view of how all technologies already contain within them a model of society and of their own use, and how the power of any technology is its ability to make the social model which it represents acceptable and desirable.

The home refrigerator, one of the earliest household technologies and markers of the value of the private sphere, is not unlike broadcasting in that it provides a clear illustration of the option of the split between centralised production and distribution and private home consumption.

The refrigerator obviously marks the passage of the iceman, a specific example of the deskilling of a profession because of the technological change. It also marks, however, the end of the daily trip to the market since foodstuffs can now be stored longer and, consequently, bought in bulk. The absence of this daily trip, however, also means an altered relationship to the outside world: the local market declines in importance as a public meeting place, local information begins to circulate through other channels, and the type of information changes. There is less public control of one's alimentary or other habits.

Bulk buying, of course, heralds new forms of food processing and packaging, and beyond that, a massive reorganisation of the farm system. Farms cease to be small undertakings and food production comes increasingly to be rationalised at the national and international levels. More people can be supplied and their refrigerators expand their food repertories. Fruit and vegetables from all over the world, for example, can be kept in and out of season and this possibility stimulates research into methods to make them continually available.

The type of food storage provided by the refrigerator also coincides with the necessity of lunchtime sandwiches at work or at school and dispenses with the necessity of home meals. Though the refrigerator does not cause all these changes in any direct or obvious way it certainly implies a different use of time, a different relationship to the space of the community, a different range of tastes, and a reorganisation of food processing and distribution. It is a response to these changes and yet, it also facilitates them. No less is true of TV.

Entertainment: Unexpected and Hilarious Consequences

TV receivers are manufactured and sold for private home use. The privacy of the consumption as opposed to the publicness and centralisation of the production and distribution assigns a very specific position to TV viewers. To begin with, the public is actually constituted as an audience (or audiences) with specific demographic traits. It is not just that material is offered for view which then finds its audience but rather that these offerings imperatively demand an audience. Nothing is on TV without a reason. Without an audience, none of the material would have been made or offered; it, therefore, actively solicits viewer interest. However, it requires not just any audience but rather a very specific type of audience: large, affluent, and well-disposed.

Furthermore, demographic traits are not immutable human qualities possessed by viewers but rather ways of describing audiences. Consequently, an audience is an assemblage of demographic traits. However, since there exists a potentially infinite number of ways of describing the audience, demographic traits tend to refer more to the interests of the describers than to the nature of individual human viewers. It is noteworthy, then, that age, sex, and income are TV's major demographic descriptors. The obvious motivation of these traits is to match viewers with sponsors rather than to determine, for example, which are most likely to commit suicide or what their voting preferences might be. In all these cases, demographic traits could obviously be a recourse; in the case of TV, the traits are those which interest advertisers.

Additionally, since audiences are constituted on the basis of demographic traits, they are almost invariably the object rather than the subject matter of TV. For example, members of the public very rarely appear on TV except as game show contestants, statistics (people-on-the-street interviewees, poll results), sports spectators, or members of a studio audience. Consequently, when members of the public do appear on TV, it is generally not to advance an idea or point of view of their own, but again, as objects of the televisual discourse. Their limited presence corresponds to the mode of operation of TV. The public's role, at any rate, is to be home watching - not to be on TV. As a result, TV seeks to constitute an audience which, without necessarily being the typically passive and manipulated mass audience of many studies, is nonetheless not invited to have any direct influence on the forms or content of TV.

The particular position of the audience's exclusion as participant and inclusion as witness is well captured in the complaint that we cannot talk back to the TV set. Not talking back, the absence of a voice, is, however, not just an aspect of audience constitution but an actual design feature of the technology. TV in North America is simply not built to be interactive though it could be. The audience position is already designed right into the very technology. The very design of technology, therefore, already contains a theory of the role of the public.

Here, then, in its most undiluted form, is an example of how modem electronic TV is a large corporation's idea of fun, of how it is the application of the procedures of quality control and systems management not just to the technology but also to the audience. The complexity and costliness of electronic TV squeezed small entrepreneurs out of the market, and called forth and justified the expertise of large corporations. The large corporations, however, with the consent of the state and the public, did not produce an interactive technology open to all but rather a unidirectional one which excluded most people from its use but favoured big advertisers.

But how is this a theory of the audience or even a corporation's idea of fun? It is a theory of the audience because the technology of TV prescribes one position while making all others impossible. Furthermore, that position is maintained by strategies of audience management. It is a corporation's idea of fun because the position is made enjoyable and desirable as possible. For example because of its size and picture quality the TV set is intended for individual home use. However, it is also designed for enjoyment: it is easy to operate, the picture quality is entirely acceptable for home use and is even available in colour, it falls within a reasonably affordable price range, it comes in different shapes, sizes and styles. In other words, it is made about as enjoyable and desirable as a household technology can be. Additionally, its association with the home makes it even more desirable. TV belongs to the realm of leisure and privacy. To watch TV is emphatically not to work. It fills up the non-work hours: evenings (significantly called prime time), after school, late night, Sunday mornings, Saturday afternoons, and so on. In this respect, the notion of entertainment is crucial. TV amuses, distracts, and even informs, but always in an entertaining way. It does not set out to challenge fundamental notions of right and decency, to transform the social norm, to make people different from what they are. On the contrary, it moves firmly within the ambit of prevailing cultural norms. TV programs will come in many types so as to appeal to all tastes. They will feature favourite stars, they will be expensively produced, and so on. In short, entertainment is the name given to the entire range of strategies of audience management, and entertainment will be something the whole family can enjoy.

Entertainment, under each and all of its specific strategies, is important because it indicates the type of audience required. We have already seen how strategies of audience management such as the provision of national programming, high production values, well-known stars, surveys and ratings and so on, are intended to attract large, happy and demographically desirable audiences. These, however, are only the most obvious of strategies for to say simply that the audience must be happy, content, or well-disposed hardly provides a very fine grasp of the state of mind at issue. Presumably, there exist many types of happiness and many ways of achieving it. Consequently, it is the function of entertainment to specify the form of happiness appropriate to TV, which it does by providing lessons in correct behaviour and social worth. These lessons can be located in virtually all TV programs.

Entertainment is usually light. It is very difficult to imagine heavy or intense entertainment. Its lightness, however, does not mean that it is merely unchallenging or soporific. For example, science programs, the news, and many dramas attempt to be both serious and entertaining. Entertainment, therefore, is not reducible merely to mindlessness or escapism. It specifies an attitude, a way of attending to televisual material. Hill Street Blues provides an excellent example of the strategy of entertainment. It often raises questions of crime and punishment but does so in a manner calculated to avoid the dry ponderousness of real legal briefs or philosophical inquiry. The program is very fast paced and involves frequent shifts in locale, character, and situation, it concentrates on the personal lives of its colourful cast of police officers, it personalises the issues raised by moving constantly from the shortcomings of justice to success in romance, it is expensively photographed in a style more common to Hollywood film noir than to TV, it uses appealing stars, and so on. Its dense textured look and ostensible subject matter become themselves further entertainment strategies for flattering the intelligence and good taste of the audience and maintaining it week after week, year after year. Consequently, though it is true that TV does not seek out an intellectually superior or disdainful audience, neither does it seek out a totally vacuous one. Entertainment is intended to reach something between these two extremes, and there are good reasons for doing so.

TV does not seek to create a socially active audience because that would defeat its purpose. If everyone were engaged in community affairs or marching in picket lines or involved in committee work, there would be no one left at home to watch TV. TV, therefore, proposes a range of entertainments more engrossing and more convenient than other activities. Furthermore, it would also defeat TV's purpose if everyone were seriously dissatisfied with consumer culture and were committed to its overthrow. It is not in TV's interest to induce social agitation of a type which could lead to the irrevocable alteration of its structure, bases, or mode of operation. However, TV also needs an audience capable of recognising that it is traversed with needs and desires which are susceptible of at least partial satisfaction in the marketplace. Indeed, as advertisers well know, the better educated and more affluent the audience, the more refined, numerous, and expensive its tastes. As a result, TV seeks out and presumes a rational audience rather than a dully manipulable audience.

For example, the hero's (Tom Magnum's) self-mocking voice-overs in Magnum,P.I. are a very playful form of engagement with the audience which presupposes the audience's familiarity with the genre and ability to handle the ironic distance introduced into the narrative. A dully manipulable mass might not be expected to recognise the irony or understand the distance, let alone the multiple plot structures of St. Elsewhere, Lou Grant, and Hill Street Blues, or the relative sophistication of the repartee in Cheers, or the highly elliptical cutting and dialogue of Miami Vice, and so on. Once again, although TV may not take as its objective the intellectual betterment of its audience, it does not seek its intellectual debasement either. TV needs an audience which is interested and attentive but not alienated or insulted; emotionally moved and socially concerned but not moved to action or concerned with changing the world. In short, TV seeks to produce satisfaction with itself, and its main strategy for achieving that goal is entertainment. Entertainment seeks to instill the global judgement that we are better off to have what we have than not; that this which is known is better than that which is unknown. This presumes not a passively stupid audience but quite the contrary, an audience intimately acquainted with the known, familiar with its nuances, and capable of playing with its variations. The position which TV constructs for the audience, therefore, is one of simultaneous involvement and disengagement. The audience should be involved in TV and disengaged from effective action, at least in the time frame designated as leisure.

This position is included in the very technological structure of TV. The audience is included as a necessary element of TV's functioning - it is that towards which all of TV's efforts are directed - but it is excluded from any active role - it does not produce content, appear on the screen, or have a voice. Entertainment fills the void of the exclusion, it proposes to act for the audience, to be responsive to its needs and desires, to speak for it and in its own voice.

This is why TV executives are so given to saying that they only give the people what they want. Furthermore, they have the facts and figures to prove that audiences watch Dallas in droves but positively shun educational programming. In one sense, a network schedule - its flow, variety, pleasures and boredoms, constancy - can be understood as the TV industry's way of saying: 'Don't go away, this is at least as interesting as the real world. Don't do something else, you'll find out more about it here. Don't even change the channel, we'll change the pictures for you'.

Entertainment, therefore, constructs a position of simultaneous inclusion and exclusion. As a result, it is not aimed at stirring deep passions which might engender discontent but at gaining consent, at engineering satisfaction Hence, entertainment emerges as a very specific type of happiness. Entertainment is more modest than pleasure or delight, it only hints at marvel and wonder, and it is certainly not any form of unbridled passion. Instead, entertainment on American network broadcast TV means quite specifically the combination of the spectacular and the familiar, of the exotic and the banal.

The most outstanding examples of this combination are the variety shows, and the most exemplary variety show was undoubtedly The Ed Sullivan Show. Every Sunday night from 1948 to 1971, the show combined the singular gracelessness and idiosyncratic speech patterns of Ed Sullivan with the Moscow circus, a ballet company and animal tricks, German opera and fading comedians. Here were combined precisely the familiar and the spectacular, the banal and the exotic. The promise of entertainment, then, is to make the audience's life both spectacular and familiar. It elevates the audience to the level of the spectacular and makes the spectacular seem familiar. It is both special and comfortable, like TV itself.

Most TV programs, furthermore, repeat exactly this strategy. The Tonight Show (with John Carson) offers viewers nightly the spectacle of apparently important people - celebrities - engaging in the most banal of conversations. Crime shows combine the spectacle of criminality - the thrill of car chases, explosions, arrests, the underworld - with the banality of law and order, the spectator's return to the world of normalcy. News programs specialise in combining reassuring on-camera readers with events of the world - and usually close on the most banal of information: local news, weather, and sports. The game show also offers the spectacle of ordinary people being made special through riches and prizes. Sitcoms delight in the spectacle of outrageous occurrences in familiar surroundings. In fact, the very formula which describes the position constructed by entertainment has been provided by the sitcom and it is: "Lucy goes on a trip with unexpected and hilarious consequences". The formula captures perfectly the combination of the banal ("Lucy goes on a trip") and the spectacular ("with unexpected and hilarious consequences").

Entertainment is also, however, an invitation to correct behaviour and the recognition of social worth. Indeed, by offering only certain types of enjoyment rather than the entire range of possible enjoyments - by offering only certain types of spectacle and only certain types of familiarity - TV is proposing a specific register of enjoyment, a certain regulation of pleasure. For example, when sitcom characters muddle through their travails and end the day on a happy note, there can be no doubt that a lesson has been provided not in how to deal with outrageous circumstances, but in what constitutes proper and socially acceptable behaviour. When criminals are arrested, normalcy is reaffirmed. When game show contestants win riches the mirage of a more desirable lifestyle is held out.

Clearly, one of the major constraints upon TV entertainment is the site of its consumption - it must quite literally be something the whole family can enjoy, and can, consequently, be neither too violent nor too sexy, too long nor too unvaried, and so on. In this sense, TV has inherited the family viewing audience of the movies in the 1940s. Beyond that, however, because it constructs a position of simultaneous inclusion and exclusion, involvement and disengagement, TV entertainment also suggests which types of inclusion and involvement are correct and socially valuable. This is a structural necessity of entertainment. If the audience is to be excluded from active involvement in the world and in the content of TV, then any content must seek to direct its energies elsewhere and to make the position desirable and comfortable. Typically, therefore, since it is an advertising medium, entertainment directs audience activity to the spheres of consumption and lifestyle.

These spheres are constructed according to the same demographic categories as audiences and the hope is that the audience assembled for a specific show will also be interested in the commodities advertised in that show. Furthermore, the activities of consumption and lifestyle imply a continued interest in TV, a continual return to it for information and tips on the latest trends and the appropriateness of one's behaviour.

Lessons in consumption and lifestyle run the gamut from the blatant ones of game shows to the much more subtle ones of the sitcom. It is banal to observe that a game show such as The Price is Right depends upon total and joyous immersion in consumer culture. In order to win prizes, contestants must be able to quote correctly the price of commodities ranging from dish-washing liquid to ceiling fans. Naturally, any contestant who overbids by even one dollar, the ultimate consumer sin in the age of the shopping bargain, is automatically disqualified.

Another game show, Family Feud, requires contestants to answer questions not on the basis of what they themselves think is right but rather in terms of what they think most other Americans would answer to the same question. The very fact that prizes could be awarded and games based upon intimate knowledge of the marketplace and the ability to resemble others as much as possible, surely attests to the extent to which the ideology of consumption and the pursuit of the right lifestyle have passed into the currency of everyday life. Indeed, knowledge of the values of consumption and lifestyle are absolutely essential just to understand these shows, let alone to enjoy them.

Sitcoms, for their part, also provide much more elaborate lessons in behaviour and social worth. It matters not whether we are dealing with MASH, All in the Family, I Love Lucy, or Taxi, sitcoms are always about middle class families, either real or metaphorical. There is no such thing as an aristocratic sitcom, and if such a show did feature aristocratic characters, the humour would derive from their non-conformity with middle class values. The Beverly Hillbillies (1962-1971) illustrates this proposition in reverse: entirely classless characters end up in Beverley Hills. 43


The sitcom is the consummate suburban entertainment: neither too vulgar nor too staid, neither too outrageous nor too banal, neither too slow nor too swift. It is a middle brow form and the family within it is crucial because it mirrors the family presumed to be watching. Indeed, one of the most important locations in all sitcoms is some communal room or space where all the characters assemble and interact. Furthermore, the sitcom family and its members typically face the problems and pressures of real suburban families: Leave It To Beaver (1957-1963), for example, can easily be understood as dealing with the problem of growing up with permissive, comprehending parents; Cheers (1982-present) is about the difficulties of employment and romance on the job; The Mary Tyler Moore Show (19701977) is about the travails of the single woman in an era of expanding feminist consciousness; Bewitched (1964-1972) is about the problems of the suburban housewife who can be anything she wants - the humour rapidly derives from her struggle to control her metaphysical purchasing power (witchcraft) and remain a normal middle class housewife; The Bill Cosby Show (1984-present) is about affluence: what does it mean to be young, black, and rich? The point about sitcom problems, of course, is that they are trivial and blown out of proportion: the combination of the banal and the spectacular. Nothing dramatic ever happens: a girl falls in love with a boy but cannot get his attention, a letter is delivered to the wrong address, a character takes a quirky view of the world.

Their very banality allows them to propose a solution to the problems of middle class life: take it with humour, be of good nature, laugh. Of course, the proposed solution avoids any substantive attempt to deal with the world but that is precisely its point. It is supposed to fold back upon itself and bind the audience to the world of sitcom, redirect it to the world of middle class comfort presented on TV. It is precisely the explicit role of the family in sitcom, the clear articulation of middle class values, and the picture of a world marked by the comfort of consumption and a middle-class lifestyle which make situation comedy one of the central genres of American TV.

We have seen so far that entertainment is the global designation for strategies of audience management. Some of the strategies monitor the audience and are the basis for adjustments in programming: ratings, surveys, program testing, and other forms of research. Some strategies amass audiences and are the very stuff of programming: the look of professionalism, high production values, the use of appealing stars, the fragmentation of the schedule into genres, flattery, the use of sex, violence, humour, and programming theories (such as flow, quality, least objectionable programming). Still some other strategies are embedded in the programming but seek to regulate the audience, to construct a position for it from which it will not wish to escape: the use of narratives which fold back upon themselves, the combination of the spectacular and the familiar, the presentation of certain types of knowledge, attitudes, situations, pertaining mostly to consumption and lifestyle.

TV entertainment seeks not a dully manipulable mass but a reasonably well-educated, affluent audience capable of responding to its suggestions. The specificity of the audience is to be a demographic construct and to be situated in a position of simultaneous inclusion and exclusion. The position is subtended and foreseen by the modes of availability and deployment of TV, by its technological design, and by the split between centralisation and privatisation.

TV is purchasable as a household technology intended for individual family use. Its pattern of networking seeks precisely to produce the large, affluent audience which is the object of advertisers. Networks also provide the means of producing the appropriate programming. Its technological design further foresees individual use and excludes any interactive capacity. This exclusion, however, is characteristic of a broad range of social and cultural activities. Indeed, families can no more determine the types of foodstuffs which should be made available for the refrigerator than they can influence the content or format of TV. The split between centralisation and privatisation is, therefore, not unique to TV. Like all household technologies, TV is a product of this split. Most mass media radio, newspapers, literature, movies, advertising - also address the public in this manner: unidirectionally from a centralised source. Ultimately, TV is only part of a much larger pattern and before wishing to change TV in order to change society, we would be well advised to ask whom this pattern benefits and if it does not benefit each of us, how it is maintained, what types of power it disseminates, and why we should change it.

The fact that we cannot 'talk back' to TV is both a design feature and an aspect of audience constitution. Furthermore, the very ideal of 'talking back' is difficult to define - who would talk back, what would be said, how would it be said - and this difficulty is itself highly significant. Without the ability to talk back, viewers are in a position of total acceptance or total rejection included and excluded. But what would it really mean to be able to talk back to TV? What sort of flexible programming structure would that require? Indeed, would it do away with programming and networks altogether? Furthermore, if there were no networks would we even want to talk back? What levels and sorts of investment would talking back involve? What if the enjoyment derived from TV were possible only on the condition of not talking back or if the desire to talk back only existed because of the particular type of TV? Clearly, these questions imply a quite different form of social organisation, a different direction of technological research, and different social applications. A specific design feature is also an ideological statement. The alternative habits, practices, and institutions which would support a different understanding of the audience, which would give a tangible meaning to these questions, and which would, presumably, result in a different TV set design, simply do not exist. In their absence, how could even the most deliriously interactive video installation, to take only one example, possibly avoid attributing to its potential audience many of the same characteristics that network TV attributes to its own audience? How could it avoid excluding the viewer from the processes of content and format definition, how could it avoid putting the viewer in a situation of total acceptance or rejection, just as network TV does? The power of American network broadcast TV is not so much that it has stamped these questions out, it is rather than by making us love it, by making us approve of the model of its own use, it has made these questions irrelevant. By getting us to like it, has defined the parameters of the thinkable.

This is a corporation's idea of fun because it provides the public with forms of satisfaction - enjoyment, entertainment - which do not disturb the bases of the corporation's power or activity and which indeed serve to strengthen it. The happiness specified by TV is entertainment. Entertainment regulates pleasures and proposes a range of commodities and behaviour patterns. In short, entertainment constitutes audiences so they can have fun - the broad range of consumer goods and associated behavior patterns which defines wealth, progress, and happiness for us today. Unlike happiness, however, which describes a state of being, fun describes a state of ownership - it is something one has. TV, as the main advertising medium and central disseminator of information and entertainment is also the site of the struggle for fun. Procedures of systems management and quality control are applied not only to the technology of TV but also to the audience of TV: fun is the extreme limit of the audience's position.


A more extended version of this paper appeared in the McGill University Graduate Communications Program, Working Paper Series, Montreal, 1986. For more information on the Working Papers of the Graduate Communications Program write to The Managing Editor, Graduate Communications Program McGill University, 815 Sherbrooke St West, Montreal PQ H3A 2K6, Canada.

1. Business Week, "TV's gain is radio's loss", 15 April 1950, p.90.

2. Erik Barnouw, Tube of Plenty: The Evolution of American Television (New York: Oxford University Press, 1975), p.114.

3. Business Week, "1939 - Television Year", 31 December 1938, p.26.

4. John Porterfield and Kay Reynolds eds., We Present Television (New York: Norton, 1940), pp.264,267.

5. Phillip Kerby, The Victory of Television (New York: Harper, 1939), pp.91 &

6. Fortune, 1939, p.162.

7. Joseph H. Udelson, The Great Television Race (Alabama: University of Alabama Press, 1982), p.98.

8. In Porterfield and Reynolds, Pp.57-58.

9. Proceedings of the IRE, in Udelson, p.45.

10. Kerby, p.88.

11. David Sarnoff, Looking Ahead: the Papers of David Sarnoff (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1968), p.102.

12. Sarnoff, p.105.

13. Frank C. Waldrop and Joseph Borkin, Television: A Struggle for Power (New York: Morrow, 1938; repr. Arno Press, 1971), p.3.

14. "Television: The New Cyclops", Business Week, 10 March 1956, p.91.

15. Sarnoff, p.114.

16. Robert C. Bitting, Jnr., "Creating an Industry", Journal of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (14 November 1965), p.1023.

17. Sarnoff, p.110.

18. Bitting, p.1022.

19. R.E. Jones, in Porterfield and Reynolds, p. 274.

20. Robert E. Lee, Television: the Revolution (New York: Essential Books 1944), p.224.

21. In Porterfield and Reynolds, p.64.

22. Porterfield and Reynolds, p.271.

23. Lee, pp.221-222.

24. Interiors, 1951, pp. 62, 74.

25. Interiors, 1943, p.21.

26. Interiors, 1943, p.29.

27. "House Lighting Tailored for Television" Architectural Record, v.102 (November 1947), pp.126-7; E.W. Commery, "How Do You Light A Room for Television?", Architectural Records, v.106 (November, 1949), pp.145-148; and "Television - Its Hypnotic Screen Will Change Our Approach to Designing Living Room and Making Love" Architectural Forum, v.89, n.3 (September 1948), pp.118-120. 28. Architectural Forum, p. 118.

29. Barnouw, p.100.

30. John Ellis, Visible Fictions (London: Routledge Kegan Paul, 1982), p.118.

31. From a 1944 speech, in Sarnoff, p.106.

32. Richard Bunce, Television in the Corporate Interest (New York: Praeger, 1976).

33. Christopher H. Sterling and John Kittross, Stay Tuned: A Concise History of Broadcasting (Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth, 1978), p.290.

34. See Sterling and Kittross, pp.425-429.

35. Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows 1964-Present (New York: Ballantine, 1979), pp.802,804.

36. See Todd Gitlin, Inside Prime Time (New York: Pantheon, 1983), pp.115-156.

37. See Gitlin, pp.115-142.

38. See Gitlin, pp.31-46.

39. Raymond Williams, Television: Technology and Cultural Form (Glasgow: Fontana, 1974).

40. Ibid, P.27.

41. Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964), p.272.

42. Jerry Mander, Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television (New York: Morrow, 1978), p.111.

43. See Paul Attallah, "Situation Comedy and the 'Beverley Hillbillies': the unworthy discourse", Working Papers Series, McGill University, Graduate Communications Program, Montreal, 1983. Reprinted in Willard Rowland and Bruce Watkins eds., Interpreting Television (Sage: Beverly Hills, 1986).

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