A History of the Origins of Television
For the first half of the twentieth century, the dominant media in western society had been newspapers, radio and cinema. Then, in the early 1920s, a man named John Logie Baird created the first television, which has since become the dominant media of the second half of the twentieth century. Television has had an immense impact on human society in many forms including sociality, knowledge, experience and leisure.
After the first experimental broadcasts in America in the 1920s, the British Broadcasting Corporation was set up in 1922, however television broadcasting did not begin until 1936 when an estimated 23,000 people saw the first ...view middle of the document...
A consumer society was emerging with developments in popular culture and a youth orientated society.
The single biggest factor for the emergence of a consumer society was the post war economic boom. The Conservative Party using Keynesian economic policies introduced by Labour had just come into power. This meant a mixed economy based on a mixture of both free markets and government assisted growth. A boom in technology coincided with improvements in the standard of living and a society wanting to consume and spend money. There was a growing campaign for commercial television and in 1954 the Television Act ended the BBC monopoly and created ITV which was funded entirely by advertising. Regulated by the independent television authority (ITA), it had its own news and offered services the BBC did not, such as a regional focus [HOLLAND: 13].
In order to attract advertisers ITV had to give the people what they wanted. By 1957 through a mixture of popular programmes, open and inquisitive news and reporting on elections, ITV had gained three-quarters of the broadcasting audience. By 1960 ITV had made a ten million-pound profit [HOLLAND: 14]. The BBC feared that it would have to abandon ‘public service broadcasting’ in order to compete with ITV.
However the 1962 Pilkington report praised the BBC for its quality and savagely criticised commercial television by stating that ‘ITV’s approach was a cultural decline seen as an Americanisation of Britain’ [HOLLAND: 16]. The 1964 Television act enabled the BBC to create another channel in BBC 2. This new BBC channel pioneered colour television on its higher quality signal [HOLLAND: 17]. This increased the pressure on ITA to continue to broadcast quality programmes such as world in action.
The period from 1964 – 1979 became known as the golden age of broadcasting where the BBC became more populist and ITV offered a more public service forming a ‘cosy duopoly’ [Williams, 1998: p.128]. However the cosy relationship began to breakdown as the economy began to decline. The 1973 oil crisis left the economy at a point of crisis, leading to a return to a conservative government and with it, in 1979, Margaret Thatcher as prime minister. Thatcher was a great believer in the free...