Question

How and why did the daily rhythms of broadcast television develop...

How and why did the daily rhythms of broadcast television develop in the 1950s? What were the main characteristics of daytime and primetime, in terms of shows, audiences, and advertising? How were they different? Please use examples from the course screenings to illustrate.

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How and why did the daily rhythms of broadcast television develop in the 1950s? 
Daily rhythms of broadcast television develop in the 1950s because the only way the networks had to distribute the shows to the rest of the nation was to point a film camera at a television screen and convert video to film. These 16mm films, known as kinescopes, were then duplicated and shipped to the few affiliated stations for broadcast later. By necessity, most programming was local, and cooking shows, wrestling and cartoons took up most of the broadcast day.
The networks became true networks when AT&T finished laying a system of coaxial cables from coast to coast. Coax, the now familiar cables the run from cable TV wall outlets to today's tuners has enough bandwidth, or electrical carrying capacity, to transmit hundreds or even thousands of telephone calls as well as television signals.

 

What were the main characteristics of daytime and primetime, in terms of shows, audiences, and advertising? How were they different? Please use examples from the course screenings to illustrate.


In 1950s, television became the most dominant form of media, overtaking radio and newspapers, and garnering their advertising revenues. Until the fall of 1948, regularly scheduled programming on the four networks the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS; later CBS Corporation), the National Broadcasting Co. (NBC), and the DuMont Television Network, which folded in 1955 was scarce. On some evenings, a network might not offer any programs at all, and it was rare for any network to broadcast a full complement of shows during the entire period that became known as prime time (8-11 PM, Eastern Standard Time). Sales of television sets were low, so, even if programs had been available, their potential audience was limited. To encourage sales, daytime sports broadcasts were scheduled on weekends in an effort to lure heads of households to purchase sets they saw demonstrated in local appliance stores and taverns the venues where most TV viewing in America took place before 1948.

Television advertisements projected fantasies about their products and how people would become happy and successful with these products. Commercials were carefully packaged and prepared. Advertisers also sponsored specific television programs to get mention and some publicity. However, some unethical advertisers used dishonest means to raise viewership rates for the shows they sponsored. It was discovered that the some of the most popular quiz shows, including the famous "$64,000 Question" and "Twenty-One", had been rigged to make them more exciting. In 1952, television advertising was first used for presidential campaigning, by Dwight Eisenhower. Soon, all future presidential candidates relied on television advertising as part of their strategy.
The TV Guide was started in 1953, and has since become an American institution. It was designed to condense all television program information into a small digest-size periodical. Highlights of television shows, gossip, profiles and general information was included. TV Guide has been one of the most popular magazines in U.S. history ever since.

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