Smst216-08b lecture 2 (Week 30) Part I: The History of Television

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SMST216-08B Lecture 2 (Week 30)

There are two major strands of television history

  • The American history, concentrating on inventors and the development of television technology [video: Television: Window to the World]

  • The British history, concentrating on the development of broadcasting institutions eg Asa Briggs, The First 50 Years of the BBC

  • Note: there are two general histories of television in NZ: Robert Boyd-Bell (1985), New Zealand Television: The First 25 Years, and Patrick Day (2000), Voice & Vision: A History of Broadcasting in New Zealand. See also Lealand & Martin (2001) Chapter 1

Who invented television?

  • Three hundred is, in fact, a conservative figure since it took nearly a century of research before Milton Berle could show up in your living room in drag

  • TV historian Jeff Kisseloff

  • (Q. Who is Milton Berle?)

The inventors of television

  • Philo T. Farnsworth (USA) - scanning lines

  • Vladimir Zworykin (USA) -cathode ray tube

  • John Logie Baird (Britain) - mechanical transmission of images over wire

  • The first TV remote (called “Lazy Bones”) was developed by Zenith Electronics (US) in 1950

Television history timelines

  • Broadcast History Timeline

    • History of Television Timeline
    • History of Television in New Zealand

The American model of television

  • From the early 1950s, television networks grew out of radio networks, controlled by large corporations (NBC,CBS,ABC)

  • • Minimal regulation/government control (Federal Communications Commission)

  • • primary content of television was domestically-based entertainment

  • •primary purpose and funding of television was commerce (delivering audiences to advertisers)

  • [video: The People’s Century; Picture Power]

The British model of television

  • Television was modelled on state-owned radio (BBC), with a strong public service remit (eg the BBC’s original remit to enlighten, elevate and educate)

  • Television was initially funded by fees; a mix developed with the introduction of commercial television (ITV) in 1955

  • British television developed as a duopoly + Channel 4, Channel 5 + pay-TV added from the 1980s

  • External regulation of commercial TV + self-regulation of the BBC (Charter)

But the distinctions are blurring…

  • The BBC is still regarded as a public service broadcaster, funded by a general broadcasting fee (120 pounds annually), to inform, educate and entertain. Nevertheless, it makes substantial profits from programmes it exports (eg $NZ300+ million from Teletubbies), and formats it owns and exports (eg Dancing With the Stars)

The Australian model of television

  • 1956: Public service, state-funded broadcaster (ABC) developed from public radio + two commercial channels.

  • Commercial channels developed into Nine Network and Seven Network; Nine Network added in 1970s

  • 1979 Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) set up; 1990 Imparja TV; regional TV

  • Satellite critical to national channels; digital switch-off 2012; regulation thru ACMA

  • Pay TV : Foxtel, AUSTAR, Optus

The New Zealand model of television

  • • grew out of state-owned radio; Television New Zealand remains state-owned television (currently a Crown-owned company)

  • • from the beginning, there was a mix of public service broadcasting (fee) and commercial income (TVCs)

  • [video: 40 years of ONE)

  • • introduction of privately-owned channels (TV3) in 1988 and pay TV (Sky) in 1990

Part II: Television in New Zealand in 2008

  • Television in New Zealand, in 2008, remains a mix of public service objectives (a prime responsibility of Television New Zealand), and commercial interests (overseas-owned channels + pay TV ). There are structures and processes unique to television in this country.

  • Set-top box, commercial-free digital service (Freeview) began in 2007, screening free-to-air channels, including TVNZ6 and TVNZ7

Television New Zealand

  • A Crowned-Owned Company (CROC), operating TV ONE and TV2 under the TVNZ Charter. The transmission service BCL is now operated separately, as Kordia

  • Funded primarily through advertising revenue (90%) + Charter funding from the Govt ($16m in 2005) + programme subsidies through NZOA and Te Mangai Paho

  • 67% share of the FTA audience (2007). Dominates ratings (esp TV ONE)

  • Pays dividend on profits to Govt

TV3 and C4

  • Majority shareholder formerly CanWest Global Communications (Canada). 90% takeover by Australian private equity firm (Ironbridge Capital) in 2007. Financed through advertising + NZOA programme subsidies

  • • Operates TV3 (FTA channel, with younger demographic) + C4 (music video + programming strands). 19% FTA audience share (2006)

  • [CanWest also owns a large share of the NZ radio market (RadioWorks, Radio Pacific, More FM)

Prime TV

  • Previously owned and operated by Prime Networks Australia; purchased by Sky Network Television in 2005. Financed through advertising revenue. Up to 5% FTA audience share.

  • Sky uses Prime for FTA replays of the significant sporting fixtures it has exclusive rights to (rugby)

Maori Television Service

  • State-funded national channel,with a brief to preserve and promote te reo Maori . Launched June 2004, and attracts between 50-70% non-Maori viewers, broadcasting up to 8 hours daily.

  • Programming is 90% locally produced

  • Second channel Te reo launched in 2008

Sky Network Television

  • Pay TV service, providing 80+ channels of terrestrial + satellite digital service + radio channels.. 78% owned by Independent News Ltd (INL)* + 8% Commercial Bank of Australia. In 46% of NZ h/hs; subscribers=720,919, Dec 2007 ), After years on continuous losses, Sky made $35m profit in 2004. Currently 5% of income comes from advertising. 23% of the total NZ television audience (2006); 19% share of 20-54 year olds (April 2008) Introduced PVR (personal video recorders) as MySky in 2006; currently adding HDTV

  • * 44% owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation

Other television …

  • Regional television eg NowTV, CTV (Christchurch), Nelson (Mainland TV). Channel 9 (Dunedin)

  • Community television eg Triangle (Auckland and Wellington)

  • From 2005, some funding available from New Zealand On Air to regional TV

Funding Agencies (1)

  • New Zealand On Air (under Ministry of Culture and Heritage) est. 1989, with responsibilities for social and cultural objectives of broadcasting (radio + TV). Directly funded from Treasury ($127.5m in 2008/9; 64% allocated to funding TV programmes). Contestable funding, concentrated on ‘threatened’ or ‘non-commercial’genres (drama/comedy, children’s, documentaries). Does not fund news/current affairs nor sport.

  • Broadcasting slot required to receive NZOA funding.

Funding Agencies (2)

  • Te Mangai Paho (under Te Puni Kokiri). Promotes Maori language and culture through providing funds for programming--primarily to Maori Television Service (more than $20m annually, with 50% te reo Maori targets)

Regulation Agencies (1)

  • Broadcasting Standards Authority (under Ministry of Culture and Heritage) . Est. 1989. Govt-funded, complaints-based content regulator. Regulates radio and TV, through codes of broadcasting practice, developed in conjunction with industry. Deals with around 200 formal complaints annually (average upheld=21%). Conducts audience research (as does NZOA)

Regulation Agencies (2)

  • Advertising Standards Authority. Industry-based, self-regulatory body responding to advertising complaints. Incorporates Advertising Standards Complaints Board and Advertising Standards Appeals Board (both with public members)

To conclude ….

  • The major avenues for funding television are:

  • •advertising (buying airtime, sponsorship, naming rights)

  • •fees or taxes (eg the former Public Broadcasting Fee)

  • •direct government funding eg MTS and NZOA in NZ; ABC in Australia)

  • •funding mixes (eg TVNZ)

  • •Pay TV--pay service, channel subscriptions

The manner in which television is funded determines what kind of television eventuates

  • commercial television eg American networks NBC/ABC/CBS/Fox; Channels 7/9/10 in Australia; TV3/C4/Prime in NZ

  • public service television eg BBC, ABC (Australia), NHK (Japan), YLE (Finland)

  • pay TV eg Foxtel (Australia), Sky (UK), Sky (NZ)

  • mixed systems (public funding + advertising) eg Television New Zealand

The current NZ model (1)

  • In effect channels are settling into three types:

  • Type 1 comprises the major free-to-air national channels (TV One, TV2, TV3)

  • Type 2 consists of the smaller broad-service channels with mainly national reach (Prime, Maori Television)

The current NZ model (2)

  • Type 3 comprises channels broadcasting regionally and/or to special interest audiences, whether on UHF, Freeview or pay TV platforms (such as the 16 regional channels, C4, TVNZ6, TVNZ7, Juice TV, Stratos, Parliament TV, Alt TV)

  • The Sky TV subscription services collectively of course is a major competitor to the Type 1 channels in particular, but its individual channels mostly fall into Types 2 and 3, with the possible exception of sports.

  • From: New Zealand On Air Statement of Intent 2008-11, Wellington: 2008

The future of television?

  • *The Personal Video Recorder (PVR) aka Digital Personal Video Recorder (DVR) or MySky

  • The PVR makes timeshifting much easier, can ‘pause’ live TV, provide instant replay, and the ability to skip advertising .

  • *Analogue TV switch-off (NZ 2012?; USA 2009; Finland 2007),complete shift to digital TV

  • *New forms of delivery eg TV on mobiles, webTV


  • What other factors have shaped the history and development of television in New Zealand?

  • Is it possible to fund television differently from the methods described here?

  • What might be other ‘futures’ for television?

  • What dilemmas does broadcasting regulation face in the near and distant future?

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