Assignment 9 – Broadcast

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This characterization certainly holds true for television broadcasting, and in a smaller sense still applies to radio broadcasting. Radio is no longer the “very center” of our society, but it does still include commercial broadcasting that is integrated into cultural broadcasting. Television is definitely an integral part of American culture, and it is flooded with advertising. Modern television broadcasting is similar to radio broadcasting in the ‘30’s and ‘40’s in that it is often considered to be an invasion of the privacy of the home and family. Czitrom describes people thinking of radio advertising as “a sort of psychological burglar in the home” (77). The strong influence of advertisers on radio broadcasting led to widespread censorship within the national networks: “virtually any unorthodox economic view brought down the hand of censorship” (82). I would like to think that there is a difference between this strong censorship of radio programming and the freedom of modern programming. For both television and modern radio, it seems that there is a wide range of political and economic viewpoints that are represented and are not subject to censorship. News programs seem to uphold objectivity by portraying all sides of an issue while reporting it to the public. However, I fear that censorship is still as widespread as it was in the ‘30’s, but it is subtler and more difficult to identify. Corporate networks still depend upon their sponsors, and their sponsors still want to reach a wide audience, so offensive programming does not get broadcast. -Leyla
I would argue that modern radio and television still cater primarily to commercial interests by relying on sponsors and advertisements. However, I believe a new, subtler form of advertising would be product placements on shows. Czitrom describes that after World War II, disc jockeys became popular (84-85). We still have disc jockeys today on radio shows who create playlists for radio stations focusing on specific musical genres. There was also the publicizing and commercialization of “[…] previously isolated kinds of American folk music, such as country and western and blues” in the 1930’s and 40’s (Czitrom 85). Country and blues music still exists on radio stations catering specifically to these musical tastes. Radio also brought a growth in the daytime serial or “soap opera” whose target audience was mostly women working in the home (Czitrom 85). This form of soap opera has moved from radio to television and exists as day-time soaps primarily directed toward the same target audience – women. There were also psychological thrillers on evening radio (Czitrom 85). Television still broadcasts suspenseful action shows in the evening, such as Nikita, Smallville, CSI, etc. I find the similarities to be more striking since the genres have stayed the same for the most part, except for improvements on subtler forms of advertising and an increase in the varieties of shows that are of the same genre as those from the 1930’s and 40’s. Soap operas and thrillers moved from radio to television probably because television offers a more visually-stunning medium to deliver a story. -My
This characterization of broadcasting still holds, although Czitrom’s description of the cultural significance of broadcasting is more fitting today for television rather than radio broadcasts. Television is still “a household necessity by linking the private sphere with the world ‘out there’” (83), and the core selection of modern television programs remains for the most part strikingly similar to radio programs of the 40’s. Soap operas and variety talk shows (such as The Today Show), constitute a good portion of daytime TV, a continuation of the “spectacular growth of the daytime serial” in the 30’s which “proved the single most important programming phenomenon of the decade” (85). The majority of stations broadcasting within the FM band are musical programs, and music television shows have expanded from purely musical broadcasts to coverage of the music industry as a whole. News programs remain a staple, driven by the same “news hunger” (87) and perhaps more powerful today with immediate visual coverage of events. The major difference is that as broadcast grew to become an integral part of cultural processes, broadcasting corporations no longer cater as much to the good-will of public authorities, thus bringing about a decline in political censorship in the interest of stability. Although the FCC remains as a regulatory entity, no longer does “any unorthodox economic view (bring) down the hand of censorship” (82). Television and radio programs voice opinions from both ends of the political spectrum. -Andy
Radio broadcasting and television does not stand at the very center of American society anymore, as internet has taken the forefront; however, the uses of both are still quite prevalent today. In the past, radio and television were the only forms used to perpetuate important information and advertise messages across the nation. Internet has given the user more power in terms of which type of information she wants to consume. Modern broadcasting is similar to that described by Czitrom for the 1930’s and 1940’s because both were sponsored by advertisers and have entertainment and news channels. Also, the standardization of the radio that gave broadcasters the power to place“limits and restraints on the radio programming” (Czitrom 79) still exist today. The differences are more striking, namely because modern broadcasting allows audience participation (Czitrom 81). Also, though NBC and CBS owned almost every high-power station in 1937 (Ciztrom 80), Clear Channel, the largest broadcasting company, now owns most of the radio stations. Thus, there are very few amateur radio stations available today—minimizing diversity on the air. Finally, although the ideology of consumption does reiterate “a basic message that what one had was never enough” (Czitrom 88), the new active audience does not want advertisements to dominate the radio stations. Therefore, both radio and television now tries to sell their stations by emphasizing limited advertisements and commercial breaks. The invention of TiVo has heightened this desire, as its selling point is providing viewers television shows with the option of skipping through commercials. -Hidy
Media and advertisement’s intertwined relationship was and continues to be symbiotic. However, most striking is modern broadcasting’s ability to maintain its original function/format yet transform itself to better fit the diverse audience of today.
In addition to fulfilling utopian values, radio was appropriated for commercial interests, allowing advertisements to influence not only the content but also which programs were broadcasted. Together they were able to sell a consumerist ideology-the product and a “way of life: happiness through buying” (77). This relates to the ever-growing discussion of dominant media conglomerates. Few individuals control the content viewed by the masses, resulting in the depiction of hegemonic ideologies of those in power (79).
Broadcasting programs of the 1930s and today have similar content consisting primarily of music, talks, and news reports. Also comparable are similar methods in which TV and radio advertisement takes place. For instance, artists perform in order to advertise their products.
However with the growth of the population came the need to satisfy a larger audience, necessitating niche marketing and innovative advertising strategies. Czitrom discusses censorship concerns and the lack of alternative views (82). Today, widespread programs without ties to advertisements exist as exemplified by NPR, a public radio. -Lisa
Seventy years later, modern broadcasting remains strikingly similar in function to radio broadcasting of the 1940’s. Both provided a significant form of advertising allowing companies to market products
to people in the comfort of their own homes. Some types of programs, like the soap opera, also still remain to this day in daytime television. There are, however, some notable differences between
television broadcasting today and 1930’s – 1940’s radio broadcasting. Czitrom describes much of the past radio programs to consist of “family entertainment” that was appropriate for everyone. Today, shows need not necessarily be targeted to, or appropriate for, the entire family, as many shows on MTV are targeted specifically to teenagers. Time slots now are divided to different target audiences: daytime television for stay-at-home mothers and viewers that might not have jobs, prime time for the family, late night for adults, and Saturday morning for kids. Advertising, too, has changed in form. Whereas past radio advertising was similar in effect to a door-to-door salesman describing a brand’s strong points, today’s advertising focuses more on brand familiarity and entertainment. Indeed, Geico car insurance commercials are mostly humorous and only briefly describe savings. Besides these changes, however, the general format of broadcasting today remains similar to early broadcasting in that both are largely for entertainment and advertising. -Joshua
The overall point of Czitrom’s statement is resoundingly true, especially the role of radio and television in “appropriating those urges for commercial interest.” Nonetheless, there are certain elements of his statement that no longer hold seventy years later. In particular, the characterization that “commercial broadcasting wedded the advertisers message to older popular cultural forms”  There seems to be very little thought towards the older cultural forms that Czitrom is referring to (theaters, concerts, etc.). Ironically, in the time between then and now, broadcasters have established their own cultural forms, thus supplanting those “historical forms”. Wedding those cultural forms to programming was initially necessary for broadcasting to thrive. However, as broadcasting became more ubiquitous and future generations emerged, broadcasters were able to dictate their programming even more towards their own interests.
In regards to similarities between the 1930-40s and now, the toll broadcasting paradigm still reigns supreme. Moreover, large corporate ownership of programming and the affiliate model of stations remains (e.g. Clear Channel, Disney, Fox, etc.). As well, there are still issues around censorship of political commentary and the use of broadcasting to further the political interests of content and station owners. In regards to differences, the majority of broadcasters seem to currently be structured around one type of programming, with the exception of public radio/television and to a lesser extent satellite radio and television channels (HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, etc.). It is worth noting that national broadcasting stations as they initially came into being still exist on television. However, they have lost a great deal of clout and relevance due to cable television, the internet and other factors.
Considering the above, I find the similarities between the present day and the 1930s and 1940s to be more striking than the differences. Recalling Czitrom, he argues that “By the close of the decade, all of the elements that characterize the American system of broadcasting could be found in radio: the alliance of advertisers and commercial broadcasters, who dominated programming over national networks…(and) a weak, administrative type of federal regulation” (79). Though Czitrom wrote this article sometime in the early 1980s, this characterization of American broadcasting is still appropriate in 2011. Advertisers and broadcasters still call the shots. -Phillip
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