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Television is the most powerful medium of mass communication seen regularly by most persons in the United States. Television signals may be delivered by using antennas (broadcast), communication satellites, or cable systems. Because of television's societal impact, the federal government regulates companies that operate television systems.

Experimental television systems were developed in the 1930s, but commercial exploitation did not occur in the United States until the late 1940s. Initially, television signals were broadcast from antennas and received by a television set in a person's home or business. Improved technology led to the replacement of black-and-white images with color signals in the 1960s.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which was established by the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq.), originally was charged with the regulation of radio. With the introduction of television and the need for television stations to obtain FCC licenses to use broadcast frequencies, the FCC assumed sole jurisdiction over the television industry.

Television broadcasts may be regulated for content. Typically, this regulation has focused on broadcasts of allegedly obscene or indecent material. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld regulations banning obscene material, as Obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It has also permitted the FCC to prohibit material that is "patently offensive" and either "sexual" or "excretory" from being broadcast during times when children are presumed to be in the audience (FCC v. Pacifica Foundation, 438 U.S. 726, 98 S. Ct. 3026, 57 L. Ed. 2d 1073 [1978]).

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 (Pub. L. No. 104-104) mandated the establishment of an advisory committee for the rating of video programming that contains indecent materials for purposes of parental control. The act also required televisions with screens 13 inches or larger, manufactured after 1998, to be equipped with a so-called V chip to allow parents to block programs having a predesignated rating for sex and violence. In 1998, the FCC approved the program rating system developed by the networks to assist parents in monitoring the shows their children watch.

Cable Television has grown tremendously since the 1980s. Cable television originally served communities in mountainous regions that had difficulty receiving broadcast transmissions. Many communities solved this problem by erecting tall receiving towers to capture broadcast signals and retransmit them over wires running from the tower to homes that subscribed to this service.

During the 1970s and 1980s, large corporations installed cable systems in every large metropolitan area in the United States, as well as in many rural areas. Independent programming was transmitted on cable systems by companies such as Home Box Office (HBO) and Cable News Network (CNN).

Although cable television could not be categorized as broadcasting in the traditional sense, the FCC adopted the first general federal regulation of cable systems. Local government also became involved, as each municipality had to award a cable system franchise to one vendor. Cable operators negotiated system requirements and pricing with local governments, but federal law imposed some restrictions on rates to consumers.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 deregulated cable television rates, in part because of increased interest by telephone companies in entering the cable market by sending programming through existing phone lines. The act permits phone companies to provide video programming directly to subscribers in their service areas.

Even prior to deregulation in 1996, companies in the telecommunications industry had been involved in major mergers. In 1985, Capital Cities acquired the ABC network, and one year later, General Electric acquired NBC. In 1995, two major mergers occurred, as Westinghouse bought CBS for a reported $5.4 billion, and the Walt Disney Company purchased Capital Cities/ABC for a reported $19 billion. Disney went on to purchase or otherwise acquire a wide range of cable networks as well, including ESPN, Fox Family Worldwide, the History Channel, and E! Entertainment Television.

Since deregulation, companies have merged to create even larger media conglomerates. A number of commentators have questioned whether the presence of a few enormous entities would stifle competition in the industry. Others questioned whether federal antitrust policy would need to be adapted to address concerns about such large corporations owning multiple media entities. Many of these questions have gone unanswered, and in many ways consumers have benefited from the products that these conglomerates offer. For instance, since the late 1990s, the ABC network has enhanced its sports coverage through its association with ESPN by offering dual coverage of certain sporting events, such as professional football.

For customers who cannot obtain cable television programming, the transmission of television signals by satellite has been a practical solution. In the 1990s, however, direct broadcast satellite (DBS) systems began to compete with cable television systems by going after a broader consumer base. The DBS systems offer high-quality video and audio signals, and access to a wide range of programming.

The development of digital high-definition television (HDTV) was the broadcast television industry's top priority in the 1990s and into the 2000s. HDTV, which has a significantly finer picture resolution than an ordinary television screen, requires additional broadcast frequencies, which the FCC must license to broadcasters. Broadcast television, which saw its viewership steadily drop as cable and DBS became popular, sees HDTV as a way to reclaim its market share.

Further readings

Compaine, Benjamin M., and Douglas Gomery. 2000. Who Owns the Media?: Competition and Concentration in the Mass Media. 3d ed. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Creech, Kenneth. 2002. Electronic Media Law and Regulation. 4th ed. Boston: Focal Press.


Fairness Doctrine; Mass Communications Law.

References in periodicals archive ?
En el 2000, Perez Silva anuncio la "muerte" del televisor. En 2006 Missika certifico su defuncion.
Quisieras levantarte con todo y la pierna escayolada, reconstruida por dentro con placas de metal y clavos--fue una operacion de varias horas--, tumbar de un manotazo el televisor y patearlo hasta que reviente.
Esto es, un nino desde antes de los dos anos puede con facilidad encender un televisor, mientras que no podria acceder a esa edad con tal facilidad a un programa que se difunde a traves de internet, por ejemplo.
Estas aplicaciones nacieron con la intencion de ampliar las capacidades multimedia posibles en un televisor, principalmente, reproducir musica, fotos y videos desde un dispositivo USB directamente al televisor y grabar los contenidos que se emitiesen (funcion videograbador).
Ahora bien, al ampliar el rango de cobertura, haciendo mas temprano el inicio de las transmisiones, se preveia la incorporacion de otros televidentes a la franja: personas que antes de salir a trabajar, cumplir diligencias o estudiar, prendian el televisor.
Estos dos sistemas, no necesariamente son interactivos por si mismos, pero si reunen las caracteristicas para serlo, ya que son dispositivos que permiten, no solo la salida de datos (como en un televisor convencional), sino tambien la entrada de ellos.
El flujo fisico del modelo empieza desde la produccion e importacion de televisores, que se introducen en el mercado para ser comprados por un hogar que desea adquirir o cambiar su televisor, ya sea porque cumplio su ciclo de vida o por el deseo de actualizacion de tecnologia.
"?Cuantas?" "!Dos!" Modelo para el muy lentamente dos pilas adaptadas al tamano de su televisor. El no deja de mirarlas.
Hogares con televisor 2010 Tecnologia Porcentaje del total de hogares Televisor digital 13.2% Solo televisor analogico 81.5% Fuente: INEGI 2010.
Un nino de dos o tres anos esta parado frente al televisor. MTV exhibe el video-clip de la cancion "Enjoy The Silence", del disco Violator de 1990.
Por ello, estos tones apuestan a las horas que se han invertido frente a un televisor en espera de un desenlace que, si bien no sorprende a nadie, nos ha disciplinado para ver una misma transmision durante meses--si no es que anos--a la misma hora y por el mismo canal.
As early TV sets had no internal receiver, the device was hooked up to a "televisor" to watch broadcasts available between 1929 and 1932.