Communication and Culture | Media Industries and Cultural Production (Topic: History of the Television Industry in the United States)
C411 | 26079 | Anderson, C.

TuTh, 9:30 AM-10:45 AM, 800 E. 3rd St. – room 100

Fulfills College S&H Requirement

Instructor: Christopher Anderson
Office: 800 E. 3rd St. – room 209
Phone: 855-5914

What is television?  Ten years ago, one would have had no problem
answering that question.  The number of channels may have increased
since the 1970s, but television looked much as it had since 1950.
In prime time and most other parts of the day, television told
stories -- created by writers, brought to life by actors and
directors, dispensed in a reassuring rhythm of daily or weekly
episodes.  Television began as entertainment for the age of mass
marketing, produced on a grand scale according to a few standard
formulas, delivered as efficiently to a mass audience scattered
across the continent as to a single viewer seated before the
television set.  It was in this context that television took form,
its tendencies slowly becoming habit, its habits becoming a language
shared by producers and audiences alike.

That version of television existed before the digital video
recorder, before reality shows, before networked computing became
commonplace, before steaming video, before the iPod and mobile
phone.  That version of television is fading into the sunset, and we
will be able to mark its symbolic passing during the Spring
semester – when analog broadcasting ends in February 2009 and all
television in the United States becomes fully digital.

No one can predict exactly what television will become in the 21st
century, but we can begin to study the trends that have taken shape
during the century’s first decade.  The digital age has unsettled
the media industries.  At this moment, the new Screen Actors Guild
contract has yet to be settled; broadcast networks are losing
loyalty and relevancy with their audience; advertising dollars seem
to be moving inevitably toward digital media – including video
games, mobile communication devices and the Internet, where
advertisers hope to find a new generation of consumers.

What will become of television in the age of YouTube and Grand Theft
Auto?  We may not be able to answer that question, but we will try
to understand why and how media industries respond to changing
social, cultural, economic and technological conditions.

Grades will be based upon a combination of exams and substantive
papers based on original research carried out by the students.