White Noise: Media Power & Mass Communication

February 26, 2014 § Leave a comment

Design Practice in Context 2 Lecture 26/02/14

Radio History – Listening Communities

BBC Radio launched in November 1922 – broadcasted popular and classical music concerts. Did not want to interfere with newspapers. It became a new social and cultural past time. They could listen to announcements from the King. Education was an important priority – by the 30s education broadcasts were very popular in schools.

The Power of Radio

3 out of 4 families owned a radio and people used to go round to their friends houses to listen to their favourite broadcasts. On Halloween night in 1938, Orson Wells adapted the HG Wells novel ‘War of the Worlds’ into a play and broadcast it on the radio to gain more listening numbers. People believed it to be true due to the sound effects and believability of the broadcast – people killed themselves, fled their towns, went to churches to seek help, rang police. Orson Wells was taken to court for this.

TV History

TV had less of an audience than radio at first. Actors got paid less than radio hosts because the actors only appeared on miniatures on TV rather than hosting an entire show. In 1939 programmes were being broadcast 7 days a week to an audience of 8,000 – but only for a few hours. For defence reasons, the TV was cut off during the World War I bombings as they thought the enemy would use the TV transmitters for their benefit. The radio came back into play and was the people’s source of information during the war. TV started back up again when the war was over.

The Power of TV

The Gulf War of the 1990s was broadcast on TV – for the first time ever war was shown on television for audiences to see. Audiences at that time were glued to the TV set – it would have been very discomforting to them to see such images. Today we have been desensitised so these images are not as shocking to us

TV Trends

The average person spends approximately 4 hours a day watching TV. 14.1 million watched the New Years firework display in 2013. 13.5 million tuned into I’m A Celebrity. 12.9 million watched Britain’s Got Talent. The peak in July 2013 was 17 million that tuned into Wimbledon.

Mass Hysteria & Media Dependency

Princess Diana’s tragic death and the 9/11 attacks are the two most memorable events that caused TV mass hysteria. Bhutan, a country in Southern Asia was the last place ever to get TV – in 1999. To them CNN and the BBC were the most violent TV channels because they were showing real world events that they were so naive to. They banned wrestling from being broadcast because it was too aggressive. The French World Cup in 1998 was the first thing they were showed, followed by the coronation of their King. 70% of Bhutan’s population don’t have electricity – so the impact of TV only affected a small sector of their population.

The future of TV has never looked so healthy – this is due to social media. 61% of people are ‘TV talkers’ – they agreed they watch more TV since they started discussing shows online, such as Facebook and Twitter.

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