Some people claim that television has no aesthetics, that it brings nothing to the preexistent world. It does not transform mundane society at all. It's seens as transparent, or as a mirror, however.
Television has been around for over half a century. Events are constructed for TV, yet TV itself becomes an event, generating global commentary. Society has become more mediatised, for something to be significant, it must pass through the media.
Broadcast TV is the dominant form.
Television is used to entertain and inform, it has adapted from 4 hours of broadcasting per day to now being, in the most part, 24/7.
'The instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise, it is nothing but wires and lights in a box.' Murrow.
Each channel forms its own distinct graphic style, easily recognisable, unlike other mediums, as a genre is often linked to different channels.
As a Medium
What defines TV as a medium of its own, is the intimacy it brings. It takes influences from theatre, cinema and radio, but emphasises the close up to show not only intimacy, but equality. Real size images
Television is seen as a natural part of society in modern society. 'Television pictures tend to be unquestioned; they are accepted as being seen as 'natural'... They seem untouched by the human hand.' Hood, 1980:1
TV has allowed for a 'global village' to share a culture. Instant awareness of global events. However, rather than create unity and a whole community, it differentiates between many worldy cultures and beliefs.
Television is continuous and highly commercial, thus very fragmented. TV doesn't reflect reality, but rather uses fragmented images and sound to sample and transform society.
It has a serial nature, with a seemingly endless stream. Creates a culture of belonging within a series, witnessing characters evolve, much like within reality.
What differs between film and television is the way in which is watched. Film is seen as a spectacle, which we 'gaze' at, but television is viewed from the comfort of the home and subsequently has inherited a 'natural' status in everyday life, thus, it is claimed that we inevitably only 'glance' at the television, never giving it our full attention due to homely distractions.
Television includes a lot of media which people wait for; this anticipation will keep the viewer's attention throughout the duration of the show, which deters from traditional views of the 'glance' theory.
Broadcast TV sends a live signal out instantaneously, like mediums such as radio and the Internet, but image accompanied with sound defines it as a medium of its own.
Television is currently the only medium that users organise their lives around. There is a hierarchisation of material, which is given prime time billings, almost always at the same time each week, giving the viewer a schedule to stick to.
Direct Address, person in front of the camera will talk directly to the viewer; this cannot be achieved on the big screen, as the person-to-person intimacy of the smaller screen creates a real human interaction feel. Makes it personal.
Sense of community
Television is shared together, offering discussion and the chance to experience things at the same time.
'The TV and its use has become a normal part of domestic life and nightly TV viewing has become an established part of the evening's activity for most Western countries.' Ellis, 1982: 160.
The Internet and Interactivity
The rise of the Internet creates the biggest threat to the medium.
Video sharing website (YouTube) perform similarly to television, but are not scheduled.
Television is becoming more intergrated with the Internet, offering on demand services online, such as BBC iPlayer. Modern televisions are able to record and rewind live television and are often able to access the Internet. Virgin Media has intergrated a YouTube app into its system.
Full budget television shows are increasingly becoming created exclusively for websites, such as YouTube.
The ability for television to tell a story over a collection of episodes, rather than cramming into the length of a feature film, defines it as a stand alone medium.
Plot twists and 'what-if' scenarios are created and allow dramas to gather a fan following. Audiences play a huge part in detailing how it should be defined as a medium in its own right.
Television gives us a longer viewing time than cinema, even if it is interrupted by adverts and highly commercialised.
Subscription service programmes gather a highly devoted following, due to the lack of interruptions.