Broadcasting Glossary

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff
addressable converter
A cable television box that can be supplied with programming by a cable system, providing pay-per-view events.
The numerical difference between the upper and lower frequencies of a band of electromagnetic radiation, especially an assigned range of radio frequencies.
The brief period in the television scanning process when the electron beam returns from the right to left or from the bottom to top of the screen, rendering the video signal invisible. It is during the blanking interval that closed-captioning and teletext occurs.
blind spot
An area where radio reception is weak or nonexistent.
The term to describe material that is recorded for repeated use on television or radio.
channel surfing
The practice of scanning a series of television channels to find something that catches the eye or to avoid commercials. Made possible by the remote control, it now occupies some viewers for entire evenings, wreaking havoc on advertisers and programmers. Surfing is one reason programming practices such as seamless transitions from one show to the next and splitting 30-second commercials into two 15-second halves have become prevalent.
A program that is broadcast with captions seen only on a specially equipped receiver.
DBS (Direct Broadcast Satellite)
The programming services that are available to home satellite-dish owners. The services include RCA's DSS small-dish service, PrimeStar and Full View TV.
dead spot
A zone within the range of a radio transmitter where little or no radio signal can be received.
double pumping
The programming tactic of presenting the same program twice in one night or twice in one week.
family hour
The time slot, typically between 6 P.M. and 8 P.M., during which television and radio programs are free of violence and sex.
fin-syn regulations
The laws passed by the Federal Communications Commission limiting the networks' ownership of the programming they broadcast. The laws prohibit networks from acquiring a financial interest in the program's producers and from distributing the programs in syndication, except overseas. The regulations were repealed because of increased competition from cable and other forms of home entertainment. The repeal has led to the phenomenon of one network producing programming that appears on another network.
The programming slot between two hit shows, often used to launch a new program.
HDTV (high definition television)
The broadcast standard that offers greater resolution by increasing the number of scan lines. Currently available in Japan, the format is expected to be available in the United States by the fall of 1996.
and PUTs Two measures of statistics used by analysts of Nielsen Media Research that denote houses using television and people using television.
A television program that combines news and entertainment features, such as interviews, commentaries and reviews.
Children's television programs or videotapes.
A film of a transmitted television program.
A technique for showing wide-screen movies on television that preserves the original aspect ratio by filling the top and bottom parts of the screen with black bars.
The genre of television programming that covers current events and topical issues.
Nielsen Media Research
Television audience research conducted by the A.C. Nielsen Co. that provides the most widely accepted measure of television viewership. Nielsen Ratings determine what the networks and cable channels charge advertisers for commercials. A combination of viewing diaries and people meters in television sets measures the ratings. The company was founded in 1923 to provide advertisers measurements of radio audiences.
A television program produced as a prototype of a series being considered a network. The success or failure of the pilot usually determines if the network picks up the series.
Q rating
A measure by TVQ/Marketing Evaluations Co. that attempts to determine the familiarity of performers, products, athletes and other public figures. The recognizability of these personalities influences casting decisions and product endorsements.
A programming maneuver that moves a show from its usual time slot to a more advantageous slot or multiple time periods in order to boost ratings or introduce a new program. It also refers to unusual or sensational programming designed to grab attention during sweeps periods. See hammock and double pumping.
The monthlong periods, usually in February, May, July and November, when Nielsen Media Research measures audiences in all television markets. These periods are important to local stations because they provide comparative ratings across the nation and important to networks because they provide an indepth view of their audience. Advertising sales for the upcoming programming season are heavily affected by the outcome of the sweeps.
An attention-getting highlight of a television show presented before the show begins. It is intended to draw viewers to the program.
A trademark used for the device that shows an actor or a speaker an enlarged line-by-line reproduction of a script, unseen by the audience.
An electronic communications system in which printed text is broadcast by television signal to sets equipped with decoders.
tent pole
A hit program of such strength that its audience will stay with the network for the rest of the evening.
The device in a communications satellite that receives signals from an uplink on earth and transmits it back to earth (downlink). It is used by cable programmers to deliver signals to local cable systems.
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