Experiments in broadcasting television began in the 1920s but were interrupted by World War II. In 1996 there were 1,340 commercial television stations on the air, and 600 noncommercial stations. There were also more than 2,000 low-power television stations. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting was established in 1968 as a not-for-profit, nongovernmental agency to finance the growth of noncommercial radio and television by 2003 the network served more than 200 television and nearly 800 radio stations.
New and competing technologies have had a tremendous impact on broadcasting and the ways in which people use it. With the availability of small, high-quality portable and automotive receivers, it has been estimated that less than half of all radio listening takes place in the home. Cable television , which reached more than 67% of all U.S. homes by 2003, gave consumers a wider choice of programs from which to choose. The new cable channels, most of them highly specialized in the programming they offer, coupled with the wide availability of videocassettes and then DVDs, reduced the influence of the broadcast networks. Television and radio signals are also now transmitted from satellites direct to household satellite dishes, and television and radio programs as well as motion pictures, music, and the like may now be transmitted or downloaded over the Internet and viewed or heard using a computer, smart phone, or another electronics device with the appropriate software.
See E. Barnouw, A History of Broadcasting in the United States (3 vol., 1966–70) J. R. Bittner, Broadcasting and Telecommunication: An Introduction (1985) S. J. Douglas, Inventing American Broadcasting, 1899–1922 (1997) J. R. Walker and D. A. Ferguson, The Broadcast Television Industry (1998).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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