It is here reissued with additionalupdating material by his son Ederyn Williams. Beginning with a brief history of television, ProfessorWilliams proves that its ultimate use is not determined by itstechnology alone.
Television: Technology and Cultural Form 2nd Edition
Technicians developed television accordingto certain envisioned goals; but it then fell prey to the sellers ofreceivers, more interested in marketing the sets than in whatthey carried. Williams surveys the institutions that weredeveloped for television and contrasts and compares those inBritain and the United States. He analyses in critical detaildozens of programmes and scheduling practices and asks hardquestions about their social effect.
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He also develops theimportant concept of programme flow. The final part of the book looks at technologicaldevelopments, taking each in turnvideo, satellitetransmission, large screen receivers, and cable distribution. Williamss comments on the social and cultural questions theseprovoke are remarkably pertinent today. Here Ederyn Williamsprovides an overview of technological development in theintervening years. Professor Williamss conclusionsthat while television canbe a tool towards education and wider democracy, it can alsolead, despite the talk of competition and choice, to limiting.
This book is an attempt to explore and describe some of therelationships between television as a technology and televisionas a cultural form. In the contemporary debate about thegeneral relations between technology, social institutions andculture, television is obviously an outstanding case. Indeed itspresent importance, as an element in each of these areas, andas a point of interaction between them, is in effectunparalleled.
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I have been meaning to attempt this inquiry since I wroteThe Long Revolution and Communications, which were moreclosely concerned with the cultural institutions of print. As inthose earlier studies, the social history and the social analysisneeded to be directly related to critical and analyticalexamination of the materials and processes of the specificcommunication. I was able to choose my own subjects and on severaloccasions tried to sum up my impressions of a particulartelevision use or formsport, travel, police serials,commercials, political reporting, discussions.
These articles area necessary background for the present inquiry, and I havedrawn on some of their experience for this book, which was,however, mainly written in California, in a very differenttelevision situation. I have taken the opportunity to make somecomparisons between British and American practice.
I alsotook the opportunity of discussion with colleagues in theDepartment of Communications at Stanford University and. I am especially grateful toEdwin B. My wifes workon the material for Chapters Three, Four and Six was at onceprimary and indispensable. I am also grateful to Mr JonathanBenthall for his help throughout the inquiry. Much has changed since he wrote it in , though I foundit amazing, on re-reading, to see how much of todays mediaenvironment he had accurately predicted then.
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Many of theissues and arguments that he forecast have since been splashedin headlines across newspapers, though due to the slightlyslower pace of technological progress than he then supposed,many of them are still live or yet to come. He would have revised the book more thoroughly than Idare. I have confined myself to a few notes on the earlierchapters, to updates on certain factual points, and to fullernotes on Chapter 6.
Many of the technical developments thathe discussed in have now occurred, though the politicaland cultural issues are still live, and many decisions onstructure and control are still open to argument.
My notes toChapter 6 are intended to reveal the continuing relevance ofthese issues, converting the predictions into fact and providingrecent examples. It is often said that television has altered our world. In the sameway, people often speak of a new world, a new society, a newphase of history, being createdbrought aboutby this orthat new technology: the steam-engine, the automobile, theatomic bomb.
Most of us know what is generally implied whensuch things are said. But this may be the central difficulty: thatwe have got so used to statements of this general kind, in ourmost ordinary discussions, that we can fail to realise theirspecific meanings. For behind all such statements lie some of the most difficultand most unresolved historical and philosophical questions.
Geraghty, C. London: Arnold Hilmes, M. London: BFI Publishing. Miller, T. Television Studies. Television: Technology and Cultural Form. London: Routledge. Original work published Winston, B. The module aims to: Enable students to gain experience of television studio production and develop skills in television studio practice Enable students to develop a range of transferable skills in audio-visual production.
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