The first chapter covers the changes in regulations during the Kennedy years. It introduces a important FCC chairman name Newton Minow. His approach towards broadcasters would be one that would cause much change in the industry. He would argue against some unfavorable programming and would try to promote what he thought was best for America. His accusations of a Vast Wasteland of current TV content would put broadcasting in the spotlight. Minow had much attention after his speech and the public favored him. The TV industry tried to fight back Minow for his remarks by citing that huge growth requires that type of content. The fighting from the broadcasters would not last long as they had to adjust to Minows’ standards.
The broadcasting industry relied on prime time shows to bring in high profits and good ratings. Many of the shows were in the action genre which would not be as a safe bet in the changing industry climate. Some of the networks decided to drop the action shows which might be seen as not favorable to Minow. Programming would shift to new genres like dramas and comedies. The Dodd hearings also brought more pressure on the broadcasters as shows with sex and violence were not beneficial to American society. Once again the networks would have to adjust their shows to minimize any violence. Minow became satisfied that his actions were changing the industry to the better. Another focus the networks came upon was the Kennedys. Their influence on American culture was important to include the shows the networks were promoting. Lastly, the Civil Rights movement was another top the networks covered intensely. It brought much controversy through the coverage of the events and would help shape how everything unfolded. While Minow left in 1963 many of his actions would continue on with the changing industry environment.
While the game show genre became an important one to promote the Kennedys would bring even more attention to the industry. John Kennedy was able to take advantage of the broadcast industry to reach across to many Americans. He was able to excel in press conferences would later help him during key debates. His use of the television would be vital during the Cuba Missile crisis too. Kennedy chose television over a direct approach of the Russians and would use it to strengthen his argument in a daring move. Another shift in the television industry was the increased competition of the networks. CBS once a strong leader over the others was being challenged by NBC. The increase of competition would lead more resources and technology into the rapidly changing industry.
The Civil Rights would bring a new challenge to the television industry that would be instrumental in the outcome. The coverage of the events would bring controversy to some of the networks and even put some of them in danger from pro- segregationists. Kennedy would use television to try and diffuse the situation and bring an end to the violence. The President made an address on telelvsion for Civil Rights which would be followed by an important bill that brought real change. The three networks ABC, NBC, and CBS also played an important role in making sure events like the march on Washington were fully covered. The coverage of the Civil Rights by the television industry was an important part of informing Americans there needs to be change.
The space race was another topic that would fill the minds of many Americans. The launch of Sputnik turned the attention towards America’s own space plan. The networks were sure to promote much coverage to any event that was part of the new space program. They were given exclusive access to space launches such as John Glenn’s launch. The support of the public for NASA and Kennedy was extremely important and the television industry helped promote their positions. Even in the networks ownTV shows the space age was promoted. The success of U.S. astronauts was highlighted by the networks and brought much needed support to the nascent program.
Documentaries became the next hit that networks would embrace. CBS was able to do documentaries on Kennedy which brought information to the public on the life of the presidency. A Tour of the White House with Mrs. Kennedy was a major hit to the public and allowed even more knowledge of the Kennedy life. The attention to documentaries would be short lived as Kennedy was a major factor in their adoption. The President was one of few who was confident enough and open to the cameras that allowed a closer look for Americans on their leader.
As the Cold War was in full swing the government looked for aspects of American life to improve. TV programs for children was a new way for Americans to beat the Russians. Minow had already advocated fir higher quality content for all telelvesion. Minow and Kennedy would work together to find ways for better children programming. Unforutnately their hopes for better change were not met as ratings for the shows didn’t do well. The Discovery series was thought to be a high quality show, but failed to last throughout the years. As seen programming for children was not able to take off as commercial networks were not able to suecceed. It would be later with public televion where children programming excelled.
Television advertising became an important aspect in the American culture and economy. The ads were necessary to induce Americans to consume more goods and services. The auto industry especially took on TV advertising to grow larger. The tobacco industry was another that had to evolve with the changing television environment. They were put under pressure by the Kennedy administration about the effects of advertising to the youth. Minow was sure to keep advertising in check though by making sure deceptive advertising was not approved. Television advertising became integral to many Americans as they became part of a consumption culture. This was an important part of economic growth that would continue on for years.
The amount of television channels was limited because of the lack of use in the UHF band. ETV stations were important in using the new band to increase the amount of programming. Also the educational programming was broadcast as an important part of ETV stations. Unfortunately, not many AMerians could recive UHF until the All Channel Receiver bill was introduced. Next generation TV sets were equipped to receive the new wave of channels. However, ETVs did have downsides as the costs were high and they were not able to cover live events like the race riots.
The satellite was a major innovation that would bring TV programming across the world. ATT was able to launch the Telstar which could send signals to different stations around the world. Throughout the early use of the Telestar viewers from different nations were able to see live events from far way places. The new communication that the satellite would bring was thought to be a better way towards peace. Kennedy made sure that the communication satellites would be one that would ensure peace and help end the cold war.
The Kennedy years would end with televisions extensive coverage of the Presidents life and death. The assignation brought the networks together to provide constant coverage on the events and give any updates to the situation. The broadcasting industry knew how important it was to respect the Kennedy family and instead of usual programming they had a tribute to the Kennedy. Telstar was able to broadcast the funeral to 24 countries. The weeks following the funeral the industry still uptake their respect for the President by broadcasting memorial shows. As seen American television changed rapidly during the Kennedy years which brought television into the center of many American lives.