The Journal of e-Media Studies is a blind peer-reviewed, on-line journal dedicated to the scholarly study of the history and theory of electronic media, especially Television and New Media. It is an inter-disciplinary journal, with an Editorial Board that is chiefly grounded in the methodologies of the field of Film and Television Studies. We welcome submissions across the fields and methodologies that study media and media history.
- Volume 5, Issue 1 (2016)
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About This Issue
by Doron Galili
Issue introduction by the special issue editor Doron Galili
by Luke Stadel
Media theorists and historians have long posited a genealogical connection between radio and television, with the idea of television as “radio with images” a common trope in scholarly understandings of the relationship between the two. Although recent scholarship has produced a more sufficiently historical understanding of the industrial, cultural, and technological connections between radio and television in the American context, the way radio influenced the development of sound norms for television remains largely unclear. Rather than assuming that television simply illustrated the silent genres of radio, adding image to an otherwise blind medium, this article uses the model of perceptual technics to analyze the development of aesthetic standards for American television, offering a historicized view of the way television could be said to have inherited the aesthetic mantle of radio. Specifically, this article challenges the way “flow,” Raymond Williams’s influential postulation of the experience of American television, has underpinned models of experience attributed to television sound. In place of flow, this article posits noise as the most significant influence of radio on early television. Concern over noise, a defining aesthetic trait of AM radio, marked historical discussions over the standardization of aesthetic parameters for American television, a fact that can be seen clearly in the proceedings of the National Television Systems Committee (NTSC) hearings of 1940 and 1941. In setting maximal allowances for the presence of noise in both image and sound transmission channels, the NTSC provided a technological basis for the way television would come to be understood during the network era as a “cool” medium, a medium marked by partial fidelity and significant levels of noise.
by Deborah L. Jaramillo
Although television manufacturing in the United States stalled during World War II, the television industry did not simply disappear from 1941 to 1945. Its interrelated components continued to plan, debate, and formulate. That planning drove demand for a trade association to steer and represent industry participants, from the most powerful players to the basic units of broadcasting. The result was the Television Broadcasters Association (TBA). Using archival documents from the Library of Congress’s National Broadcasting Company history files and the Wisconsin Historical Society’s National Association of Broadcasters Records, this article centers the trade association within the development and launch of mainstream commercial television, countering the tendency of media scholars to sideline trade associations or to treat the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) as the inevitable home of the US television industry. Put very simply, the TBA wanted television, and the NAB did not—at least in the 1940s. As an association organized to facilitate the success of radio, the NAB boasted a mature infrastructure and a sizeable AM membership. The TBA was an upstart, a small group of industry elites aspiring to treat television as inherently special and superior to radio. The story of dueling trade associations highlights the social and institutional entanglements within the web of industry relations and emphasizes the power of local broadcasters. The NAB had integrated the personnel and agendas of radio stations into its structure and governance. And though stations’ participation could be volatile, the TBA eventually discovered that their absence would ensure failure.
Modern Art as Media Event: Early Swedish Television and the Communication of Art Appreciation, the Case of "Multikonst" (1967)
by David Rynell Åhlén
This essay investigates how broadcast television was utilized and conceptualized as a means of communicating the importance and meaning of modern art appreciation to the Swedish viewing public in the 1960s. More specifically, the essay focuses on how the problem of encouraging individual art appreciation on a national scale was managed. Empirically the essay examines Multikonst (Multi Art), a large-scale art exhibition project that took place in 1967. The project was a collaboration between the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation, the nongovernmental organization Konstfrämjandet, and the governmental project Riksutställningar, and it brought together a variety of media. Key to the project’s overall planning was, however, television. Drawing inspiration from a predominant conception of television as a real-time “live” medium, the project consisted of 100 identical exhibitions that were opened and shown simultaneously at different locations across Sweden. The opening accordingly took place “on the air,” with a speech by minister of education and culture Ragnar Edenman broadcasted to TV sets placed in the various exhibition locations. Besides broadcasting the opening speech, the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation produced and aired five programs during the weeks of the exhibition, perhaps most notably a variety show, recorded at the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, celebrating the exhibition opening. The main focal point of this article is an in-depth analysis of the programs produced and aired as part of the project, focusing on the forms and modes of address used to engage the audience in the importance of modern art. The article places this detailed study of the particular programming into a larger historical context of cultural politics and conceptions of communication and information, elaborating on how and why educating the audience in the appreciation of modern art was considered a problem during the time, and why it was of crucial importance.
by Doron Galili and Elihu Katz
A conversation with Elihu Katz about the beginnings of public television in Israel and his current work.
by Steve McVoy and Mark Williams
A conversation with Steve McVoy about the technological history of television.
Television in the Cinema Before 1939: An International Annotated Database, with an Introduction by Richard Koszarski
by Richard Koszarski and Doron Galili
An international annotated database that attempts to list all pre- World War II theatrical narrative films in which some aspect of television plays at least a minor role.