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Chapter 9 - TV programming

TV programming takes two major forms: news and entertainment.

Television news is the nation's primary source of news and is regarded as credible by a large portion of the public.

Television news reached maturity when President Kennedy was assassinated. During this turbulent era television coverage illustrated major fault lines in American society. The assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy were covered extensively. The 1960s events such as the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War came to life in America's living rooms. The sixties ended as millions of people around the world watched Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.

The 1970s and 1980s were marked by money and machines. Television news became a significant profit center for local TV stations and cable. Anchor salaries rose. Electronic news gathering and satellite news came on the scene. Cable offerings expanded and the 1980s saw the first new TV network since the advent of television when FOXdebuted the Simpsons.

The 1990s saw growth in TV news due to news networks, regional cable news, and more global competition.

Many people are involved in the preproduction stage of the newscast. They are the news director, news producer, assignment editor, field producer, reporter, writer, and tape editors. Those involved in the production stage include the director, the studio production team, and the anchors.

Television stations can obtain entertainment programming through networks, syndication, and local origination. The commercial networks - ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox - provide broad, mass appeal programming. Three newer networks, Paramount's UPN, AOL-Time-Warner's WB, and Pax TV, have aligned with independent stations to compete for the huge TV audience.

Historically, networks have relied on outside sources for their programs - in particular, the major Hollywood studios and a cluster of well-known independent producers. Recently, the networks have expanded the scope of their own in-house production. The networks receive a great number of suggested storylines. Because the numer is so large, there is only a slight chance that any one idea will be accepted.

Made-for-TV and cable movies are the most expensive types of programming. Situations comedies and reality programs, on the other hand, are cheaper to produce.

As cable matures, it has directly affected the networks. Cable has been producting higher-quality shows and the effects can be seen in the ratings.

Syndication has become a popular source of programming. To understand fully the syndication business, one must be aware of NATPE trade shows and types of syndication.

Cable syndication is growing as the audience watching cable continues to expand.

Local TV stations achieve an identity by producing local shows; therefore, many community and cable stations are trying this technique. Because they will be saving money and providing original programming these stations are likely to survive in the future.

TV programming strategies include audience flow, counterprogramming, and challenge programming.

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