Formats Production – brief history

I decided to explore a little bit the topic around my module choice, because I think it is important to know the historical context and development of formats production.

As we already know, all formats originated from Radio shows. The meaning and the usage of the word “radio” has developed in parallel with the field of communications.  The earliest radio shows from the 1920s  started to have original themes like “mistery”.

The first radio news program was broadcast August 31, 1920 by station 8MK in Detroit, Michigan, which survives today as all-news format station WWJ under ownership of the CBS network.

Also it started to appear more entertainment shows. Sports broadcasting began as well in the same period, including the first broadcast college football game.

The “Golden Age” of Radio was between 1930s and 1950s, when commercial broadcasts included not only music and news shows, but also comedies, dramas and variety shows. Then the radio took the form that we know today, and started to be dominated by Television.

Arguably the greatest and influential invention of the 20th century is the Television, of course with the exception of the Internet. The history of television had a modest beginning and was met with scepticism. However, from its inception, the US was captivated.  Nowadays, according to the USA Today, there are more TVs in a house than people.

Since its inception in the early 1930s its evolution is interesting.  At the beginning there were broadcasted only presidential elections, news reports or boxing matches.

In the 1940s things changed, and all the production companies broadcasted shows related to the WWII. So the television was used as a propaganda machine.

Fortunately, the innovation persisted and colour was introduced at the early part of the decade.

The 1950s was considered the “Golden Age” of Television. By the end of 1951 there were already 8.000.000 TVs in the United States. “I Love Lucy”, “The Honeymooners”, “Father Knows Best” and the “Lone Ranger” are some of the most watched programs. The TV Guide is the 1st magazine in the country.

Also there were introduced new things such as TV dinner.

The 1960s represented the end of an era. People started to become more accustomed with the notion of television. They begin to get more news from the TV than from the newspaper. Television become not only more portable but also more affordable.

It was estimated that around 75 million people watched the Beatles on Ed Sullivan Show.

The first conflict that was ever televised was the Vietnam War.

Doctors legally advertised cigarettes.

In the 1970s we can also see a growth. “Sesame Street” debuts to children across the country, and is still on air after 40 years of broadcast.

The traditional barriers were broke with the night time shows. Now the couples were seen sleeping in the same bed, actresses  could show their belly button. “All in the Family” and “MASH” were two of the most popular evening programs.

The end of the 70’s saw a new style of music programming called “MTV”. It was not just a program, it was an entire channel all it’s own. This new medium for music would also bring about the birth of the music video.

The 1980s had an explosive growth of video industry, which caused television executives to seriously think what they broadcast. They now had to compete with other production companies with for the attention of viewers. In the 1980s sitcoms were more popular than ever. There were shows like “Rosanne,” “The Cosby Show” and “Married with Children” (which is the longest running sitcom in television history.)

The 1990s represented an age of technological change. Television shows exceeded standard FCC regulations, frequently depicting scenes with graphic violence, gratuitous sex and foul language: “The Sopranos”, “Sex in the City.”, “Friends,” “Seinfeld,” “Twin Peaks” and “The Simpsons.”

People in 90s television had individuality, problems, and (most importantly to a blood thirsty audience) they had drama. the

The 1990s had a strong impact on the television as we know it today. It put a mark on the path of the television.

In 2000s the “home theatre” experience was in the forefront of manufacture’s minds providing bigger and better quality to the consumer.

Reality shows take over the airwaves and TV becomes interactive. With the introduction of “American Idol” home viewing audiences became part of the competition. Encouraging the public to “vote” for their favorite performer, the programs enabled audiences to take an active part in the show’s outcome. Now, a 30-second ad during “American Idol” costs about $750,000.

Of course, if we are talking about nowadays shows, we definitely have to mention The X Factor, which seems to be on the top of all Tv shows. It seems that The X Factor is one of the most successful formats ever created. It managed to dominate the news, the television and the mass audience.

Regarding the future…this is a mystery. No one can tell what is the future of formats. Maybe the radio will become something similar to Youtube, and the Internet will take the place of TV. Only time can tell!

For this research I used the next sources:


About adinavlad

Optimist, friendly,'ll get to know me :)

Posted on September 8, 2011, in 262 MC - Formats Production. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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