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Broadcasting is a crucial instrument of modern social and political organization. At its peak of influence in the mid-20th century, national leaders often used radio and television broadcasting to address entire countries. Because of its capacity to reach large numbers of people, broadcasting has been regulated since it was recognized as a significant means of communication. (For more information, see the section "The Regulation of Broadcasting.")
Radio and television advertising are two of the most effective lead generation tools available. This has been true for decades and shows no signs of stopping. They reign supreme for direct response advertising. Both radio and TV continually develop new ways to reach their audience:
The ratings system now used in broadcasting arose from sponsors' desire to know how many people they were reaching with their advertising. In 1929 Archibald Crossley launched Crossley's Cooperative Analysis of Broadcasting, using telephone surveys to project daily estimates of audience size for the national networks. The A. C. Nielsen Company, which had been surveying audience size in radio since the mid-1930s, eventually became the dominant television ratings service. Nielsen became known for two techniques (both of which are still used): placing boxes on television sets in the homes of samplings of viewers to record their program choices, and asking sample groups of viewers to keep diaries of what they watched. The size of any given program's audience is then estimated, based on the reactions of these sample viewers. The resulting projections, or ratings, determine the price of advertisements during the show and, ultimately, whether the show will stay on the air or be cancelled.
When these two lead generation advertising are combined, the results can be even better. Multiple studies have shown that combining radio and television can help advertisers reach audiences not achievable with only one medium. Customers who were exposed to ads on both TV and radio had a 35% higher ad recall than those who only saw it on TV.
Other television program types include talk shows, sports coverage, children's programming, game shows, and religious programs, all of which originated on radio. New program types are rarely introduced in broadcasting, since audience familiarity plays a key role in determining programming.
or daily serial drama, was originally developed as a daytime genre aimed specifically at a female audience. Soap operas explored romance, friendship, and familial relations in slow-moving, emotionally involving narratives. The invention of the soap opera is credited to Irna Phillips, who began developing such programs for local radio broadcast in Chicago during the 1920s. Many of her radio shows were adapted for television, with some running first on radio and then on television for more than 25 years. Philips's productions include "The Brighter Day" (1954-1962), "The Guiding Light" (1952- ), and "The Edge of Night" (1956-1984).
Today, television stations in the United States produce very little of their own programming, apart from daily local newscasts and a few public-affairs discussion shows. Most stations broadcast series, feature films, documentaries, and world and national news coverage originating via network connections from Los Angeles and New York City.
The newsinternational, national, and localconstitutes a natural genre for broadcasting, and in fact, one of broadcasting's first purposes was to spread news of maritime weather conditions. Early experimenters and amateurs informed each other of everything from election results to local gossip. Unlike newspapers, radio could offer its audience live coverage of events. Television added instant images that dated newspaper photographs before readers ever saw them. The speed with which broadcasting could reach entire populations redefined the role of the newspaper in American society. Print journalism became a supplemental medium, focusing on in-depth coverage and editorial opinion.
Until the mid-1950s the relationship between local radio stations and their national networks was similar to the current situation of television stations. The advent of television, however, changed radio radically, forcing it from its primary position in mass communications to a secondary role. Today most radio stations originate almost all of their own entertainment programming, much of which is prerecorded music.
In addition to daily news coverage, the networks also developed weekly prime-time series, such as "60 Minutes" (1968- ) and "20/20" (1978- ). Newsmagazine shows tend to consist of cultural reporting, investigative reporting, and human-interest stories. They have proliferated in prime-time broadcasting, while all-news cable channels have been quicker to supply immediate news of noteworthy events. Although network news divisions regularly produced hour-long documentary programs during the 1950s, such as "CBS Reports," almost all serious American documentary programs are now produced by public television stations.
Currently, the basic building blocks of the national broadcasting networks in the United States are the approximately 10,000 local radio stations and 1500 local television stations located throughout the country. All U.S. radio and television stations fall into one of four generic categories: which are properties held directly by the networks; which are owned by other companies that contract for exclusive rights to show the programming of a particular network in a given market; commercial stations that do not contract for rights to carry network programming; and which do not carry commercial network programming and operate on contributions from viewers, corporate gifts, foundation grants, and production support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.