Learning objectives: to explore the regulatory framework of US TV networks
Learning outcomes: to be able to provide context for the remit of HBO
What are your expectations of US TV in terms of both content and structure?
Types of TV in the US
Traditional broadcast (free)
Satellite (free and subscription)
Commercials and sponsorship
Donations and telethons (!) This is more common amongst smaller TV stations
Subscription fees for premium channels (e.g. HBO)
The Major Networks
NBC (since 1920’s as a radio station)
CBS (since 1920’s as a radio station)
ABC (Spin off from NBC)
Transition to TV in 1940’s
Fox (since 1986)
Most major networks start out with news (localised to the state area)
Through the day they broadcast soap operas and talk shows
Early evening news shows (local/national)
Prime time will be comedy/drama/reality TV with an emphasis on ‘family viewing’
Talk shows are broadcast late evening
How many channels are there in the US?
According to the FCC, as of March 31, 2011, there are
1022 commercial television stations,
360 commercial television stations,
285 educational television stations’
107 educational television stations,
In 2008, there were an estimated 327 million television sets in the US
On Sunday, February, 6, 2011, 111 million viewers tuned in to watch the Green Bay Packers defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl 45, making it the largest television audience ever for a U.S. TV program.
Broadcast television is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission.
awards licenses to local stations
stipulate stations commitments to educational and public-interest programming.
prohibits the airing of "indecent" material over the air between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Although broadcast stations can legally air almost anything they want late at night—and cable networks at all hours—nudity and graphic profanity are very rare on American television, though they are common on pay television services that are free from FCC regulations and pressure from advertisers to tone down content, and often require a subscription to view.
Broadcasters fear that airing such material will turn off advertisers and encourage the federal government to strengthen its regulation of television content.
FCC regulations do not cover subscription channels such as HBO
Key questions relevant to this study
In what ways is US TV different to British broadcasting?
Are there any common elements?
Where does HBO fit in to this?
How has HBO positioned itself in terms of its remit?