The television, invented in the late 19th and early 20th century, has revolutionized the world. For the first time, moving images could be adequately protected from around the world into the homes of ordinary people, bringing a new level of access to information and entertainment previously only dreamed of. The social and political changes brought about by this innovation were so profound that it was decided to appreciate the medium formally, on a global scale.

The early years of television

Prior to the invention of the television, people received information via radio broadcasting (if a household was equipped with a transistor radio) and the newspapers. Early television broadcasts followed the same format as radio, with a man reading a simple bulletin on a black and white screen. The technology however soon evolved to include images of events and interviews with people. This style was abandoned when color technology was developed in the mid to late sixties, and TV technology continues to advance with evermore sophisticated optics and digital enhancements.

How World Television Day came to be

In December 1996, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the 21st of November World Television Day, the same year the first World Television Forum was held. The forum brought together leading figures from the media industry to analyze the growing impact that TV had on decision-making and public opinion when it comes to issues of peace and security around the planet. This decision was taken in order to give recognition to the increasing impact television has had on decision-making by bringing various conflicts and threats to peace and security to the world’s attention, as well as its coverage of other major issues, including economic and social.

The celebration of World Television Day

World Television Day is not meant to be a celebration of the electronic tool itself, but rather of the philosophy which it represents. A philosophy of openness and transparency of world issues. It is also a chance to appreciate not only the extraordinary technological ingenuity of the scientist and engineers who made seemingly impossible things happen, but also to understand the social and cultural implications that such a unifying medium has had on our global communities. The internet has connected us in ways we didn’t expect and perhaps could not have imagined, but on World Television Day we remember that television was there first, and paved the way for what was to come.

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MediaLab Team

Nov 21, 2020