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Radio and Television Broadcasting

mass communication, political leaders, political organization, cable television, television broadcasting

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Radio and Television Broadcasting, primary means by which information and entertainment are delivered to the public in virtually every nation around the world. The term broadcasting refers to the airborne transmission of electromagnetic audio signals (radio) or audiovisual signals (television) that are accessible to a wide population via standard, readily available receivers. The term has its origins in the medieval agricultural practice of “broadcasting,” which refers to planting seeds by scattering them across a field.

Broadcasting is a crucial instrument of modern social and political organization. At its peak of influence in the mid-20th century, radio and television broadcasting was employed by political leaders to address entire nations. Because of radio and television’s capacity to reach and influence large numbers of people, and owing to the limited spectrum of frequencies available, governments have commonly regulated broadcasting wherever it has been practiced.

In the early 1980s, new technologies—such as cable television and videocassette players—began eroding the dominance of broadcasting in mass communication, splitting audiences into smaller, culturally distinct segments. Previously the only means of delivering radio and television to home receivers, broadcasting is now just one of several delivery systems available to listeners and viewers. Sometimes broadcasting is used in a broader sense to include delivery methods such as wire-borne (cable) transmission, but these are more accurately called “narrowcasting” because they are generally limited to paying subscribers.


Marc, David, B.A., M.A., Ph.D.

enior Communications Manager and Adjunct Professor, yracuse University. Author of "Bonfire of the Humanities: Television, ubliteracy and Long-Term Memory Loss (1995)".

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mass communication, political leaders, political organization, cable television, television broadcasting, new technologies, delivery methods, radio, listeners, origins, entertainment, standard, transmission, world, seeds, century, capacity, nation, field, audiences, subscribers, governments, information, viewers

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