AskDefine | Define television

Dictionary Definition



1 broadcasting visual images of stationary or moving objects; "she is a star of screen and video"; "Television is a medium because it is neither rare nor well done" - Ernie Kovacs [syn: telecasting, TV, video]
2 a receiver that displays television images; "the British call a tv set a telly" [syn: television receiver, television set, tv, tv set, idiot box, boob tube, telly, goggle box]
3 a telecommunication system that transmits images of objects (stationary or moving) between distant points [syn: television system]

User Contributed Dictionary



From tele- + vision from visio, noun of action from the perfect passive participle visus, from the verb videre + action noun suffix -io.



  1. An electronic communication medium that allows the transmission of real-time visual images, and often sound.
    It’s a good thing that television doesn’t transmit smell.
  2. A device for receiving television signals and displaying them in visual form.
    I have an old television in the study.
  3. Collectively, the programs broadcast via the medium of television.
    ... fifty-seven channels and nothing on [television].

Related terms


  • Albanian: televizion
  • Arabic: (telfá:z), (telefizyó: n)
  • Armenian: հեռուստատեսություն (heŕustatesut‘yun)
  • Bosnian: televizija
  • Bulgarian: телевизия (televízijǎ)
  • Chinese:
    Mandarin: 電視, 电视 (diànshì)
  • Czech: televize
  • Danish: tv , fjernsyn
  • Dutch: televisie
  • Esperanto: televido
  • Faroese: sjónvarp
  • Finnish: televisio
  • French: télévision
  • German: Fernsehen
  • Greek: τηλεόραση
  • Guaraní: terevi
  • Gujarati: દૂરદર્શન
  • Hebrew: טלוויזיה
  • Hungarian: televízió
  • Icelandic: sjónvarp, imbakassi
  • Interlingua: television
  • Irish: teilifís
  • Italian: televisione
  • Japanese: テレビ, テレビジョン
  • Korean: 텔레비전 (tellebijeon)
  • Latin: televisio, televisionis gen.
  • Latvian: televīzija
  • Maltese: televixin
  • Polish: telewizja
  • Portuguese: televisão
  • Romanian: televiziune
  • Russian: телевидение
  • Scottish Gaelic: teileabhisean, cian-dhealbh
  • Serbian:
    Cyrillic: телевизија
    Roman: televizija
  • Spanish: televisión
  • Swedish: television
  • Tagalog: telebisyon
  • Thai: โทรทัศน์
  • Ukrainian: телебачення
  • Vietnamese: truyền hình, TV, tivi, vô tuyến truyền hình [無線傳形]
  • Welsh: teledu
television set
program broadcasting



Extensive Definition

Television is a widely used telecommunication medium for broadcasting and receiving live, moving greyscale or color images with sound. The term may also be used to refer specifically to a television set, programming or television transmission. The word is derived from mixed Latin and Greek roots, meaning "far sight": Greek tele (), far, and Latin vision, sight (from video, vis- to see, or to view in the first person).
Commercially available since the late 1930s, the television set has become a common household communications device in homes and institutions, particularly as a source of entertainment and news. Since the 1970s, video recordings on tape and later, digital playback systems such as DVDs, have enabled the television to be used to view recorded movies and other programs.
A television system may be made up of multiple components, so a screen which lacks an internal tuner to receive the broadcast signals is called a monitor rather than a television. A television may be built to receive different broadcast or video formats, such as high-definition television, commonly referred to as HDTV.


The origins of what would become today's television system can be traced back to the discovery of the photoconductivity of the element selenium by Willoughby Smith in 1873, the invention of a scanning disk by Paul Gottlieb Nipkow in 1884, and Philo Farnsworth's Image dissector in 1927.
On March 25, 1925, Scottish inventor John Logie Baird gave a demonstration of televised silhouette images in motion at Selfridge's Department Store in London. In 1927, Baird transmitted a signal over of telephone line between London and Glasgow. In 1928, Baird's company (Baird Television Development Company / Cinema Television) broadcast the first transatlantic television signal, between London and New York, and the first shore-to-ship transmission. He also demonstrated an electromechanical color, infrared (dubbed "Noctovision"), and stereoscopic television, using additional lenses, disks and filters. In parallel, Baird developed a video disk recording system dubbed "Phonovision"; a number of the Phonovision recordings, dating back to 1927, still exist. In 1929, he became involved in the first experimental electromechanical television service in Germany. In November 1929, Baird and Bernard Natan of Pathe established France's first television company, Télévision-Baird-Natan. In 1931, he made the first live transmission, of the Epsom Derby. In 1932, he demonstrated ultra-short wave television. Baird's electromechanical system reached a peak of 240 lines of resolution on BBC television broadcasts in 1936, before being discontinued in favor of a 405-line all-electronic system developed by Marconi-EMI.
However, Herbert E. Ives of Bell Labs gave the most dramatic demonstration of television yet on April 7, 1927, when he field tested reflected-light television systems using small-scale (2 by 2.5 inches) and large-scale (24 by 30 inches) viewing screens over a wire link from Washington to New York City, and over-the-air broadcast from Whippany, New Jersey. The subjects, who included Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, were illuminated by a flying-spot scanner beam that was scanned by a 50-aperture disk at 16 pictures per minute.



Getting TV programming shown to the public can happen in many different ways. After production the next step is to market and deliver the product to whatever markets are open to using it. This typically happens on two levels:
  1. Original Run or First Run – a producer creates a program of one or multiple episodes and shows it on a station or network which has either paid for the production itself or to which a license has been granted by the producers to do the same.
  2. Syndication – this is the terminology rather broadly used to describe secondary programming usages (beyond original run). It includes secondary runs in the country of first issue, but also international usage which may or may not be managed by the originating producer. In many cases other companies, TV stations or individuals are engaged to do the syndication work, in other words to sell the product into the markets they are allowed to sell into by contract from the copyright holders, in most cases the producers.
First run programming is increasing on subscription services outside the U.S., but few domestically produced programs are syndicated on domestic FTA elsewhere. This practice is increasing however, generally on digital-only FTA channels, or with subscriber-only first run material appearing on FTA.
Unlike the U.S., repeat FTA screenings of a FTA network program almost only occur on that network. Also, Affiliates rarely buy or produce non-network programming that is not centred around local events.


globalize section
Around the globe, broadcast television is financed by either advertising, tv licencing (a form of tax) or by subscription or any combination of all three. To protect revenues, subscription TV channels are usually encrypted to ensure that only subscription payers receive the decryption codes to see the signal. Non-encrypted channels are known as Free to Air or FTA.
Advertising attempts to influence people's behaviour and beliefs and television is therefore a powerful and attractive medium for advertisers to use. TV stations sell air time to advertisers in order to fund their programming.
  • United States
Since inception in the U.S. in 1940, TV commercials have become one of the most effective, persuasive, and popular method of selling products of many sorts, especially consumer goods. U.S. advertising rates are determined primarily by Nielsen Ratings. The time of the day and popularity of the channel determine how much a television commercial can cost. For example, the highly popular American Idol can cost approximately $750,000 for a thirty second block of commercial time; while the same amount of time for the World Cup and the Super Bowl can cost several million dollars.
In recent years, the paid program or infomercial has become common, usually in lengths of 30 minutes or one hour. Some drug companies and other businesses have even created "news" items for broadcast, known in the industry as video news releases, paying program directors to use them.
Some TV programs also weave advertisements into their shows, a practice begun in film and known as product placement. For example, a character could be drinking a certain kind of soda, going to a particular chain restaurant, or driving a certain make of car. (This is sometimes very subtle, where shows have vehicles provided by manufacturers for low cost, rather than wrangling them.) Sometimes a specific brand or trade mark, or music from a certain artist or group, is used. (This excludes guest appearances by artists, who perform on the show.)
  • United Kingdom
The TV regulator oversees TV advertising in the United Kingdom. Its restrictions have applied since the early days of commercially funded TV. Despite this, an early TV mogul, Lew Grade, likened the broadcasting licence as a being a "licence to print money". Restrictions mean that the big three national commercial TV channels, ITV, Channel 4, and Five can show an average of only seven minutes of advertising per hour (eight minutes in the peak period). Other broadcasters must average no more than nine minutes (twelve in the peak). This means that many imported TV shows from the US have un-natural breaks where the UK company has edited out the breaks intended for US advertising. Advertisements must not be inserted in the course of any broadcast of a news or current affairs program of less than half an hour scheduled duration, or in a documentary of less than half an hour scheduled duration, or in a program for children of less than half an hour scheduled duration. Nor may advertisements be carried in a program designed and broadcast for reception in schools or in any religious service or other devotional program, or during a formal Royal ceremony or occasion. There also must be clear demarcations in time between the programs and the advertisements.
The BBC, being strictly non-commercial is not allowed to show advertisements on television. The majority of its budget comes from TV licencing (see below) and the sale of content to other broadcasters. BBC content delivered outside of the UK such may contain advertising because those ouside the UK do not pay the licence fee.
Taxation or TV License
Television services in some countries may be funded by a television licence, a form of taxation which means advertising plays a lesser role or no role at all. For example, some channels may carry no advertising at all and some very little.
The BBC carries no advertising and is funded by an annual licence paid by all households owning a television. This licence fee is set by government, but the BBC is not answerable to or controlled by government and is therefore genuinely independent. The fee also funds radio channels, transmitters and the BBC web sites.
The two main BBC TV channels are watched by almost 90 percent of the population each week and overall have 27 per cent share of total viewing. This in spite of the fact that 85% of homes are multichannel, with 42% of these having access to 200 free to air channels via satellite and another 43% having access to 30 or more channels via Freeview. The licence that funds the seven advertising-free BBC TV channels costs less than £136 a year (about US$270) irrespective of the number of TV sets owned. When the same sporting event has been presented on both BBC and commercial channels, the BBC always attracts the lion's share of the audience, indicating viewers prefer to watch TV uninterrupted by advertising.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) carries no advertising (except for the ABC shop) as it is banned under lawABC Act 1983. The ABC receives its funding from the Australian Government every three years. In the 2006/07 Federal Budget the ABC received Au$822.67 Million this covers most of the ABC funding commitments. The ABC also receives funds from its many ABC Shops in Australia. Subscription
Some TV channels are partly funded from subscriptions and therefore the signals are encrypted before broadcast to ensure that only paying subscribers have access to the decryption codes. Most subscription services are also funded by advertising.

Television genres

Television genres include a broad range of programming types that entertain, inform, and educate viewers. The most expensive entertainment genres to produce are usually drama and dramatic miniseries. However, other genres, such as historical Western genres, may also have high production costs.
Popular entertainment genres include action-oriented shows such as police, crime, detective dramas, horror or thriller shows. As well, there are also other variants of the drama genre, such as medical dramas and daytime soap operas. Science fiction shows can fall into either the drama or action category, depending on whether they emphasize philosophical questions or high adventure. Comedy is a popular genre which includes situation comedy (sitcom) and animated shows for the adult demographic such as ''South Park".
The least expensive forms of entertainment programming are game shows, talk shows, variety shows, and reality TV. Game shows show contestants answering questions and solving puzzles to win prizes. Talk shows feature interviews with film, television and music celebrities and public figures. Variety shows feature a range of musical performers and other entertainers such as comedians and magicians introduced by a host or Master of Ceremonies. There is some crossover between some talk shows and variety shows, because leading talk shows often feature performances by bands, singers, comedians, and other performers in between the interview segments. Reality TV shows "regular" people (i.e., not actors) who are facing unusual challenges or experiences, ranging from arrest by police officers (COPS) to weight loss (The Biggest Loser). A variant version of reality shows depicts celebrities doing mundane activities such as going about their everyday life (The Osbournes) or doing manual labour (Simple Life).

Social aspects

Television has played a pivotal role in the socialization of the 20th and 21st centuries. There are many social aspects of television that can be addressed, including:

Environmental aspects

With high lead content in CRTs, and the rapid diffusion of new, flat-panel display technologies, some of which (LCDs) use lamps containing mercury, there is growing concern about electronic waste from discarded televisions. Related occupational health concerns exist, as well, for disassemblers removing copper wiring and other materials from CRTs. Further environmental concerns related to television design and use relate to the devices' increasing electrical energy requirements.

In numismatics

Television has had such an impact in today's life, that it has been the main motif for numerous collectors' coins and medals. One of the most recent ones is the Austrian 50 years of Television commemorative coin minted in March 9 2005. The obverse of the coin shows a "test pattern", while the reverse shows several milestones in the history of television.

Further reading

sisterlinks Television
  • Albert Abramson, The History of Television, 1942 to 2000, Jefferson, NC, and London, McFarland, 2003, ISBN 0786412208.
  • Pierre Bourdieu, On Television, The New Press, 2001.
  • Tim Brooks and Earle March, The Complete Guide to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 8th ed., Ballantine, 2002.
  • Jacques Derrida and Bernard Stiegler, Echographies of Television, Polity Press, 2002.
  • David E. Fisher and Marshall J. Fisher, Tube: the Invention of Television, Counterpoint, Washington, DC, 1996, ISBN 1887178171.
  • Steven Johnson, Everything Bad is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter, New York, Riverhead (Penguin), 2005, 2006, ISBN 1594481946.
  • Jerry Mander, Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, Perennial, 1978.
  • Jerry Mander, In the Absence of the Sacred, Sierra Club Books, 1992, ISBN 0871565099.
  • Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, New York, Penguin US, 1985, ISBN 0670804541.
  • Evan I. Schwartz, The Last Lone Inventor: A Tale of Genius, Deceit, and the Birth of Television, New York, Harper Paperbacks, 2003, ISBN 0060935596.
  • Beretta E. Smith-Shomade, Shaded Lives: African-American Women and Television, Rutgers University Press, 2002.
  • Alan Taylor, We, the Media: Pedagogic Intrusions into US Mainstream Film and Television News Broadcasting Rhetoric, Peter Lang, 2005, ISBN 3631518528.

External links

television in Afrikaans: Televisie
television in Amharic: ቴሌቪዥን
television in Old English (ca. 450-1100): Feorrsīen
television in Arabic: تلفاز
television in Asturian: Televisión
television in Min Nan: Tiān-sī
television in Banyumasan: Televisi
television in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Тэлебачаньне
television in Bosnian: Televizija
television in Bulgarian: Телевизия
television in Catalan: Televisió
television in Czech: Televizor
television in Welsh: Teledu
television in Danish: Tv
television in Pennsylvania German: Guckbax
television in German: Fernsehen
television in Estonian: Televisioon
television in Modern Greek (1453-): Τηλεόραση
television in Emiliano-Romagnolo: Televisiån
television in Spanish: Televisión
television in Esperanto: Televido
television in Basque: Telebista
television in Persian: تلویزیون
television in French: Télévision
television in Western Frisian: Televyzje
television in Irish: Teilifís
television in Scottish Gaelic: Telebhisean
television in Galician: Televisión
television in Kikuyu: Terebiceni
television in Korean: 텔레비전
television in Croatian: Televizija
television in Ido: Televiziono
television in Indonesian: Televisi
television in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Television
television in Icelandic: Sjónvarp
television in Italian: Televisione
television in Hebrew: טלוויזיה
television in Kurdish: Televîzyon
television in Latin: Televisio
television in Latvian: Televīzija
television in Luxembourgish: Televisioun
television in Lithuanian: Televizija
television in Hungarian: Televízió
television in Macedonian: Телевизија
television in Malayalam: ടെലിവിഷന്‍
television in Malay (macrolanguage): Televisyen
television in Dutch: Televisie
television in Dutch Low Saxon: Tillevisie
television in Nepali: टेलिभिजन
television in Japanese: テレビ
television in Norwegian: Fjernsyn
television in Narom: Télévision
television in Novial: Televisione
television in Occitan (post 1500): Television
television in Low German: Kiekschapp
television in Polish: Telewizja
television in Portuguese: Televisão
television in Romanian: Televiziune
television in Quechua: Ñawikaruy
television in Russian: Телевидение
television in Samoan: Televise
television in Scots: Televeesion
television in Albanian: Televizioni
television in Simple English: Television
television in Slovak: Televízia
television in Slovenian: Televizija
television in Serbian: Телевизија
television in Finnish: Televisio
television in Swedish: Television
television in Tagalog: Telebisyon
television in Tamil: தொலைக்காட்சி
television in Kabyle: Tiliẓri
television in Thai: โทรทัศน์
television in Vietnamese: Tivi
television in Turkish: Televizyon
television in Ukrainian: Телебачення
television in Urdu: بعید نما
television in Venetian: Tełevixion
television in Võro: Televis'uun
television in Yiddish: טעלעוויזיע
television in Contenese: 電視
television in Dimli: Televizyon
television in Samogitian: Televėzėjė
television in Chinese: 电视

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

TV, advice, adviser, announcer, annunciator, authority, automation, avionics, box, broadcast journalism, channel, communicant, communicator, electron microscopy, electron optics, electron physics, electronic engineering, electronics, electrophysics, enlightener, expert witness, gossipmonger, grapevine, informant, information, information center, information medium, informer, intelligence, interviewee, journalism, line radio, monitor, mouthpiece, news, news agency, news medium, news service, newsiness, newsletter, newsmagazine, newsmonger, newspaper, newsworthiness, notifier, photoelectricity, press, press association, public relations officer, publisher, radar, radio, radionics, radiophotography, radiotelegraphy, radiotelephony, reportage, reporter, source, spokesman, telegraph agency, teller, telly, the fourth estate, the press, tidings, tipster, tout, transistor physics, tube, wire service, wire wave communication, wired radio, wired wireless, wireless, wireless telegraphy, wireless telephony, witness, word
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