World Television Day: Reasons to Celebrate

November 21st is World Television Day – an opportunity to celebrate the positive influence TV wields in the arenas of culture, society and the economy.

The small screen’s prowess as a source of entertainment is apparent to all of us blessed with access; yet in an age where uncertainty ripples through each of these three human constructs, it’s important to acknowledge the value TV can bring to people across the world in other ways. So, let’s do just that.

TV brings people together

TV Brings People Together

A belief shared by many people is that television fragments communities and isolates individuals, and this may – to an extent, at least – be true from a physical viewpoint. Yet, focusing on this alone is to avoid the fact that society has evolved; the way we interact with others and satisfy our gregarious impulses has moved towards virtual realms untethered from the constraints of time and distance.

Now, television acts as the touch paper for online conversation; we live in an age where previously distinct media channels have merged to form a connected landscape of multiple screens often used together simultaneously. For TV viewers – especially young adults aged 16-34 – TV is now a shared experience that stretches beyond the confines of the living room and into the domain of social media, where conversations about favourite shows and even adverts connect friends and strangers alike.

TV is great for the economy

TV is good for the economy

Another positive effect of TV is the contributions it makes to national economies. In the UK, the small screen provides millions of pounds in revenue every year: from the thousands of jobs the industry creates; the growth that TV advertising drives for scores of businesses big and small; and the tourism that internationally-renowned productions such as Downton Abbey draw.

TV encourages competition across all sectors; it provides companies with the platform to launch new products and market them with scale and efficiency, with its power to both reach huge audiences and target more specific groups of viewers in turn driving demand, creating customer choice, and providing a catalyst for consumer spending – a crucial ingredient of a functioning Capitalist economy.

TV is an educational tool

TV is educational

Television creates a window to the world that widens our understanding of global events, current affairs and cultural diversity. It stimulates a curiosity towards areas of interest that may otherwise remain unchartered, whilst also helping us to build a sense of who we are, why we’re here and where we’re going. Through news broadcasts, weather updates, historical, nature and cultural documentaries, and debates, we’re able to form an understanding of both our own environment, and those of others around the world. Whilst the internet has taken on a greater role in this regard, TV remains a crucial, regular source of information that viewers around the world still rely on daily.

For children, television plays an integral role in learning during formative years. Through kids programming, future generations learn about a variety of subjects and explore places, people and things they could not gain access to otherwise. TV also informs and inspires, lighting fires in the minds of children when they’re at their most inquisitive and engaged. Provided parents tightly control the amount and type of telly their children watch, the medium stands to play a crucial role in preparing youngsters for the big wide world.

TV provides an invaluable public service

TV provides an invaluable public service

The sheer reach of TV distinguishes the medium as a hugely impactful resource in the area of public service. Through it, broadcasters and advertisers have the power to inspire positive change in how we view and frame representations of diversity – a point being given increasing prominence within the UK industry. Additionally, TV gives people a voice; it democratises debate and invites the public to consider and tackle key topics of societal interest.

Moreover, TV advertising grants governments, charities and non-profit organisations the opportunity to raise awareness of initiatives and causes that can improve and even save lives. For example, in 2012 a campaign from the British Heart Foundation featuring Vinnie Jones sought to educate viewers on how to respond if someone suffers a heart attack – it has since been credited with saving multiple lives. Similarly, a campaign from the NHS that highlighted the key symptoms to look out for with a stroke has been influential in raising public awareness – its core message of ‘F.A.S.T’ having since become the widely acknowledged blueprint for detecting the onset of a stroke.

Aware of this power, many media buying agencies in the UK implement a policy wherein charities receive discounted TV airtime rates. 

There’s potential for more

The future of TV

With nearly 100% of all households in developed countries now owning a television, and 69% of homes in developing countries also having access, huge strides have been made in bringing the medium’s positive effects to the entire world. Clearly, more still needs to be done to ensure poorer areas around the globe are included in this telecoms revolution, and this is a challenge that we should be tackling with gusto – with new connected technologies, NGO initiatives and improving data networks all helping to extend the tendrils of TV ownership ever further.

Back home, connected devices, an unprecedented choice in channels and ever-improving targeted advertising capabilities continue to enhance the medium and the value it offers to both viewers and advertisers – a balance the industry continues to refine with every passing year.