The Sponsor: Notes on a Modern Potentate by Erik Barnouw

By Erik Barnouw

The tv sponsor has turn into semi-mythical. he's distant and unseen, yet omnipresent. Dramas, soccer video games, and press meetings pause for a "word" from him. He "makes attainable" concert events and public affairs publicizes. His "underwriting offers" brings the viewer song gala's and vintage motion pictures. Interviews with vacationing statesmen are interrupted for him, to proceed "in a moment." Sponsorship is simple to American tv. Even noncommercial tv appears to be like to it for survival. an unlimited has grown up round the wishes and needs of sponsors. Television's application formulation, enterprise practices, and rankings have all advanced in how you can fulfill sponsor necessities. certainly, he has develop into a potentate of our time. The Sponsor is split into 3 components. In "Rise," Barnouw sketches the upward push of the sponsor, in either radio and tv, to his current country of eminence. In "Domain," the sponsor's pervasive impression on tv programming is tested, with an emphasis on community tv, the fundamental area of the undefined. And in "Prospect," Barnouw assesses what such dominance has intended for American society, mores, and associations- and what it could possibly suggest for our destiny. this can be a gripping quantity approximately strength, the way it not just impacts programming itself, yet the way it defines for the common individual what's reliable, nice, and fascinating.

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At the bottom of the hierarchy would be "local" stations, serving small areas, and therefore very restricted in power, and in some cases confined to daytime hours to minimize interference. Most were part-time stations. AT&T took the position that the stations owned by others, including college-owned stations, were all "special-interest" stations, whereas a "toll" station was for everybody and should therefore have preferential treatment. Hoover apparently accepted this argument: WEAF won a clear channel.

Thus the system—soon to be known as "the American system of broadcasting"—entered its nationwide network phase. But its promoters dared not say so—not yet. NATIONAL In the dramatic full-page announcements—September 1926—of the creation of the National Broadcasting Company, such words 22 THE SPONSOR as "advertising," "toll," and "sponsor" did not appear. To the reader, the rationale for the creation of NBC seemed to be the same as for the launching of KDKA, but looking to a nationwide reach. RCA estimated that 5 million homes already had radios while 21 million remained to be equipped.

How achieve all this? Sponsors of all leading network programs began to receive a deluge of requests from government agencies and volunteer services. Would Bob Hope please plug the nursing campaign? Would Bing Crosby do a war bond announcement? If Mary Margaret McBride would only explain about saving cans, the campaign would be won. An "avoid rumor" message by Walter Winchell could save thousands of lives. Such requests began before Pearl Harbor, and became a deluge thereafter. Some producers said that if they honored all requests there would be no time for the programs.

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