What Is Television?
Television is just another appliance. It's a toaster with pictures.
--Mark Fowler, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission
Television is a machine. It is an electronic device for encoding and transmitting signals that, with the proper equipment, can be received and decoded as a "picture with sound" ready to be perceived and understood by a human being. This fact alone, together with its amazingly broad appeal, makes television a wonderful machine, a truly marvelous toy. But it is much more than simply that.
Mr. Fowler, a man in a position to know better, is too modest. Television is not just "a toaster with pictures." It is also an industry that manufactures and distributes these pictures to millions of homes, an industry that profits from the sale of the audience gathered in front of the machine. Advertisers pay for the temporary use of these masses of viewers so that they may deliver a short and lively message for their clients, large companies with nationwide distribution systems. This "toaster" has the shape of an octopus with tentacles into almost every home in the United States. It has the power to generate millions of dol-____________________