Cinema and television are generally thought of as distinct, whether as industrial practices or as viewing experiences. In fact the two have been quite closely interwoven, ever since television first emerged as a possible rival to cinema on an industrial scale. This was particularly true in the United States, where crossover between radio and cinema interests began in the 1920s, extending to television with the start of commercial television broadcasting in 1939. In European countries, where broadcasting was in the hands of state monopolies, they remained separate for longer, but since the 1950s there has been a growing convergence at all levels. By the 1980s, with the advent of large-screen television on the one hand and home video on the other, all the distinctions had become blurred. Electronic formats are increasingly used for cinema presentation; the same companies produce material for both cinema and television; and films made for the cinema are more often viewed on the television screen (whether broadcast or on video) than in theatres.
In the United States, broadcasting developed as a system of privately owned, commercial stations tied together by two great networks and ineffectively regulated by the federal government. Hollywood studios first proposed an alternative programming structure which would have supported broadcasting from box-office profits. Paramount and MGM attempted to initiate their own film-based radio networks in the late 1920s, using film talent under contract to provide entertainment with publicity value in promoting films. However, a combination of exhibitors' objections and inability to obtain the necessary connecting land lines from AT&T blocked these efforts, and the studios turned to station ownership and the provision of talent to the advertising agencies and sponsors who produced the bulk of radio programming in the 1930s and 1940s. Hollywood stars and properties figured large in radio's golden age. Paramount purchased an interest in CBS in 1928, which it was forced to surrender under financial pressure in 1932; Paramount, MGM, and Warner Bros. all operated radio stations in the 1920s and 1930s. By the same token, in 1929 the Radio Corporation of America, operator of the NBC network, formed its own film company, RKO, in part to market its sound-on-film system, but also as a source of radio programming.
Thus US broadcasting and film interests, though providing differentiated product, were already highly integrated in the years prior to the introduction of television. Within the highly commodified competitive environment of US mass media, there was struggle over the form and audiences appropriate to broadcasting and film. Although broadcasting, with its need to accommodate commercial advertising messages, developed a shorter, segmented, frequently disrupted discursive structure built around such broadcasting-specific forms as the situation comedy, the daytime serial, and the quiz programme, Hollywood's influence showed up particularly in movie-adaptation programmes such as the Lux Radio Theater, hour-long drama, and the musical variety show.
In return, radio stars and properties formed a significant part of Hollywood's film output in the 1930s and 1940s. Stars such as Amos and Andy ( Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll), Rudy Vallee, Bing Crosby, and many other lesser lights made films based on their radio personalities. Following AT&T's federally mandated restructuring of land line rates in 1936, radio production moved to the west coast, where each of the major networks built their main studios. Despite federal regulation which consistently favoured the interests of the large radio corporations over those of the film companies -- already considered too powerful in their own field and subject to frequent anti-trust complaints -- Hollywood took a lively interest in and received considerable economic benefit from broadcasting activities, and had every reason to expect to play a role in the emerging television industry.
In contrast, European radio generally followed a public service model with broadcasting facilities and programming owned and/or controlled by the State, from which cinema interests were not only economically removed but conceptually distinct. Though the British film industry, for example, had benefited from protective legislation since the 1920s, it was a commercial industry opera-