makes possible a kind of long-term distribution never before available. Though the balance of power between Hollywood and other national industries may not be easily redressed, the loosening of avenues of distribution and changing circumstances of exhibition at least provide more possibilities than ever before.
The boundaries set between television and the cinema, shaped as they were in the very specific conditions of the 1950s and 1960s, can now be seen as far more arbitrary, and far less necessary, than the discourses inherited from these earlier periods would have us believe. Definitions set as long ago as the 1920s enforced distinctions and erected barriers that impeded a freer adaptation of old forms to new, and restricted potential audiences and uses of developing media. It was the introduction of new technology that, in most cases, finally broke down these now transparent and largely obsolete distinctions. However, new technology does not develop by itself, but serves to open avenues for competing sets of institutional interests to intervene forcefully in established arrangements. Though technology may provide the opportunity for change, it is shifting political and economic alliances that either spur or slow technological growth, and determine how such technology will be used.
Thus, television did not develop-as popular myth would have it -- as a new and potent interloper which conquered cinema by capturing its audience. It developed as an adjustment of a complex set of interests already arranged along mutually contested and shifting lines. In this relationship broadcasters, cinema producers, distributors and exhibitors, and the regulatory apparatus of the State play the major roles. It is in the balance of power between these forces established in the 1950s and 1960s that our everyday understanding of the basic meaning of 'film' and 'television' was formed, and which the advent of new technologies of distribution in the 1980s and 1990s begins to overturn.
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The Hollywood film industry entered a new age in June 1975, with the release of Steven Spielberg's Jaws. Two years later, George Lucas's Star Wars spectacularly confirmed that a single film could earn its studio hundreds of millions of dollars in profits, and convert a poor year into a triumph. The place of movies within the Hollywood production system changed; increasingly the focus was on high-cost, potentially highly lucrative 'special attractions' -- leaving the studio mogul-managers to look for regular, predictable cash flows from the 'ancillary' markets of television series production and, from the mid 1980s, videocassette sales.
Although important changes occurred in Hollywood movie-making, the major transformation in this period was in where fans watched Hollywood's offerings. The rise of the made-for-TV movie, the introduction of cable (and satellite) film channels, and particularly the home video revolution, transformed film viewing in the 1970s and 1980s.
This began in the mid- 1970s as the TV movie expanded into the mini-series, and millions of Americans viewed critically acclaimed series like War and Remembrance and Lonesome Dove. The average made-for-TV drama, however, is a successor to Hollywood's B movies of the past, and mini-series like Hollywood Wives or The Thorn Birds are regularly produced and give a big boost to ratings. Since the turnaround time from production to presentation is so short, made-for-TV films can deal with topical issues, as in 1983 when The Day After provoked a national discussion about the possibility of nuclear disaster.
At around the same time, the world of cable television in the United States was transformed by Time Inc.'s innovative Home Box Office (HBO). For a monthly fee of about $10, cable television subscribers could see recent Hollywood motion pictures -- uncut, uninterrupted by commercials, and not sanitized to please network censors. For