Also called "spectrum" or the "electromagnetic spectrum"; the medium through which radio or television signals are transmitted. These signals travel through the air (unlike the signals transmitted by telephone or cable wires). Almost every household in America has a television that receives free programming that is sent over the airwaves by local TV or radio stations.
A storage or transmission of information by a variable physical means, such as shifts in voltage sent through the airwaves or the vibrations of a stylus against patterns inside the grooves of a vinyl disc; to create physical (analogous) patterns of pictures or sounds. Standard broadcasting and the way old "record players" worked (before CDs) are analog.
The capacity of a telecom line to carry signals. The necessary bandwidth is the amount of spectrum required to transmit the signal without distortion or loss of information.
Bias in news reporting is the intentional effort on the part of a reporter or editor to slant content in a way that conforms to a prejudice against a person or a group.
Broadband is a descriptive term for evolving digital technologies that provide consumers with a signal switched facility that offers integrated access to voice, high-speed data, video-demand, and interactive delivery services.
Transmitting electromagnetic signals through the airwaves over a wide area, as in television or radio. Such signals may also be transmitted point-to-point, as in microwave transmission, and are referred to as "narrowcasting." Broadcasting also refers to the radio and television broadcast industry, and broadcasters are those who work in the industry. To broadcast is to participate in a TV or radio program, and a broadcast may also be synonymous with a TV or radio program.
Official communication routes. The Federal Communications Commission designates a channel (or spectrum frequency) for a radio or television station to ensure that the stations do not interfere with each others' signal. Channels are commonly known to viewers as the numbers on TV dials corresponding to individual local stations. Channel assignments vary widely by market: for example, ABC's affiliate can be channel 7 in one market, but channel 4 in another. Cable systems may designate a channel on their service that differs from the channel location given a broadcast station by the government.
The coming together of television, Internet, film, and other media outlets to create multidirectional media with interactive potential.
The concept that the new information technologies create divisions between those who have access and those who do not. While the development of information technologies can result in new forms of wealth and employment, this development can also give rise to an elite, skilled group of individuals who control those technologies—while others lack access and skills. The digital divide is seen to further separate groups of different ages, gender, and socio-economic status, and affect access and accessibility for individuals with disabilities.
DIGITAL TV (DTV)
The next generation in television, DTV broadcasters will use the language of computers and the Internet (i.e., bits: ones and zeros) to transmit a large amount of information to home TV receivers. Because much more information is sent as compared to standard analog television, these pictures will be much sharper and more detailed. DTV broadcasters will also be able to send additional text, such as sports scores and closed-captioning.
DIRECT BROADCAST SATELLITE (DBS/DISH)
A high-powered satellite that transmits or retransmits signals that are intended for direct reception by the public. The signal is transmitted to a small earth station or dish (usually the size of an 18-inch pizza pan) mounted on homes or other buildings.
Distortion in news reporting refers to the creation of a false or misleading impression arising from factors other than personal prejudice, such as ignorance of or inexperience with the topic, dependence on sources with hidden biases, lack of professional standards, and reliance on widespread cultural attitudes.
Also called "electronic mail," e-mail refers to messages sent over the Internet. E-mail can be sent and received via newer types of wireless phones, but this generally requires a specific e-mail account.
High-definition television is television with a wider and finer image, which requires specific production and broadcast standards.
"Indecent programming contains what contemporary community standards would define as patently offensive sexual or excretory references that do not rise to the level of obscenity. Thus, the courts have held that indecent material is protected by the First Amendment and cannot be banned entirely. It may, however, be restricted to avoid its broadcast during times of the day when there is a reasonable risk that children may be in the audience" (www.fcc.org).
Obscene programming is not protected by the First Amendment and may never be broadcast. To qualify as obscene, programming must meet a three-pronged test established by the U.S. Supreme Court:
- An average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the material, as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest.
- The material must depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law.
- The material, taken as a whole, must lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
The concept that, in return for using the public airwaves free of charge, the broadcaster is obligated to act as a trustee of public property and do what is best for the public good. The "public" has always meant the local community to which broadcasters are licensed to serve. "Interest" has always meant "to benefit the public"—as distinct from programs for which the public is interested. Public interest obligations, for example, are those specific actions broadcasters undertake in exchange for their free license to repay the public for using the public airwaves (or broadcast spectrum).
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS (PSAs)
Commercial-like announcements providing advice on an issue of importance, such as "Take a Bite Out of Crime," "Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk," or the Catholic Communication Campaign's "Talk to the Ones You Love." These announcements can be highly produced or simple notices of a local event.
The range of electromagnetic radio frequencies used in the transmission of sound, data, and television. Also called "the airwaves."
Under the Three-Hour Rule (first implemented during the 1997-98 season), broadcasters who wish to have their license renewals expedited are required to air a minimum of three hours per week of "core" educational and informational (E/I) programming that meets the cognitive/intellectual or social/emotional needs of children. Broadcasters that choose to air fewer than three hours each week of E/I programs must undergo a full FCC evaluation to show evidence that they have served the child audience in other significant ways.
Beginning January 1, 2001, the manufacture of all television sets with picture screens 13 inches or larger must include technological features that block television programming based on its rating. This technology is known as the "V-Chip." The V-Chip reads information encoded in the rated program and blocks programs from the set based upon the ratings selected by the parent.
Glossary definitions of "airwaves," "analog," "broadcasting," "channels," "digital TV," "public interest," and "public service announcements" are courtesy of People for Better TV, 818 18th St. NW, Ste. 505, Washington, DC 20006; website: www.bettertv.org. Used with permission. Definitions of "convergence," "digital divide," "HDTV," "three-hour rule," and "V-chip" are from Electronic Media & Kids: A Guide to the Issues, by KIDSNET, 6856 Eastern Avenue NW, Ste. 208, Washington, DC 20012; website: www.kidsnet.org. Copyright © 2001. Used with permission. Definitions of "bias" and "distortion" are from Insights and Answers on Media Bias, from the U.S. Catholic bishops. All other definitions are from the Federal Communications Commission.