By Meg Cater
When most of us think about television, what immediately comes to mind is the latest show we’re addicted to or perhaps how destructive too much of it can be on the developing brains of our youth. But TV has long played a role at the center of democratic, free speech and social movements across the globe, depending on the level of government control over the medium.
The positive impact television has on societal evolution is something a group of European television associations (egta and ACT) and media organizations around the world want to remind us of by celebrating today, November 21, as World TV Day.
“Television [is] a cornerstone of democracy and a pillar of freedom of expression and cultural diversity,” says the sponsors of World TV Day their website. “It nurtures education, continually invites people to explore beyond their living rooms and arouses curiosity.”
The World TV Day project lists nine reasons why TV is good for the world, from creating community and inspiring the mind to giving voice to good causes and stimulating the economy.
But TV is a complex picture and, like the Internet, reflects and reveals the best and worst of humanity to our selves. Some of the most poignant insights on the World TV Day website come from artists like Austrian singer, Conchita Wurst:
“The power of television is like every power: It has its good and its bad sides. It can help spreading a wonderful message, an idea, art, news, sports, movies and entertainment. Television is also used for propaganda against ideas, against artists, against minorities. The responsibility of those, who make television, is a huge one. I was a lucky person. I had the opportunity to sing in front of 190 million people and spread a message of love, respect and tolerance. A message that couldn’t have reached so many people without the simple existence of television.”
The Internet of Things and Video
TV is also an integral aspect of computer technology, growing up alongside advances in computing until the recent merger that is shaping the future of both industries. Hans Vestburg, CEO of Ericsson, probably says it best:
“Television is an endlessly fascinating medium because it’s changing all the time. It’s incredible when you think about it – the advances in the technology we’ve seen and the huge explosion in the amount of content we can access as a TV viewer. In the emerging Networked Society, we at Ericsson envision that everything that benefits from a connection will have one – and we anticipate that by 2020 there will be at least 50 billion connected devices, 15 billion of which will offer video to users. And that’s what TV is about in today’s world – making the world a smaller place by making communication across the globe easier. People love to watch great TV, it really is that simple, and our job is to continue to make it better and better. Television is undergoing a huge transformation behind the scenes and I am so excited about continuing to be part of the changing face of the media industry as we bring connectivity and great content to the masses.”
That transformation behind the scenes is exciting and it is also a responsibility.
World TV Day is perhaps best because it encourages us all to reflect on TV’s history and future as more than just entertainment.