July 12, 1944

Report Outline
Rapid Vs. Restrained Commercial Exploitation
Scientific Foundations of Television
Television in Europe and the United States

Rapid Vs. Restrained Commercial Exploitation

Television Policies of Communication Commissions

The Question whether the radio industry shall be permitted to undertake full-scale commercial development of television before the close of the war, or whether such development shall be delayed pending further advances in the art, is now awaiting decision by the Federal Communications Commission. Shortages of labor and materials, added to the demands of the armed forces for communications equipment, have prevented any notable expansion in this field during the last three years. With the war on its way to being won, the F. C. C. is now being urged to set aside present restraints and permit immediate exploitation of the possibilities of television on a national scale. It is argued that such a policy, in addition to providing employment for the transition period, would permit advance development of an advertising medium which promises to be highly effective in creating quick markets for new and unfamiliar goods.

Until some six months before the United States entered the present war, the F. C. C. followed a generally conservative policy in regard to the commercial expansion of television, and repeatedly emphasized the need for continued research. In February, 1940, the commission issued regulations permitting “limited commercialization,” but when the Radio Corporation of America began an advertising campaign to sell receiving sets to the public at prices ranging up to $395, the commission warned that the receivers might quickly become obsolete and that “economic loss to the public … would be occasioned by premature purchase in a rapidly advancing field.” Television, it said, was here to stay, but today's receivers might conceivably be outmoded tomorrow.

James L. Fly, chairman of the commission, elaborated the reasons for caution in a radio address in April, 1940. In the case of broadcasts of sound, he said, there had been no change in the fundamental standards for transmission and reception since radio came into use twenty years earlier. “A receiver built to receive a broadcasting station operating in 1920 will receive a station that operates in 1940.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Apr. 11, 2014  Future of TV
Nov. 09, 2012  Indecency on Television
Aug. 27, 2010  Reality TV
Jun. 20, 2008  Transition to Digital TV
Feb. 16, 2007  Television's Future
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Oct. 29, 1999  Public Broadcasting
Aug. 15, 1997  Children's Television
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Feb. 17, 1989  A High-Tech, High-Stakes HDTV Gamble
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Sep. 07, 1984  New Era in TV Sports
Sep. 24, 1982  Cable TV's Future
Apr. 24, 1981  Public Broadcasting's Uncertain Future
May 09, 1980  Television in the Eighties
Oct. 25, 1972  Public Broadcasting in Britain and America
Mar. 26, 1971  Video Revolution: Cassettes and Recorders
Sep. 09, 1970  Cable Television: The Coming Medium
May 15, 1968  Television and Politics
Mar. 01, 1967  Financing of Educational TV
Dec. 16, 1964  Community Antenna Television
Oct. 21, 1964  Sports on Television
Feb. 28, 1962  Expansion of Educational Television
Aug. 28, 1957  Television in the Schools
Jan. 18, 1957  Movie-TV Competition
Sep. 06, 1955  Television and the 1956 Campaign
May 18, 1954  Educational Television
Sep. 03, 1953  Changing Fortunes of the Movie Business
Apr. 20, 1953  Televising Congress
May 31, 1951  Television in Education
Jan. 26, 1949  Television Boom
Jul. 12, 1944  Television
Radio and Television
Regulation and Legal Issues