New Internationalist

The Facts

January 1983

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TELEVISION [image, unknown] The invention of a medium

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The international image

An hour of polished TV can cost $200,000 to make. So smaller countries, with hours of empty schedules to fill, buy their entertainment second-hand. Charges vary according to audience size - Uganda may pay as little as $200 per hour. But along with the time-fillers you get - free of charge - the values of Dallas or Brideshead Revisited.

The chart below estimates the import content of the worlds TV channels (in black). The figures are for 1970/71, the latest worldwide survey available, but are not thought to have changed greatly.

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For the record...

Two-thirds of all video recorders in the world are concentrated in just four countries. The end-year estimate for each of these in 1982 is shown on the right

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per '000
Total recorders
1. U.K
2. W.Germany
3. Japan
4. USA
Source: Screen Digest, May 1982

Australia and New Zealand have 36 and 18 recorders per thousand people respectively, Canadian figures not available. The Arab states may well have more recorders per person than anyone. Certainly the largest Sony dealer in the world is in Dubai - Jumbo Electronics sells 100,000 recorders per year, though about 60 per cent of these are for export.

Recession - hit Britain’s unlikely pre- eminence in this field is thought to be connected with the tradition of renting TVs. Around 70 per cent of British video recorders are rented.

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Out of sight...

TV may be more immediate than print - but doesn’t necessarily communicate.

• The National Association of Broadcasting in the US tested viewers immediately after a news bulletin and found that 51 % could not recall a single news item.

• Even when viewers in another study in nine US cities were reminded what the stories were, they could remember on average the central point of a little more than half.

• According to the Finnish Broadcasting

Company: ‘Interviews carried out immediately after the news have shown that in general, little if anything is remembered of the content Unsystematic details which are retained are subsequently formed into a whole which may be faulty.

Source: Journal of Broadcasting, Summer 1981

How the average American spends his or her day
Work 16%
Travel 3%
Eating 8%
Child care 2%
Shopping 3%
Sleeping 32%
Housework 8%
Personal care 5%
TV 9%
Othermedia 2%
Sport / hobbies 2%
Other entertainment 5%
Miscellaneous 5%
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Casting adrift

[image, unknown] US studies of TV casting show the world of television to have a very strange composition.

• Men are half the population, but have occupied between 66% and 75% of all TV roles for the past 25 years.

• Women make up 40% of the labour force but only 20% of TV roles having a definite occupation are held by women.

• Women in general are shown as vulnerable. Only 23% of operations on women in TV hospitals are successful, compared with 70% for men.

Source: T.A.T. Viewer's Guide (See worth reading)

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The daily dose

[image, unknown] The average US high school graduate has spent 15,000 hours in front of the TV and 11,000 hours in the classroom.

ADULTS in Australia, Canada, the USA and the UK view about two hours a day, though certain parts of the community watch more. A study in Australia showed that adult viewers were more likely to be female, old and poor.

CHILDREN in these countries view two to three hours a day. Viewing reaches a peak in pre-teen years and then declines. In Canada, for example, children of 2-6yrs. watch 20 hours a week, while those from 7 - 11 yrs. watch 22 hours.

According to UNESCO, the introduction of TV in twelve countries resulted in a decrease in household care, personal grooming and social engagements but increased the time devoted to home-centred activities like child care.

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TV Chart-toppers

How nations with TV systems line up in order of sets per person.


1. USA 635
2. Monaco 607
3. Kuwait 490
4. Canada 472
5. Australia 3.87
6. Sweden 372
7. United Kingdom 357
8. Denmark 355
9. Finland 355
10. Qatar 353
11. West Germany 352
12. France 313
13. East Germany 312
14. Austria 306
15. Belgium 304
16. Switzerland 302
17. Norway 293
18. Netherlands 289
19. USSR 280
20. Gibraltar 275
21. New Zealand 273
22. Bahrain 266
23. Malta 263
24. Iceland 262
25. Czechoslovakia 259


107. Pakistan 9.6 50,000
108. Zambia 7.0 520,000
109. Afghanistan 6,5 11,000
110. Nigeria 6.0 450,000
111. Burundi 4.0 19,000
112. Ghana 4.0 40,000
113. Kenya 4.0 61,000
114. Uganda 4.0 50,000
115. Indonesia 3.5 550,000
116. Equatorial Guinea 3.0 1,000
117. Haiti 3.0 15,000
118. China 2.0 2,000,000
119. Congo 2.0 3,300
120. Zaire 2.0 8.000
121. Mongolia 2.3 3,500
122. Sri-Lanka 1.7 25,000
123. Ethiopia 1.0 31,000
124. India 1.0 675,000
125. Madagascar 1.0 8.500
126. Senegal 0.75 5,000
127. Togo 0.69 1,600
128. Tanzania 0.36 5,800
129. Bangladesh 0.25 21.000
130. Central Afncan Rep 0.20 400
131. Niger 0.007 325
Source: Television/Radio Age International

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This feature was published in the January 1983 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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