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MASS MEDIA IN THE USA

The media of the United States consist of several different types of communications media:
television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and Internet-based Web sites. The U.S. also has a strong
music industry.
Many of the media are controlled by large for-profit corporations who reap revenue from
advertising, subscriptions, and sale of copyrighted material. American media conglomerates tend to
be leading global players, generating large profits as well as large criticism in many parts of the
world. Further deregulation and convergence are under way, leading to mega-mergers, further
concentration of media ownership, and the emergence of multinational media conglomerates.
Critics allege that localism, local news and other content at the community level, media spending
and coverage of news, and diversity of ownership and views have suffered as a result of these
processes of media concentration.

1. Radio in the USA
National Public Radio* is the nation’s primary public radio network, but most radio stations
are commercial and profit-oriented.
American radio broadcasts in two bands: FM and AM.
AM has shifted mainly to all-news format. Talk radio usually features a host, a celebrity or an
expert on some subject, and the opportunity for listeners to call in and ask questions or express
opinion on the air.
The call-in format is now heard on nearly 1 000 of the 10 000 commercial radio stations in the
US.
FM came to dominate the music side of the programming. Besides the 10 000 comercial
radion stations, the USA has 1 400 public radio satations. Most of these are run by universities and
other public institutions for educational purposes and are financed by public funds and private
donations.
A new form of radio that is gaining popularity is satellite radio. The two biggest subscriptions
based radio services are Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio, which have recently both
merged together to form Sirius XM Radio. Unlike terrestrial radio music channels are commercial
free and other channels feature very minimal commercials. Satellite radio is not regulated by the
FCC**.

2. Television in the USA
Television is one of the major media of the United States. In an expansive country of more
than 300 million people, television programs are some of the few things that nearly all Americans
can share. Ninety-nine percent of American households have at least one television and the majority
of households have more than one.
There are three basic types of television in the United States: broadcast, or “over-the-air”
television, which is freely available to anyone with a TV in the broadcast area, cable television, and
satellite television, both of which require a subscription to receive.
2.1. Broadcast television. The three major commercial television networks in the U.S. are
NBC and CBS, which date to the early days of television (in fact, they both began in the 1920s as
radio networks), and ABC, which began its life as a radio network spun off from NBC in 1943.
Major-network affiliates run very similar schedules. Typically, they begin weekdays with an
early-morning locally produced news show, followed by a network morning show, such as NBC’s
Today, which mixes news, weather, interviews and music. Syndicated programming, especially talk
shows, fill the late morning, followed often by local news at noon (Eastern Time). Soap operas
dominate the early afternoon, while syndicated talk shows such as The Oprah Winfrey Show appear

*
National Public Radio (NPR) is a USA radio network covering Television Entertainment. (NPR) is a semi-
independent, privately and publicly funded non-profit organization. It is syndicated to hundreds of U.S. radio stations
throughout the U.S. NPR originated in 1970 following congressional passage of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967.
**
A doctrine that made radio channels “balance” their day by programming alternative points of view.

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2. Newspapers in the USA Early in the 20th century. followed by more news. or in a situation that is increasingly rare. Until the 1970s. Nick and Cartoon Network (Children’s). offers programming similar to cable TV. Today Direct broadcast satellite television services. Instead. Fox News (news). live feeds not intended for broadcast. Another dominant feature of early 20th century journalism was the creation of chains of newspapers operating under the same ownership. Satellites were originally launched and used by the Television networks as a method of distributing their programs from headquarters to local affiliates. by small chains that own a handful of papers. PBS does not produce its own programming. Saturday mornings usually feature network programming aimed at children (including animated cartoons). MTV (music). ESPN and Versus (sports). 151 . including cultural. But in that decade. which became available in the U. cable television was used only to rebroadcast over-the-air TV to areas that had trouble receiving signals. This included programs without commercials. To prevent people from receiving pay content for free. followed by the national network’s news program at 6:30 or 5:30 p.. national networks dedicated exclusively to cable broadcasting appeared. New York City’s municipally-owned broadcast service. in the 1990s. either by large chains such as Gannett or McClatchy. such as educational. followed again by the same type of prime-time shows aired during the week. instead. The income received from the government is insufficient to cover expenses and stations rely on corporate sponsorships and viewer contributions. Unlike the commercial networks.in the late afternoon. broadcasts from other countries and eventually cable television programming. Newer transmission technology enabled satellite dishes to be much smaller and subscription services were developed. creates original programming that airs in several markets. Dish Network and News Corporation’s DirecTV are the major DBS providers in the country. Discovery Channel and Animal Planet (documentaries). Nowadays all the newspapers in the U. newspaper editors realized that the best way to attract readers was to give them all sides of a story. along with cable-TV systems that provided service to major cities. TBS (comedy). Public television has a far smaller role than in most other countries. the federal government subsidizes non-commercial television stations through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. individual PBS stations create programming and provide these to other affiliates. 3. Today. NYCTV.3. 2. Sports and infomercials can be found on weekend afternoons. are privately owned. Most public TV stations are affiliates of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). This had the additional benefit of providing channels that others could not receive. and cable networks collectively have greater viewership than broadcast networks.. sharing programs like Sesame Street and Masterpiece Theatre. This standard of objective reporting is today one of American journalism’s most important feature. without access to Terrestrial television broadcasts. There is no state-owned broadcasting authority. 2. Unlike broadcast networks. Cable and satellite television. by individuals or families. American public television stations air programming that commercial stations do not offer. Disney Channel (family). satellite transmissions are now scrambled. which own dozens or even hundreds of newspapers. TNT (drama) and Lifetime (women’s). In the 1970s individuals in remote locations. while Sunday mornings include public-affairs programs that help fulfill stations’ legal obligations to provide public-service programming.S.m. with a very few exceptions.S. Few cities have major municipally-owned stations. Sci Fi (science fiction). most cable networks air the same programming nationwide. Top cable networks include USA Network. found they could get free television by installing large satellite dishes and aiming them at the various satellites owned by the networks. most American households receive cable TV. Non-commercial television. Local news comes on again in the early evening. without bias. and public affairs programming.

Weekly newspapers tend to have much smaller circulation and are more prevalent in rural communities or small towns. usually on Thursday or Friday. organizations that maintain immediately-updating resources have more control over what will be remembered by the general public in the near future. or are printed daily. The top five daily newspapers by circulation in 1995 were the Wall Street Journal.S. The U. while U. News and World Report tends to be center-right. 4. The U. although all three (in theory. such as Communications of the ACM (for computer science specialists) and the ABA Journal (for lawyers). Time and Newsweek are center-left while U. serving every part of the political spectrum from left to right. as they are true to the spirit of freedom of information by virtue of making it free.m.S. of course). might attest that the reputations of organizations that charge is not enhanced by their charging policy. Some organizations only make limited amounts of their output available for free. Magazines in the USA Thanks to the huge size of the English-speaking North American media market.S. Glossary affiliate (n) subsidiary or subordinate organization that is affiliated with another organization brethren (plural) the lay members of a male religious order feed (n) material supplied newsstand stall where newspapers and other periodicals are sold prime time hours between 7 and 11 p. in effect. the means to look up old news. at a level of detail never before known. there are also dozens of magazines published by professional organizations for their members. Internet in the USA The Internet has provided a means for newspapers and other media organizations to deliver news and. the Washington Post. as can be determined by glancing at any newsstand in any large American city. the USA Today. The Internet. and charge for access to the rest. Finally. by means of making available such constantly growing news archives. the New York Times (NYT). also has over a dozen major political magazines (the exact number is debatable. at least) strive to provide objective news reporting and limit personal bias to the opinion pages.S. There is also a global newspaper – the International Herald Tribune. the United States has a large magazine industry with hundreds of magazines serving almost every interest. While proprietary archives are slowly exposed to the public after many decades. has three leading weekly newsmagazines: TIME. significantly. Other organizations allow their archives to be freely browsed. which is owned jointly by the New York Times and the Washington Post and is printed via satellite in 11 cities around the world.S. particularly when the same information is available from sources that don’t charge. News and World Report. 5. It is possible that the latter type obtain more influence. Time is well-known for naming a “Person of the Year” each year. the Los Angeles Times. Newsweek and U. when the largest tv audience is available reap get or derive revenue entire amount of income before any deductions are made scrambled changed (of a TV signal) so that it can only be understood using a special device 152 . News publishes annual ratings of American colleges and universities. writing American history as it happens. Anyone who has followed external links only to be confronted with a pay to view banner. Most general-purpose newspapers are either being printed one time a week. Most magazines are owned by one of the large media conglomerates or by one of their smaller regional brethren. is. besides the hundreds of specialized magazines that serve the diverse interests and hobbies of the American people.

Explain the meaning of the following words.m. Characterise the mass media of the US and indicate major titles in each group: Mass Medium Characteristics Examples Newspapers Magazines Radio AM FM TV Broadcast Cable & satellite Non-commercial Glossary affiliate (n) subsidiary or subordinate organization that is affiliated with another organization brethren (plural) the lay members of a male religious order feed (n) material supplied newsstand stall where newspapers and other periodicals are sold prime time hours between 7 and 11 p. Comprehension Exercise 1. 153 . when the largest tv audience is available reap get or derive revenue entire amount of income before any deductions are made scrambled changed (of a TV signal)so that it can only be understood using a special device Self-Assessment Exercise 1.

NBC. TCI? Exercise 6. Warner Brothers best? 154 . Twentieth Century Fox. Columbia Pictures. Disney.ambient advertisement vs. What is the official basis for freedom of speech in the USA? Exercise 4. CNN companies. Viacom. What movies/cartoons are closely associated with such giants as Walt Disney. What are the most influential at the moment? Exercise 3. Innumerate top 7 US quality and popular papers.2. ABC. What do you know about Time Warner. Bertelsmann. Explain how various media originated in the USA. Give brief characteristics to PBS. CBS. advertisement on TV/ talk show TV commercials panel game TV mogul situation comedy TV and radio listings action-packed drama satellite dish quiz shows aerial soap operas wire services blockbuster newsreel sequel live footage trailer sports coverage quality press breaking news reality show flash interview TV addict/ Couch potato newscaster chat show presenter host of the show anchorman MC yellow press obituary feature article regular columnist gossip column editorial Exercise . Miramax. Exercise 5.