Trivia and Information on Life in America: Ask-A-Desi
and TV Broadcasting in US
On the hour...every hour...This
is WBEZ Chicago public radio........ reporting live from from
'Ground zero' ..........over to CNN Newsroom in Atlanta.........live
from White House....
What are those
WFLD, WLS, WBEZ, KQED … letters identifying Radio/TV stations?
Every commercial Radio/ TV
station in the world has unique call letters, as suggested
by the Berlin International Radio Convention of 1912. Radio/TV
stations that have transmitters in Mexico have call letters
starting with "X". Canadian stations, "C",
in France "F" and so on. In the US, station call
letters are approved by the Federal Communications Commission.
U.S. has so many stations that fairly early in the history
of radio, all stations west of the Mississippi river were
given "K," and east ones "W." The letters
do not stand for anything (they are not initials). First letter
just tells you where the transmitter is located. Army stations
have "A" and Navy stations have "N".
Some of the earliest radio stations,
though, defied this rule. WSUI in Iowa city, is west of the Mississippi
river. KDKA in Pittsburgh (The first commercial radio station in
the United States to begin broadcasting in November 1920) is on
east. They were "grandfathers," allowed to keep these
call letters...:-). The only radio station in the United States
with call letters that spell out the name of its home city is WACO,
Interesting: WGN is a TV station
in Chicago. Also there is a WGN radio station here. Both belong
to the media giant Warner Brothers. Do you know what WGN stands
for? This again is for one more Warner Brothers' property - Chicago
Tribune, the newspaper. WGN = World's Greatest Newspaper (that's
what Chicago Tribune claimed itself when it was launched in 1847).
Why is there no Channel
1 on television in US?
Television, as you know, uses the
same spectrum of FM (Frequency Modulation) wavelengths, but mostly
the ones on higher end. Channel 1 occupies the 44-50 MHz VHF band.
In fact, Television once had a Channel 1, but lost it in 1945. The
F.C.C. decided TV was taking up too much of the broadcast spectrum
and gave it (Channel 1) for people with land-mobile and two-way
radio (walkie-talkie) system. So now we have Channel 2 to 13 on
VHF and Channel 14 to 69 on UHF.
TV Viewership Ratings
How do they measure the ratings that
reveal on Tuesday morning what Americans watched on TV Sunday evening?
The A.C. Nielsen
Company’s Nielsen Television Index (NTI) is one of the most important
and powerful rating services in US, as the entire commercial television
industry relies upon the ratings to determine both its programming
and its advertising rates. Nielsen, founded in 1923, originally
performed surveys for manufacturers of industrial machinery and
equipment. But by 1950 the company had expanded into communications
and developed the NTI system for network television. By 1954 the
company was providing the Nielsen Station Index for local stations.
||Today the Nielsen TV service
includes over 4500 households in more than 600 counties across
the United States. NTI statisticians, using US Census figures
on the number and location of households nationwide, select
representative households on the basis of location alone. The
specific demographics within each household become known only
after the selection process, when each member is asked to fill
out a form including such information as age, sex, race, income,
and occupation. NTI claims that its sample very much reflects
national figures on population diversity. Each year 20 percent
of the representative households are replaced by another group;
one household could thus contribute information for five years.
The base of the Nielsen
Television Index network is the Storage Instantaneous Audi meter
(SIA). The SIA, which can be placed out of sight in a cabinet or
in the basement away from the television set, measures all TV set
usage within a household. According to Nielsen, the SIA “stores
in its electronic memory exactly when each TV set in the household
is turned on, how long it stays on the channel tuned, and all channel
The members of the
NTI household are required to do nothing for Nielsen except watch
TV. Each SIA unit is connected to a special phone line used only
by NTI. At least twice a day, a Nielsen computer “dials” each home
unit and retrieves the stored information. These data are then immediately
processed in Nielsen’s central TV research computers and, because
the phone hookup is foolproof and immediate, ratings for, let’s
say, “Dr. Doolittle movie” on ABC channel on Sunday evening are
returned to the computer promptly, processed, and printed out. By
Tuesday at 11:00 am, the ratings are released to terminal outlets
in Nielsen’s clients’ offices and made available to the press.