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Broadcasting antenna in Stuttgart Broadcasting1.JPG
Broadcasting antenna in Stuttgart

Broadcasting is the distribution of audio or video content to a dispersed audience via any electronic mass communications medium, but typically one using the electromagnetic spectrum (radio waves), in a one-to-many model. [1] [2] Broadcasting began with AM radio, which came into popular use around 1920 with the spread of vacuum tube radio transmitters and receivers. Before this, all forms of electronic communication (early radio, telephone, and telegraph) were one-to-one, with the message intended for a single recipient. The term broadcasting evolved from its use as the agricultural method of sowing seeds in a field by casting them broadly about. [3] It was later adopted for describing the widespread distribution of information by printed materials [4] or by telegraph. [5] Examples applying it to "one-to-many" radio transmissions of an individual station to multiple listeners appeared as early as 1898. [6]

Sound mechanical wave that is an oscillation of pressure transmitted through a solid, liquid, or gas, composed of frequencies within the range of hearing; pressure wave, generated by vibrating structure

In physics, sound is a vibration that typically propagates as an audible wave of pressure, through a transmission medium such as a gas, liquid or solid.

Audience group of people who participate in a show or encounter a work of art

An audience is a group of people who participate in a show or encounter a work of art, literature, theatre, music, video games, or academics in any medium. Audience members participate in different ways in different kinds of art; some events invite overt audience participation and others allowing only modest clapping and criticism and reception.

The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of frequencies of electromagnetic radiation and their respective wavelengths and photon energies.


Over the air broadcasting is usually associated with radio and television, though in recent years, both radio and television transmissions have begun to be distributed by cable (cable television). The receiving parties may include the general public or a relatively small subset; the point is that anyone with the appropriate receiving technology and equipment (e.g., a radio or television set) can receive the signal. The field of broadcasting includes both government-managed services such as public radio, community radio and public television, and private commercial radio and commercial television. The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, title 47, part 97 defines "broadcasting" as "transmissions intended for reception by the general public, either direct or relayed". [7] Private or two-way telecommunications transmissions do not qualify under this definition. For example, amateur ("ham") and citizens band (CB) radio operators are not allowed to broadcast. As defined, "transmitting" and "broadcasting" are not the same.

Radio technology of using radio waves to carry information

Radio is the technology of using radio waves to carry information, such as sound and images, by systematically modulating properties of electromagnetic energy waves transmitted through space, such as their amplitude, frequency, phase, or pulse width. When radio waves strike an electrical conductor, the oscillating fields induce an alternating current in the conductor. The information in the waves can be extracted and transformed back into its original form.

Television Telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images

Television (TV), sometimes shortened to tele or telly, is a telecommunication medium used for transmitting moving images in monochrome, or in colour, and in two or three dimensions and sound. The term can refer to a television set, a television program, or the medium of television transmission. Television is a mass medium for advertising, entertainment and news.

Cable television television content transmitted via signals on coaxial cable

Cable television is a system of delivering television programming to consumers via radio frequency (RF) signals transmitted through coaxial cables, or in more recent systems, light pulses through fiber-optic cables. This contrasts with broadcast television, in which the television signal is transmitted over the air by radio waves and received by a television antenna attached to the television; or satellite television, in which the television signal is transmitted by a communications satellite orbiting the Earth and received by a satellite dish on the roof. FM radio programming, high-speed Internet, telephone services, and similar non-television services may also be provided through these cables. Analog television was standard in the 20th century, but since the 2000s, cable systems have been upgraded to digital cable operation.

Transmission of radio and television programs from a radio or television station to home receivers by radio waves is referred to as "over the air" (OTA) or terrestrial broadcasting and in most countries requires a broadcasting license. Transmissions using a wire or cable, like cable television (which also retransmits OTA stations with their consent), are also considered broadcasts but do not necessarily require a license (though in some countries, a license is required). In the 2000s, transmissions of television and radio programs via streaming digital technology have increasingly been referred to as broadcasting as well.

Radio wave type of electromagnetic radiation

Radio waves are a type of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum longer than infrared light. Radio waves have frequencies as high as 300 gigahertz (GHz) to as low as 30 hertz (Hz). At 300 GHz, the corresponding wavelength is 1 mm, and at 30 Hz is 10,000 km. Like all other electromagnetic waves, radio waves travel at the speed of light. They are generated by electric charges undergoing acceleration, such as time varying electric currents. Naturally occurring radio waves are emitted by lightning and astronomical objects.

Terrestrial television television content transmitted via signals in the air

Terrestrial television is a type of television broadcasting in which the television signal is transmitted by radio waves from the terrestrial (Earth-based) transmitter of a television station to a TV receiver having an antenna. The term terrestrial is more common in Europe and Latin America, while in the United States it is called broadcast or over-the-air television (OTA). The term "terrestrial" is used to distinguish this type from the newer technologies of satellite television, in which the television signal is transmitted to the receiver from an overhead satellite, and cable television, in which the signal is carried to the receiver through a cable.

A broadcast license is a type of spectrum license granting the licensee permission to use a portion of the radio frequency spectrum in a given geographical area for broadcasting purposes. The licenses generally include restrictions, which vary from band to band.


The earliest broadcasting consisted of sending telegraph signals over the airwaves, using Morse code, a system developed in the 1830s by Samuel F.B. Morse, physicist Joseph Henry and Alfred Vail. They developed an electrical telegraph system which sent pulses of electric current along wires which controlled an electromagnet that was located at the receiving end of the telegraph system. A code was needed to transmit natural language using only these pulses, and the silence between them. Morse therefore developed the forerunner to modern International Morse code. This was particularly important for ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore communication, but it became increasingly important for business and general news reporting, and as an arena for personal communication by radio amateurs (Douglas, op. cit.). Audio broadcasting began experimentally in the first decade of the 20th century. By the early 1920s radio broadcasting became a household medium, at first on the AM band and later on FM. Television broadcasting started experimentally in the 1920s and became widespread after World War II, using VHF and UHF spectrum. Satellite broadcasting was initiated in the 1960s and moved into general industry usage in the 1970s, with DBS (Direct Broadcast Satellites) emerging in the 1980s.

Morse code Transmission of language with brief pulses

Morse code is a character encoding scheme used in telecommunication that encodes text characters as standardized sequences of two different signal durations called dots and dashes or dits and dahs. Morse code is named for Samuel F. B. Morse, an inventor of the telegraph.

Physicist scientist who does research in physics

A physicist is a scientist who specializes in the field of physics, which encompasses the interactions of matter and energy at all length and time scales in the physical universe. Physicists generally are interested in the root or ultimate causes of phenomena, and usually frame their understanding in mathematical terms. Physicists work across a wide range of research fields, spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic and particle physics, through biological physics, to cosmological length scales encompassing the universe as a whole. The field generally includes two types of physicists: experimental physicists who specialize in the observation of physical phenomena and the analysis of experiments, and theoretical physicists who specialize in mathematical modeling of physical systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena. Physicists can apply their knowledge towards solving practical problems or to developing new technologies.

Joseph Henry American scientist

Joseph Henry was an American scientist who served as the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. He was the secretary for the National Institute for the Promotion of Science, a precursor of the Smithsonian Institution. He was highly regarded during his lifetime. While building electromagnets, Henry discovered the electromagnetic phenomenon of self-inductance. He also discovered mutual inductance independently of Michael Faraday, though Faraday was the first to make the discovery and publish his results. Henry developed the electromagnet into a practical device. He invented a precursor to the electric doorbell and electric relay (1835). The SI unit of inductance, the Henry, is named in his honor. Henry's work on the electromagnetic relay was the basis of the practical electrical telegraph, invented by Samuel F. B. Morse and Sir Charles Wheatstone, separately.

Originally all broadcasting was composed of analog signals using analog transmission techniques but in the 2000s, broadcasters have switched to digital signals using digital transmission. In general usage, broadcasting most frequently refers to the transmission of information and entertainment programming from various sources to the general public.

An analog signal is any continuous signal for which the time-varying feature (variable) of the signal is a representation of some other time varying quantity, i.e., analogous to another time varying signal. For example, in an analog audio signal, the instantaneous voltage of the signal varies continuously with the pressure of the sound waves. It differs from a digital signal, in which the continuous quantity is a representation of a sequence of discrete values which can only take on one of a finite number of values. The term analog signal usually refers to electrical signals; however, mechanical, pneumatic, hydraulic, human speech, and other systems may also convey or be considered analog signals.

Analog transmission is a transmission method of conveying information using a continuous signal which varies in amplitude, phase, or some other property in proportion to that information. It could be the transfer of an analog source signal, using an analog modulation method such as frequency modulation (FM) or amplitude modulation (AM), or no modulation at all.

HD Radio is a trademarked term for Xperi's in-band on-channel (IBOC) digital radio technology used by AM and FM radio stations to transmit audio and data by using a digital signal embedded "on-frequency" immediately above and below a station's standard analog signal, providing the means to listen to the same program in either HD or as a standard broadcast. The HD format also provides the means for a single radio station to simultaneously broadcast one or more different programs in addition to the program being transmitted on the radio station's analog channel. It was originally developed by iBiquity. In September 2015 iBiquity was acquired by DTS bringing the HD Radio technology under the same banner as DTS' eponymous theater surround sound systems.. It was later acquired by Xperi in 2016.

Analog television original television technology that uses analog signals to transmit video and audio; in an analog television broadcast, the brightness, colors and sound are represented by rapid variations of either the amplitude, frequency or phase of the signal

Analog television or analogue television is the original television technology that uses analog signals to transmit video and audio. In an analog television broadcast, the brightness, colors and sound are represented by rapid variations of either the amplitude, frequency or phase of the signal.

Digital television (DTV) is the transmission of television signals, including the sound channel, using digital encoding, in contrast to the earlier television technology, analog television, in which the video and audio are carried by analog signals. It is an innovative advance that represents the first significant evolution in television technology since color television in the 1950s. Digital TV transmits in a new image format called HDTV, with greater resolution than analog TV, in a wide screen aspect ratio similar to recent movies in contrast to the narrower screen of analog TV. It makes more economical use of scarce radio spectrum space; it can transmit multiple channels, up to 7, in the same bandwidth occupied by a single channel of analog television, and provides many new features that analog television cannot. A transition from analog to digital broadcasting began around 2006 in some countries, and many industrial countries have now completed the changeover, while other countries are in various stages of adaptation. Different digital television broadcasting standards have been adopted in different parts of the world; below are the more widely used standards:

The world's technological capacity to receive information through one-way broadcast networks more than quadrupled during the two decades from 1986 to 2007, from 432 exabytes of (optimally compressed) information, to 1.9 zettabytes. [8] This is the information equivalent of 55 newspapers per person per day in 1986, and 175 newspapers per person per day by 2007. [9]


Historically, there have been several methods used for broadcasting electronic media audio and video to the general public:

Economic models

There are several means of providing financial support for continuous broadcasting:

Broadcasters may rely on a combination of these business models. For example, in the United States, National Public Radio (NPR) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS, television) supplement public membership subscriptions and grants with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which is allocated bi-annually by Congress. US public broadcasting corporate and charitable grants are generally given in consideration of underwriting spots which differ from commercial advertisements in that they are governed by specific FCC restrictions, which prohibit the advocacy of a product or a "call to action".

Recorded and live forms

A television studio production control room in Olympia, Washington, August 2008. TV Station Control Room.JPG
A television studio production control room in Olympia, Washington, August 2008.
On Air sign illuminated usually in red while recording or broadcasting On Air DSC0004 1.jpg
On Air sign illuminated usually in red while recording or broadcasting

The first regular television broadcasts started in 1937. Broadcasts can be classified as "recorded" or "live". The former allows correcting errors, and removing superfluous or undesired material, rearranging it, applying slow-motion and repetitions, and other techniques to enhance the program. However, some live events like sports television can include some of the aspects including slow-motion clips of important goals/hits, etc., in between the live television telecast. American radio-network broadcasters habitually forbade prerecorded broadcasts in the 1930s and 1940s requiring radio programs played for the Eastern and Central time zones to be repeated three hours later for the Pacific time zone (See: Effects of time on North American broadcasting). This restriction was dropped for special occasions, as in the case of the German dirigible airship Hindenburg disaster at Lakehurst, New Jersey, in 1937. During World War II, prerecorded broadcasts from war correspondents were allowed on U.S. radio. In addition, American radio programs were recorded for playback by Armed Forces Radio radio stations around the world.

A disadvantage of recording first is that the public may know the outcome of an event from another source, which may be a "spoiler". In addition, prerecording prevents live radio announcers from deviating from an officially approved script, as occurred with propaganda broadcasts from Germany in the 1940s and with Radio Moscow in the 1980s. Many events are advertised as being live, although they are often "recorded live" (sometimes called "live-to-tape"). This is particularly true of performances of musical artists on radio when they visit for an in-studio concert performance. Similar situations have occurred in television production (" The Cosby Show is recorded in front of a live television studio audience") and news broadcasting.

A broadcast may be distributed through several physical means. If coming directly from the radio studio at a single station or television station, it is simply sent through the studio/transmitter link to the transmitter and hence from the television antenna located on the radio masts and towers out to the world. Programming may also come through a communications satellite, played either live or recorded for later transmission. Networks of stations may simulcast the same programming at the same time, originally via microwave link, now usually by satellite. Distribution to stations or networks may also be through physical media, such as magnetic tape, compact disc (CD), DVD, and sometimes other formats. Usually these are included in another broadcast, such as when electronic news gathering (ENG) returns a story to the station for inclusion on a news programme.

The final leg of broadcast distribution is how the signal gets to the listener or viewer. It may come over the air as with a radio station or television station to an antenna and radio receiver, or may come through cable television [10] or cable radio (or "wireless cable") via the station or directly from a network. The Internet may also bring either internet radio or streaming media television to the recipient, especially with multicasting allowing the signal and bandwidth to be shared. The term "broadcast network" is often used to distinguish networks that broadcast an over-the-air television signals that can be received using a tuner (television) inside a television set with a television antenna from so-called networks that are broadcast only via cable television (cablecast) or satellite television that uses a dish antenna. The term "broadcast television" can refer to the television programs of such networks.

Social impact

Radio station WTUL studio, Tulane University, New Orleans WTUL Microphone.jpg
Radio station WTUL studio, Tulane University, New Orleans

The sequencing of content in a broadcast is called a schedule. As with all technological endeavors, a number of technical terms and slang have developed. A list of these terms can be found at List of broadcasting terms. [11] Television and radio programs are distributed through radio broadcasting or cable, often both simultaneously. By coding signals and having a cable converter box with decoding equipment in homes, the latter also enables subscription-based channels, pay-tv and pay-per-view services. In his essay, John Durham Peters wrote that communication is a tool used for dissemination. Durham stated, "Dissemination is a lens—sometimes a usefully distorting one—that helps us tackle basic issues such as interaction, presence, and space and time...on the agenda of any future communication theory in general" (Durham, 211). [2] Dissemination focuses on the message being relayed from one main source to one large audience without the exchange of dialogue in between. It is possible for the message to be changed or corrupted by government officials once the main source releases it. There is no way to predetermine how the larger population or audience will absorb the message. They can choose to listen, analyze, or simply ignore it. Dissemination in communication is widely used in the world of broadcasting.

Broadcasting focuses on getting a message out and it is up to the general public to do what they wish with it. Durham also states that broadcasting is used to address an open-ended destination (Durham, 212). There are many forms of broadcasting, but they all aim to distribute a signal that will reach the target audience. Broadcasters typically arrange audiences into entire assemblies (Durham, 213). In terms of media broadcasting, a radio show can gather a large number of followers who tune in every day to specifically listen to that specific disc jockey. The disc jockey follows the script for his or her radio show and just talks into the microphone. [2] He or she does not expect immediate feedback from any listeners. The message is broadcast across airwaves throughout the community, but there the listeners cannot always respond immediately, especially since many radio shows are recorded prior to the actual air time.

See also

Notes and references

  1. Peters, John Durham (1999). Speaking into the Air. University of Chicago Press. ISBN   978-0-226-66276-3.
  2. 1 2 3 Speaking into the Air. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  3. Douglas, Susan J. (1987). Inventing American Broadcasting, 1899–1922. Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN   978-0-8018-3832-3.
  4. The Hand-book of Wyoming and Guide to the Black Hills and Big Horn Regions, 1877, p. 74: "in the case of the estimates sent broadcast by the Department of Agriculture, in its latest annual report, the extent has been sadly underestimated".
  5. "Medical Advertising", Saint Louis Medical and Surgical Journal, December 1886, p. 334: "operations formerly described in the city press alone, are now sent broadcast through the country by multiple telegraph".
  6. "Wireless Telegraphy", The Electrician (London), October 14, 1898, p. 815: "there are rare cases where, as Dr. Lodge once expressed it, it might be advantageous to 'shout' the message, spreading it broadcast to receivers in all directions".
  7. Electronic Code of Federal Regulation. (2017, September 28`). Retrieved October 02, 2017
  8. "The World's Technological Capacity to Store, Communicate, and Compute Information", Martin Hilbert and Priscila López (2011), Science, 332(6025), 60–65; free access to the article through here:
  9. "video animation on The World's Technological Capacity to Store, Communicate, and Compute Information from 1986 to 2010". Archived from the original on 18 January 2012. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  10. "Информационно – развлекательный портал – DIWAXX.RU – мобильная связь, безопасность ПК и сетей, компьютеры и программы, общение, железо, секреты Windows, web-дизайн, раскрутка и оптимизация сайта, партнерские программы". Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  11. Archived from the original on 16 November 2017. Retrieved 11 November 2017.Missing or empty |title= (help)


Further reading

Related Research Articles

The early history of radio is the history of technology that produces and uses radio instruments that use radio waves. Within the timeline of radio, many people contributed theory and inventions in what became radio. Radio development began as "wireless telegraphy". Later radio history increasingly involves matters of broadcasting.

In telecommunication, a communications system or communication system is a collection of individual communications networks, transmission systems, relay stations, tributary stations, and data terminal equipment (DTE) usually capable of interconnection and interoperation to form an integrated whole. The components of a communications system serve a common purpose, are technically compatible, use common procedures, respond to controls, and operate in union.

Multiplexing method by which multiple analog or digital signals are combined into one signal over a shared medium

In telecommunications and computer networks, multiplexing is a method by which multiple analog or digital signals are combined into one signal over a shared medium. The aim is to share a scarce resource. For example, in telecommunications, several telephone calls may be carried using one wire. Multiplexing originated in telegraphy in the 1870s, and is now widely applied in communications. In telephony, George Owen Squier is credited with the development of telephone carrier multiplexing in 1910.

Repeater Relay station

In telecommunications, a repeater is an electronic device that receives a signal and retransmits it. Repeaters are used to extend transmissions so that the signal can cover longer distances or be received on the other side of an obstruction.

Transmitter Electronic device that emits radio waves

In electronics and telecommunications, a transmitter or radio transmitter is an electronic device which produces radio waves with an antenna. The transmitter itself generates a radio frequency alternating current, which is applied to the antenna. When excited by this alternating current, the antenna radiates radio waves.

AM broadcasting radio broadcasting using amplitude modulation

AM broadcasting is a radio broadcasting technology, which employs amplitude modulation (AM) transmissions. It was the first method developed for making audio radio transmissions, and is still used worldwide, primarily for medium wave transmissions, but also on the longwave and shortwave radio bands.

Ultra high frequency radio waves

Ultra high frequency (UHF) is the ITU designation for radio frequencies in the range between 300 megahertz (MHz) and 3 gigahertz (GHz), also known as the decimetre band as the wavelengths range from one meter to one tenth of a meter. Radio waves with frequencies above the UHF band fall into the super-high frequency (SHF) or microwave frequency range. Lower frequency signals fall into the VHF or lower bands. UHF radio waves propagate mainly by line of sight; they are blocked by hills and large buildings although the transmission through building walls is strong enough for indoor reception. They are used for television broadcasting, cell phones, satellite communication including GPS, personal radio services including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, walkie-talkies, cordless phones, and numerous other applications.

In the context of broadcasting, backhaul refers to uncut program content that is transmitted point-to-point to an individual television station or radio station, broadcast network or other receiving entity where it will be integrated into a finished TV show or radio show. The term is independent of the medium being used to send the backhaul, but communications satellite transmission is very common. When the medium is satellite, it is called a wildfeed.

Free-to-air (FTA) are television (TV) and radio services broadcast in clear (unencrypted) form, allowing any person with the appropriate receiving equipment to receive the signal and view or listen to the content without requiring a subscription, other ongoing cost or one-off fee. In the traditional sense, this is carried on terrestrial radio signals and received with an antenna.

A television station is a set of equipment managed by a business, organisation or other entity, such as an amateur television (ATV) operator, that transmits video content via radio waves directly from a transmitter on the earth's surface to a receiver on earth. Most often the term refers to a station which broadcasts structured content to an audience or it refers to the organization that operates the station. A terrestrial television transmission can occur via analog television signals or, more recently, via digital television signals. Television stations are differentiated from cable television or other video providers in that their content is broadcast via terrestrial radio waves. A group of television stations with common ownership or affiliation are known as a TV network and an individual station within the network is referred to as O&O or affiliate, respectively.

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Microwave transmission technology of transmitting information or energy by the use of microwaves

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Telecommunications engineering engineering science that deals with the recording, transmission, processing and storage of messages

Telecommunications engineering is an engineering discipline centered on electrical and computer engineering which seeks to support and enhance telecommunication systems. The work ranges from basic circuit design to strategic mass developments. A telecommunication engineer is responsible for designing and overseeing the installation of telecommunications equipment and facilities, such as complex electronic switching systems, and other plain old telephone service facilities, optical fiber cabling, IP networks, and microwave transmission systems. Telecommunication engineering also overlaps with broadcast engineering.

A radio communication station is a set of equipment necessary to carry on communication via radio waves. Generally, it is a receiver or transmitter or transceiver, an antenna, and some smaller additional equipment necessary to operate them. They play a vital role in communication technology as they are heavily relied on to transfer data and information across the world.

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Telecommunication transmission of information between locations using electromagnetics

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A sign-on is the beginning of operations for a radio or television station, generally at the start of each day. It is the opposite of a sign-off, which is the sequence of operations involved when a radio or television station shuts down its transmitters and goes off the air for a predetermined period; generally, this occurs during the overnight hours.