Since its birth, television has been a potent medium that cuts over boundaries and cultures, reshaping society and having a wide range of effects on people. Due to its adaptability, it has been able to play crucial roles in many areas of human life. In this discourse, we examine the various and significant functions that television performs in a variety of contexts, including politics, sports, education, culture, and a host of other areas.
What is Television?
Television is one of the concepts like many other in mass communication without a universal definition. Hence, scholars, professionals, and researchers have defined it in various way. According to McQuail (2005), television is a mass communication medium that transmits audiovisual content, including news, entertainment, and educational programming, to a wide audience through electromagnetic waves or cable networks.
Television as a Device, Inglis (2010) wrote the television is an electronic device equipped with a screen and speakers that receives and displays broadcasted or cable-transmitted audiovisual signals for entertainment, information, and communication. In the view of Livingstone & Bovill (2011), television is seen as a social phenomenon that shapes and influences public opinion, behavior, and collective consciousness through the dissemination of information and entertainment.
Features of Television
Television has some unique characteristics that makes it unique from other mass media, Olaitan (2020) offer the following distinct features of television which placed it over many other mass media:
- It is an audio-visual medium; it combines the senses of sight and hearing together in carrying its messages to the viewers. Unlike radio, which deals with aural ability, television combines visual quality which makes its message impactful.
- Fidelity. This is another unique feature of television. It has ability to reproduce an event in its exact form while such event is unfolding.
- Transportability; without moving out of one’s home, television has the quality of taking its viewers to the venue of an event. Especially, during live coverage of an event, viewers need not moving out of their homes before they can have access to the happenings.
- Collective/Multiple viewership. Unlike radio that promotes the concept of companionship in listening, television is better viewed collectively by members of a household, which is the main reason why television is often situated at the living room for everybody to come together and watch it collectively.
Functions of Television
Like any other electronic media, television performs the cardinal functions of mass media.
- Education– many programmes on television are prepared with the main aim of educating its viewers. The expectation is that by watching such a programme, viewers would be better educated on its focus. There are times where experts are invited on a programme to give an informed opinion for the populace to be educated on how best to conduct an affair relating to the focus of the discus, i.e health, and education.
- Entertainment- after the day’s hectic experience, television has over the years assumed a soothing balm to ease tension on the viewers. Entertainment programmes of many kind are designed to make people ease the tension of the day. These kinds of programmes are particularly produced to create an atmosphere of relaxation, amusement and put those (viewers) in a light mood.
- Information- news hours that are scheduled over different time of the day and particularly in the night on television was aimed at informing its viewers with latest happening in town, either from public or private sector, or rather from government or individual organisations. The ultimate aim is to ensure viewers received adequate and correct information that will empower them for their day to day engagement and decisions. Television is a fantastic source of credible information, simply because it takes viewers to the venue of an even and affords them opportunity to hear from the horse’s mouth through the use of “Track Up sound and Ambience sounds in the news.
- Transmission of Cultural Heritage- television plays great role in the transfer of rich cultural heritage all over the world. Programmes of various kind, designed with certain target audience within a culture are abound on air. Some of the target audiences are children and youths who are often allow partaking in the demonstration of their parents’ culture. From generation to generation, television has helped in sustaining different cultures of the world from going into extinction. Okereke (2008) explained that television performs great role in the spread of culture in a country like Nigeria with multiple culture. Culture as a way of life must be shared between the nationalities in order to build a friendly, egalitarian and unified nation. To this end, he was of the view that intercultural communication becomes a veritable weapon towards building understanding; hence TV facilitates this aspect of human relationship.
- Moblisation of Members of the Society- because of the audio visual quality of television, it is a medium through which members of the society can be mobilised for a mission or course, this is the more reason why politicians and those willing to gather crowd often patronise the service of television to mobilise members of the public for whatever course they pursued.
- Teaching- many at times, programmes are placed on air not only to entertain nor to inform the publics as often thought, but mainly to teach an act, or a body of knowledge, i.e Cooking, School on TV, the philosophy of such a television programme is that by the time viewers watch it, they would have acquired more knowledge just like in the formal school system.
Roles of TV in Politics
Television (TV) plays a crucial role as an electioneering platform in the political process. It serves as a powerful medium for candidates and political parties to reach and communicate with voters. Here are some of the key roles of TV in this context, along with explanations:
- Information Dissemination: TV serves as a primary source of information about candidates, their policies, and the election process. News programs, debates, and interviews provide voters with essential information to make informed decisions.
- Campaign Advertising: Political campaigns use TV as a platform to air advertisements that promote their candidates and parties. These ads can range from short messages to elaborate commercials, allowing candidates to reach a wide audience and convey their key messages.
- Debates and Forums: Televised debates and forums offer candidates an opportunity to discuss their positions and engage in direct dialogue with each other. These events help voters evaluate candidates’ competence, knowledge, and communication skills.
- Candidate Interviews: TV networks often conduct interviews with candidates, allowing them to explain their policies, answer questions, and address issues raised by journalists. These interviews give candidates a chance to connect with viewers on a personal level.
- Opinion Polls: TV networks frequently conduct opinion polls to gauge public sentiment and predict election outcomes. These polls can influence voter perceptions, either by reinforcing support for a candidate or by prompting strategic voting.
- Issue Analysis: TV programs and news segments often analyze key election issues, providing voters with a deeper understanding of policy proposals and their potential implications. This helps voters make informed decisions based on their values and priorities.
- Voter Education: TV networks may produce voter education materials, such as explainers on how the electoral process works, voter registration information, and polling location details. This helps ensure that citizens are prepared to participate in the election.
- Candidate Exposure: TV coverage can significantly boost a candidate’s visibility and name recognition, especially for lesser-known candidates. Frequent appearances on news programs and talk shows can help candidates gain credibility and support.
- Fundraising: TV can be instrumental in fundraising efforts for political campaigns. Candidates and parties often hold televised fundraising events and telethons to collect donations from supporters.
- Monitoring Election Processes: TV networks play a crucial role in monitoring the election process by providing live coverage of voting, ballot counting, and election results. This transparency helps maintain the integrity of the election.
- Fact-Checking: TV news programs often fact-check statements made by candidates during their campaigns and debates. This helps viewers distinguish between accurate information and misinformation.
- Influence on Voter Behaviour: TV has the power to shape voter perceptions, attitudes, and behavior. Positive or negative coverage, endorsements, and the tone of reporting can sway public opinion and voter turnout.
Television plays a significant role in educational development by providing a visual and auditory medium for learning. It can be a powerful tool to enhance education in various ways. Here are some specific roles and explanations of how television contributes to educational development:
- Distance Learning and Remote Education: Television can be used as a medium for delivering educational content to remote or underserved areas where access to traditional schools or the internet is limited. Educational programmes can be broadcast over TV channels or through dedicated educational channels.
- Supplemental Learning: Television complements classroom instruction by providing additional resources, such as documentaries, educational shows, and tutorials. These programs can reinforce and expand upon what students learn in school.
- Visual Learning: Television is a visual medium, making it suitable for teaching subjects that benefit from visual aids, such as science, geography, history, and art. Concepts are often easier to grasp when presented visually.
- Engagement and Interest: Educational TV programmes are often designed to be engaging and entertaining, which can capture students’ attention and make learning more enjoyable. This can foster a love for learning and encourage curiosity.
- Cultural and Social Education: Television can expose viewers to different cultures, traditions, and perspectives from around the world. Educational programs can promote tolerance, diversity, and a broader understanding of global issues.
- Current Events and News Education: News programmes on television can be used to educate students about current events, politics, and global affairs. Teachers can use news segments to facilitate discussions and critical thinking.
- Historical Documentaries: Television networks often produce documentaries that delve into historical events, figures, and periods. These documentaries can serve as valuable educational resources for history classes.
- Language Learning: Television can aid language learning by providing exposure to native speakers, helping learners improve their pronunciation and language comprehension skills. Educational programs designed for language learners are particularly beneficial.
- Science and Technology: Educational TV can showcase scientific experiments, discoveries, and technological advancements, making complex topics more accessible and exciting for students.
- Specialized Educational Channels: Some regions have dedicated educational channels that offer a wide range of educational content, including lessons, courses, and academic programming tailored to different age groups and subjects.
Television plays a significant role in cultural development by both reflecting and shaping the culture of a society. It serves as a powerful medium for transmitting ideas, values, and cultural norms. Here are specific roles and explanations of how television contributes to cultural development:
- Cultural Representation: Television programmes, including dramas, sitcoms, and documentaries, often portray diverse cultural backgrounds and lifestyles. This representation can help viewers gain a better understanding of different cultures, fostering cultural awareness and appreciation.
- Preservation of Culture: Television can be used to document and preserve cultural traditions, rituals, and historical events. Documentaries and cultural programs can capture and transmit this knowledge to future generations.
- Language Preservation: Television can contribute to the preservation of endangered languages by broadcasting programs in those languages. This helps maintain linguistic diversity and cultural identity.
- Cultural Exchange: Television allows for the exchange of cultural ideas and values on a global scale. International programming, such as foreign films and TV shows, introduces viewers to different cultural perspectives and fosters cross-cultural understanding.
- Cultural Education: Educational programmes on television can teach viewers about their own culture’s history, art, literature, and traditions. It can also introduce viewers to the cultural contributions of other societies.
- Promotion of Arts and Creativity: Television provides a platform for showcasing various forms of art, including music, dance, theater, and visual arts. Cultural programs and talent shows often feature artists and performers, promoting creativity and artistic expression.
- Cultural Commentary and Critique: Talk shows, news programs, and documentaries often analyze and critique cultural and societal issues. They provide a platform for discussing cultural trends, social norms, and pressing cultural debates.
- Promotion of Tourism and Heritage: Television programs featuring travel and tourism can promote cultural heritage sites, landmarks, and destinations. This can boost tourism and create awareness about the importance of preserving cultural treasures.
- Cultural Celebration: Television broadcasts cultural festivals, celebrations, and events, allowing people to participate in cultural experiences even if they cannot attend in person. This fosters a sense of cultural pride and unity.
- Influence on Fashion and Trends: Television influences fashion trends and consumer behavior by showcasing clothing, accessories, and lifestyle choices. Popular TV shows and characters can become fashion icons.
- Social Commentary and Change: Television can raise awareness about cultural and social issues, inspiring viewers to advocate for change and engage in activism related to cultural equality, diversity, and representation.
- Cultural Identity Formation: Television can play a role in the formation of individual and group cultural identities. It can help people connect with their cultural roots and heritage, especially among diaspora communities.
Specific Role of Television in Sport Development
Television plays a crucial role in the development of sports by providing a platform for broadcasting and promoting sporting events. It has a significant impact on various aspects of sport development. Here are specific roles and explanations of how television contributes to sport development:
- Global Visibility and Reach: Television broadcasts allow sporting events to reach a global audience. Major tournaments and competitions, such as the Olympics and FIFA World Cup, gain immense visibility through television, helping sports gain popularity worldwide.
- Fan Engagement: Television provides fans with a front-row seat to live sports action, creating an immersive experience. It allows fans to follow their favorite teams and athletes, fostering a sense of community and loyalty.
- Revenue Generation: Television broadcasting rights are a significant source of revenue for sports organizations and teams. The revenue generated from TV deals can be reinvested in sports development, infrastructure, and talent development.
- Sponsorship and Advertising: Television broadcasts attract sponsors and advertisers looking to reach a large and engaged audience. The revenue generated from sponsorships and advertising can support sports development programs and events.
- Talent Identification and Development: Young athletes can learn from watching professional athletes on television. Exposure to elite-level sports can inspire and motivate young talents to pursue sports seriously, leading to talent development and recruitment.
- Sports Education and Analysis: Television broadcasts often include expert commentary and analysis, offering viewers insights into game strategy, techniques, and player performance. This educational aspect can improve the understanding and appreciation of sports.
- Promotion of Lesser-Known Sports: Television can introduce viewers to lesser-known or niche sports, helping these sports gain recognition and participation. This can diversify the sporting landscape and provide opportunities for athletes in less mainstream disciplines.
- Development of Youth and Grassroots Sports: Televised sports events can inspire participation in youth and grassroots sports. Young athletes may aspire to emulate their sports idols, leading to increased participation at the grassroots level.
- Promotion of Gender Equality in Sports: Television coverage of women’s sports can help bridge the gender gap in sports by providing exposure and recognition to female athletes. It promotes gender equality and encourages female participation in sports.
- National Pride and Identity: Television broadcasts of international competitions can instill a sense of national pride and identity. Success in sports can unite a nation and promote a positive image on the global stage.
Specific Role of Television in Environmental Sanitation
Television plays a vital role in environmental sanitation by raising awareness, educating the public, and advocating for sustainable practices that promote a cleaner and healthier environment. Here are specific roles and explanations of how television contributes to environmental sanitation:
- Environmental Awareness: Television programmes, documentaries, and news reports often highlight environmental issues, such as pollution, climate change, deforestation, and habitat destruction. By raising awareness, television encourages individuals and communities to take action to address these problems.
- Educational Content: Educational programmes on television can provide valuable information about proper waste disposal, recycling, water conservation, and other eco-friendly practices. Viewers can learn about the importance of sustainable living and how to implement it in their daily lives.
- Promotion of Environmental Initiatives: Television can showcase local and global environmental initiatives, such as clean-up campaigns, tree planting events, and recycling programs. This exposure encourages viewers to get involved in such activities and support environmental causes.
- Advocacy and Environmental Journalism: Environmental journalists and experts often use television as a platform to investigate and report on environmental issues. Their work can hold governments and corporations accountable for their environmental impact and influence policy changes.
- Highlighting Success Stories: Television can feature success stories of individuals, organizations, and communities that have made positive strides in environmental sanitation and conservation. These stories serve as inspiration and examples of what can be achieved.
- Disaster Preparedness and Response: Television is crucial during environmental disasters, such as hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. It provides real-time information and safety instructions to affected communities, helping people stay informed and safe.
- Environmental Documentaries: Documentaries dedicated to environmental topics can delve deep into the challenges and solutions related to environmental sanitation. They often combine compelling storytelling with scientific information to engage and educate viewers.
- Public Service Announcements (PSAs): Television networks often air PSAs that promote environmental awareness and encourage responsible behavior, such as reducing waste, conserving energy, and protecting natural resources.
- Government and NGO Campaigns: Television serves as a platform for government agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to launch public awareness campaigns related to environmental sanitation. These campaigns can reach a broad audience and influence behavior change.
- Celebrity and Influencer Engagement: Celebrities and influencers often use their platform on television to advocate for environmental causes. Their involvement can attract attention and mobilize their fan base to support environmental initiatives.
- Legislation and Policy Discussion: Television can host discussions and debates on environmental policies and regulations, helping viewers understand the implications of government decisions on environmental sanitation and conservation.
Specific Role of Television in Health Development
Television plays a significant role in health development by serving as a powerful medium for health education, awareness, and advocacy. It can influence individuals’ health behaviors and decisions and contribute to the overall well-being of a society. Here are specific roles and explanations of how television contributes to health development:
- Health Education: Television programmes, health documentaries, and informative segments can educate the public about various health topics, including nutrition, disease prevention, sexual health, mental health, and healthy lifestyle choices. These programs offer valuable information to viewers.
- Public Health Campaigns: Television can be a primary channel for airing public health campaigns and messages. Government agencies and health organizations use TV to promote vaccination, disease awareness, and behavior change initiatives.
- Medical Information and Updates: Health experts and medical professionals often appear on television to provide updates on health-related issues, including emerging diseases, treatments, and medical breakthroughs. This keeps the public informed and aware.
- Disease Awareness: Television can raise awareness about specific diseases, their symptoms, and risk factors. It encourages early detection, diagnosis, and treatment, potentially saving lives.
- Healthy Lifestyle Promotion: Television can promote a healthy lifestyle by showcasing fitness routines, exercise programs, and healthy cooking shows. Such content can inspire viewers to adopt healthier habits.
- Mental Health Awareness: Television can contribute to reducing the stigma surrounding mental health issues. Documentaries, interviews, and storylines in TV shows can help increase understanding and empathy for those dealing with mental health challenges.
- Substance Abuse Prevention: TV programmes and public service announcements can educate viewers about the dangers of substance abuse, addiction, and available support services. They encourage individuals to seek help when needed.
- Emergency Health Information: During health crises and emergencies, television serves as a critical source of real-time information and instructions for the public. It helps disseminate information on safety measures and emergency response protocols.
- Healthy Eating and Nutrition: Cooking shows and nutrition programs on television can teach viewers about healthy eating habits, meal planning, and the benefits of a balanced diet. This information promotes better nutrition and reduces the risk of diet-related health issues.
- Community Health Initiatives: Television can highlight local and community-based health initiatives, such as free health clinics, vaccination drives, and blood donation campaigns. It encourages community involvement in health-related activities.
- Advocacy for Health Policy: Television can serve as a platform for discussing and advocating for health policy changes and healthcare reform. It can raise awareness of healthcare inequalities and the need for accessible and affordable healthcare services.
Crisis Counseling and Support: Television can provide crisis helpline numbers and resources for individuals in distress, offering immediate assistance and support for mental health, domestic violence, and other health-related crises.