television "station" is an organization that broadcasts one video
and audio signal on a specified frequency, or channel. A station
can "produce" or originate its own programming, purchase individual
programs from a program producer or syndicator, or affiliate with
a "network" that provides a partial or complete schedule of programming.
The term "station" is usually used to designate a local broadcast
facility that includes origination and/or playback equipment and
a transmitter, with the station being the last link between program
producers and the viewer. Because the number of television channels
available is limited, permission to operate a television station
must usually be obtained from a governmental agency (in the United
States, television stations are licensed by the Federal Communications
Commission) and must operate within technical limitations to avoid
interfering with signals from other television stations.
Television stations can be classified as "commercial" or "public"
depending upon whether their source of funding is advertising revenue
or government subsidy (although some stations rely upon both). Most
television stations are divided into departments according to the
primary functions of the station. The programming department is
responsible for procuring and/or producing programming for the station
and arranging the individual programs into a program schedule. The
engineering department is responsible for the technical upkeep of
station equipment, including transmitters, video recorders, switching
equipment, and production equipment. The production department is
responsible for producing local programs, commercial announcements,
and other materials needed for broadcast. Many stations also have
a news department that specializes in the production of news broadcasts.
Commercial stations have a sales department responsible for selling
commercial advertisements; many noncommercial stations have a similar
"underwriting" department responsible for soliciting funds for the
station. The promotions department is responsible for informing
the audience about the program schedule using announcements on the
station and in other media, such as newspapers and radio. Finally,
many stations also have a business department responsible for collecting
and distributing the revenues of the station. These departments
are usually supervised by a station manager, general manager or
organization that owns or operates more than one station is known
as a station group. There is a great deal of diversity in the manner
in which groups operate individual stations. Some groups operate
all the stations as a single unit, buying and scheduling programming
for the station group as a unit in order to take advantage of economies
of scale in negotiating the purchase price of programming or equipment.
Other groups operate each station autonomously, with minimal group
control over the daily operation of each station.
the United States, the size of a station group is limited by federal
regulations. As a result, the concentration of ownership of local
television stations is extremely low, with 1181 commercial television
stations being operated by more than 150 station groups as of early
stations and stations groups are owned by companies with interests
in other media. For example, the Tribune Company owns ten television
stations, including WPIX (New York), KTLA (Los Angeles), and WGN
(Chicago), as well as four radio stations, four daily newspapers
(including the Chicago Tribune), and a television syndication
company. Changes in broadcast ownership restrictions in the United
States are expected to lead to larger station groups and increasing
cross-ownership of broadcast and other media. (As of mid-1996, a
station group was limited to 12 or fewer stations serving a maximum
of 25% of the U.S. population.)
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R.R. Bowker, 1995.
Hilliard, R. L. TV Station Operations and Management. Newton,
Massachusetts: Focal, 1989.
F.L., M. Meeske, and J.W. Wright, III. Electronic Media and Government:
the Regulation of Wireless and Wired Communication in the United
States. White Plains, New York: Longman, 1995.