The introduction of the television into Australian houses was an exciting time for all those involved. The black and white programs were vastly different from radio, books and the newspaper and parents and kids were both eager to try out this new technology. Growing up today where television is an essential household item which dominates the lounge room it was interesting to reflect on Jane’s experience with television. Jane grew up in the country town of Wagga Wagga and her experience with television is vastly different to mine. During late primary school her family bought a television set for their home. On top of paying for a television each household had to then purchase a licence from the government in order to keep the television.
(Historic Wagga Wagga. Photo cred: http://tinyurl.com/qjzfayo)
Watching television was also different, if you turned the television on before 4pm you were greeted with test pattern. Television programs didn’t start until after 4pm and then it was limited to two channels, the local channel RVN 2 which was Wagga Wagga’s commercial channel and the ABC. Watching television for Jane was a luxury that was only experienced on weekends in her household, Jane reveals however that she didn’t watch much television on the weekends anyway because she was busy playing sports or attending girl guides.
(An example of test pattern. Photo cred: http://tinyurl.com/pg79det)
As the conversation progressed we started to talk about the television space. In 2015 the living room of the common Australian household is dominated by the television. It is generally one of the largest items in the room and dictates the furniture and surroundings. Jane’s television was kept in the living room however it was not placed in the centre of the room. The television was placed in the corner of the room and the furniture was situated to allow people to talk comfortably while also facing each other. I asked Jane how her current living room looks and if she still keeps the television in the corner. She laughed. Of course it’s in the middle of the room.
The conversation then moved to our current television habits. Whilst living at home I use to consume a lot of television at night especially in my gap year after work and on weekends however two years ago when I moved onto campus accommodation my viewing time decreased rapidly. The only television I watch now it’s the NRL live on fox sports. Jane’s television habits have changed as well, she watches a lot more television now compared to as a teenager. She doesn’t let television dictate her life though, she will only watch television if she is interested in a show and her television is never left on just for the sake of it.
Before interviewing Jane whilst writing down some question I asked myself what is my fondest moment of television? I couldn’t think of an answer. My television viewing was never strictly dominated by the television set. Television acted as more of a background noise whilst my attention flicked between my phone, laptop and occasionally back to the television. I was sure this was common with my generation and my friends at college gave the exact same answer. When asking Jane what her fondest memory of watching television was she could quickly respond with a story. ‘When I was a child in primary school we would head over to Grandma and Grandpa’s for Sunday lunch. After lunch Grandma would let my brother, sister and I into the living room to watch some television. My favourite show was ‘The Black and White Minstrel Show’ which was a highly inappropriate show where the actors would paint their faces black and dance around however we all loved it and it was always a highlight of the week’.
(The Black and White Minstrel Show. Cred: atlantic1952)
Whilst this generation has changed televisions priority to feature a more back ground role to say that television will eventually be phased out in favour of online streaming and internet video services like YouTube is illogical.
Livingstone, S 2009, Half a century of television in the lives of our children. The ANNALS of the American academy of political and social science, 625 . pp. 151-163. ISSN 0002-7162