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"The emergence of television as a mass medium of communication was the key turning point in improving leisure opportunities for the ordinary people of Britain." How far do you agree with this statement?

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

"The emergence of television as a mass medium of communication was the key turning point in improving leisure opportunities for the ordinary people of Britain." How far do you agree with this statement? At the beginning of the 20th century, the lives of 'ordinary people' were not ideally suited to the world of leisure. An urbanised workforce and an economy geared toward industry saw lower-class people working long hours at a low pay rate. This style of living left hardly any free time and disposable income, both key requirements for leisure opportunities. The aristocracy had always revelled in the world of leisure; their high incomes and low maintenance professions gave them a perfect framework for pursuits such as dancing, theatre going, hunting, socialising and horse riding. Although there were popular activities of the working classes - family games within the home for example, or more commonly, an evening spent in the local pub - leisure was limited. I believe that television was the key form of mass communication to improve the leisure opportunities of the working classes as it was accessible, cheap, and knew how to cater for changing styles and tastes. When television was first introduced on a wide scale in 1936 only a small percentage of the British public owned a television license.

Middle

The 1960s has been described as the decade of 'television revolution', with the introduction of many new programmes designed for the working classes. The new ITV channel had been very successful since it's launch in 195_ and the BBC split into BBC1 and BBC2 in the early sixties, with colour being introduced in 1968. Political satire (such as That was the week that was) challenged the idea that politicians were 'better' people, and black comedies such as Steptoe and Son took a bleak but realistic look at ordinary peoples lives. Television had become so important to the ordinary people of Britain by the 1960s, that it was feared to have an effect on voting turnout. In 196_ Steptoe and Son was postponed until after the polls had closed to encourage working class Labour supporters to register their vote, and possibly as a result, Wilson won the election. Television's popularity continued into the seventies, where statistics showed that around 90% of the British public owned a television, and the extreme popularity of new shows gave seventies' television the title of 'the Golden Era'. In comparison with cinema, television has been substantially more important as a leisure opportunity on a longer timescale.

Conclusion

On a timescale of the last 60 years, it would be accurate to say that while cinema has gradually died in popularity, television has gone from strength to strength. Between 1946 and the 1980s 15,00 cinemas closed down all over Britain and the average attendance figure shot down from 40 times a year to only 1.2. Whereas after world war two, television became what cinema had been beforehand. Furthermore, unlike the popularity of cinema, television-viewing figures climbed to dizzying heights in the seventies when audiences could reach numbers of ____ for certain shows such as 'The Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special' of 197_. Compared to the changing prices of other leisure activities, the traditional television package has remained relatively inexpensive, yet has improved technologically and has stayed in tune with youth culture. In the nineties television caters for all sectors of society - whether it be due to the choice of programming or channels found on terrestrial TV (ITV is commonly known to provide shows aimed at a more working class audience whilst Channel 4 is often identified as a more youth orientated channel) or the vast amount of channels on satellite and digital television ranging from Punjabi music television to gardening channels. I believe that television was the key turning point in providing leisure opportunities to the 'ordinary people of Britain'.

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