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Monday, July 23, 2012

What Is Broadcasting?

Broadcasting is the distribution of audio and/or video signals which transmit programs to an audience. The audience may be the general public or a relatively large sub-audience, such as children or young adults.

There are wide variety of broadcasting systems, all of which have different capabilities. The largest broadcasting systems are institutional public address systems, which transmit nonverbal messages and music within a school or hospital, and low-powered broadcasting systems which transmit radio stations or television stations to a small area. National radio and television broadcasters have nationwide coverage, using retransmitter towers, satellite systems, and cable distribution. Satellite radio and television broadcasters can cover even wider areas, such as entire continents, and Internet channels can distribute text or streamed music worldwide.

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. Television and radio programs are distributed through radio broadcasting or cable, often both simultaneously. By coding signals and having decoding equipment in homes, the latter also enables subscription-based channels and pay-per-view services.

The term "broadcast" originally referred to the sowing of seeds by scattering them over a wide field. It was adopted to refer to the analagous dissemenation of signals by early radio engineers from the midwestern United States. Broadcasting forms a very large segment of the mass media. Broadcasting to a very narrow range of audience is called narrowcasting.

Economically there are a few ways in which stations are able to continually broadcast. Each differs in the method by which stations are funded:

* in-kind donations of time and skills by volunteers (common with community broadcasters)
* direct government payments or operation of public broadcasters
* indirect government payments, such as radio and television licenses
* grants from foundations or business entities
* selling advertising or sponsorships
* public subscription or membership

Broadcasters may rely on a combination of these business models. For example, National Public Radio, a non-commercial network within the United States, receives grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (which in turn receives funding from the U.S. government), by public membership, and by selling "extended credits" to corporations

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