Television is a medium characterized by the simultaneous dissemination and reproduction (often thousands of miles away) of either a scene captured and shown while it is taking place, or the recording of such a scene or scenes that took place earlier.
History of Television as a Medium
Television was not invented by one person, but by several persons, often working with competing technologies. Television as we know it today is electronic, which is the only form of television to become popular. Television might have become popular much sooner than it did, except that the Great Depression intervened shortly after the actual invention of the medium and made the medium a prohibitively expensive extravagance.
Television is both a dissemination medium and a means of recording motion pictures for later review, transmittal and exhibition.
Uses of Television
Television has a very wide variety of uses and seems destined not to become obsolete until the Second Coming of Christ. Its many uses include without limitation:
- As an aid to education, both by recording lectures, demonstrations, or field trips, and by repeating the voice and image of a lecturer to multiple locations in a large room, or even multiple rooms, to ensure that every attendee of a lecture is able to see and hear the speaker(s).
- As a means of disseminating current events.
- As a means of recording any action or actions that might become the subject of a legal contest. This is especially true today of police officers who might stand accused of the use of excessive force in the performance of duty, or otherwise improper performance of duty.
- As a means of setting a watch on any gate, room, or other venue that might become the scene of a crime or come under external attack.
- As a means of improved communication.
- As a safe way of "seeing" the scene of an industrial or other process--or accident--that would create danger to any person close enough to see it with his own eyes.
- As a tool of propaganda.
- As a form of theater.
The last use is definitely the most popular use of television today. Television as theater usually refers to the transmission of dramatic presentations either made especially for the medium or originally made to be exhibited in motion picture exhibition halls ("movie theaters") but now offered for instantaneous mass transmission. Television also is the modern means of allowing millions of people to view public games. Though the original public games of, say, the Roman Empire are no longer being staged, their spiritual descendants continue as, for example, automobile racing and various contact and non-contact sports. Virtually any spectacle that in earlier centuries would draw large numbers of attendees is a candidate for transmission on television. This especially includes the installation of a new head-of-state. For further discussions of television as theater (and its use and mis-use), see Theater.
That said, television has proved a much more versatile medium than film ever was, even for some of their common uses. A wide variety of educational programming, appealing to both refined and unrefined tastes, is now available. Television (and the closely related medium of radio) has proved a powerful medium for evangelism. The value of the programming content varies from high to questionable, but the potential of radio and television as potentiators of worship, as opposed to television as vulgar theater, has established itself clearly.
Possible Prophetic Significance of Television
The Bible says that the Second Advent will be visible instantaneously in every corner of the earth. Matthew 24:27 Some have interpreted that passage to mean that everyone will be able to see an image of Christ's return, because some television station will inevitably broadcast His Advent to the world. More likely, however, the Tribulation will see the use of television as propaganda substantially supplant its use as theater--and it will be the most powerful tool of propaganda ever devised, in the hands of the two entities (Revelation 13 ) who will so use it.