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Power of storytelling to create change

24 November 2018 12:09 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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It is the show of shows and the greatest show on earth. On Wednesday, November 21, the United Nations marked World Television Day. In a statement, the world body says that news footage direct from the latest humanitarian crisis; documentaries putting a human face to crucial issues of our time — human rights, peace, security and development; live coverage of the UN Security Council as it responds to global crises, and of the annual General Assembly when world leaders gather there. 


The UN’s video producers report from locations around the globe — from peacekeeping missions such as Mali and South Sudan; from political missions in countries like Colombia and Afghanistan; and from the UN’s vast network of operations worldwide. 


Launched in 1947, UN Video is produced in the six official languages of the UN -- French, Spanish, English, Chinese, Arabic and Russian.

Highlights include an Oscar-winning short documentary on people with disabilities; an unprecedented Virtual Reality film on UN peacekeeping; and an urgent call for action on climate-change by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the UN says. 


In recognition of the increasing impact television has on decision-making by bringing world attention to conflicts and threats to peace and security and its potential role in sharpening the focus on other major issues, including economic and social issues, the UN General Assembly in 1996 proclaimed November 21 as World Television Day. 


World Television Day is not so much a celebration of the tool, but rather the philosophy which it represents. Television represents a symbol for communication and globalization in the contemporary world. 


On November 21 and 22, 1996, the UN held the first World Television Forum, where leading media figures met under the auspices of the UN to discuss the growing significance of television in today’s changing world and to consider how they might enhance their mutual cooperation. 


Television was thus acknowledged as a major tool in informing, channelling and shaping public opinion. Its impact and presence and its influence on world politics could not be denied, the UN says. 


The history of television starts long before screens and broadcast signals, and its end is nowhere in sight. To fully understand TV’s history, we need to understand a bit of its etymology, which happens to be interconnected with its invention, according to a website. 


The Russian scientist and inventor Constantin Perskyl is credited with coining the word “television” in 1900. The prefix, tele-, meaning ‘at a distance’ combined with the root, vision, perfectly described what he and several other inventors had created: a way to mechanically transmit and project images. 


The next two decades brought iteration after iteration of this groundbreaking technology. By 1928, the world’s first television station was launched in New York. Electronic TV quickly took over mechanical methods, and by the late 1930s, live broadcast had become a reality.

 
Since those early years, the word “television” has applied to the entire invention–the transmission medium (or broadcast technology), the programme to be viewed, and the projecting/viewing device. 


The ubiquity of television and an influx of engaging, critically-acclaimed programming earns this decade the moniker, “The Golden Age of Television.” Advertisers begin marketing products directly to consumers through TV programme sponsorship opportunities -- e.g. “soap operas” sponsored by cleaning products directed at women watching TV during the day. 


In Sri Lanka, Television was first launched in 1979, and the first station was the Independent Television Network (ITN). Later the government set up the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation. Today we have 38 channels telecasting a variety of programmes in Sinhala, Tamil and English.

Unfortunately, some of the channels do not live up to the values and principles outlined by the UN. Some even use the channels in a biased way relating to current news in support of different political parties. Another negative in Sri Lanka is the prime time given to melodramatic teledramas while important educational programmes for instance are seldom given prime time coverage. Also today, Sri  Lanka has smart TVs while hundreds of thousands of people watch TV programmes on their smart phones. So switch your TV on to be well informed, educated and entertained. 

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