Top 10 Technological Innovations in TV Broadcasting

Bandwidth Regulation
A Pye B16T television, manufactured circa 1946 for the U.K. market (┬ęSSPL/Getty Images)

Radio frequencies (RF) in the electromagnetic spectrum were first allocated by the Federal Radio Commission, established by the Radio Act of 1927 to regulate all wireless communications. In 1934, the Communications Act established a new regulatory agency in its place called the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which handled regulation of radio, telephone and other communications methods, including assignment of bandwidths. This was deemed necessary to make communications available nationwide, to prevent interference between stations and to make acquisition of the frequencies equitable.

In 1941, the FCC set aside portions of the spectrum for television. It allowed 6 MHz for each channel, and this 6 MHz was to carry both video and audio signals. This was the same year that the National Television Standards Committee (NTSC) developed standards for black-and-white analog TV transmissions in the U.S. Prior to 1952, VHF channels two through 13 were made available. In 1952, the FCC opened up 70 new channels for television, 14 through 83, known as the UHF channels.

The FCC regulates non-federal use, which includes use by local, state and private entities, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) regulates federal spectrum use (for such entities as the military and the FAA). As of February 2013, frequency bands between 9 KHz and 275 GHz have been allocated to various parties. These allocations include far more than television, for instance radio, telephone and wireless services, as well as emergency services. Unlicensed portions of the bandwidth have been set aside for things like garage door openers, remote controls and WiFi. In 2009, most of the bands formerly assigned to analog television were freed for other uses by the government-mandated analog-to-digital conversion.