The broadcast industry is one of the most challenging industries to break into. If you want to have an edge among your colleagues, knowing broadcasting terms is a must.
Broadcast refers to the simultaneous transmission of messages to multiple recipients. Radio and television broadcasts are two of the most popular forms of broadcasts, where a program is sent for public consumption through airwaves. Through this, anyone who has a receiver can tune in to a channel.
With thousands of employees that earn competitive salaries, many individuals think that the industry is all glitz and glam. However, what many people don’t see is the amount of effort being put forth by technicians, DJs, actors, and crew behind the scenes to get this important industry running.
With the growing demand for content across various mediums, expertise is crucial. Without knowledge of basic broadcasting terms, your chance of getting hired is slim. Take the initiative to learn the broadcasting terms below and go and get your dream job.
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This post was updated on March 2021
What Is Broadcasting?
Broadcast is probably the term you’ll encounter the most. Knowing its meaning is essential if you want to be successful in the industry.
Due to the advent of technology, other types of broadcasts have developed apart from traditional television and radio stations. But these newer broadcast types are distributed using streaming techniques. Anyone with internet can access these broadcast options similarly to other publicly available broadcasts. Historically, broadcasts focused on public service and funded by the government. Now, broadcast media is mostly private and earns money through advertising, among many other avenues.
Because broadcasting covers a wide array of communication mediums, many people can get confused. Advertising, online streaming, radio, podcasts, television, and even digital journalism are types of media.
The general purpose of broadcast media is to give valuable information to people. This requirement can be interviews, news programs, announcements, and weather forecasts. Aside from being informational, forms of broadcasting can also serve a recreational purpose such as films, sports, and reality television.
A broadcast is made possible by powerful servers that broadcast in real-time and make programs suitable for various mediums. Big stations require large amounts of resources to broadcast seamlessly.
How It Works
Millions of people tune in to various broadcasts every day. But not everyone is familiar with how it works. Before you learn important broadcasting terms, you first have to know its key elements.
Television broadcasts involve several major parts, such as an image source, transmitter, sound source, display device, receiver, and sound device. All these tools work hand in hand to get the video and/or audio transmitted over the air to your television set. With TV, a ground transmitter is responsible for transmitting airwaves. These signals are picked up for free on devices that can accommodate their frequency.
Satellite TVs run thanks to digital TV signals broadcasted from satellites that orbit the earth. Consumers usually pay for special equipment that operates on certain frequencies. Finally, cable TV sends out signals through cables from a cable company to homes. These cables include fiber optic or copper and can either be analog or digital.
On the other hand, radio waves allow you to hear your favorite music. Both AM and FM work the same way, with a slight difference in how the carrier wave is altered and modulated. In AM radio, the amplitude and strength of the signal vary to incorporate the information. In FM, the frequency of the signal changes.
You may notice when you’re listening to the radio as you drive that an FM signal has advantages compared to AM signal. While both are prone to amplitude changes, only AM broadcasts have a problem with static. With FM, a minor amplitude change won’t matter since the signal is conveyed through frequency changes. Because of this, FM stations won’t have static.
Broadcasting Terms You Need to Know
Now that you know what broadcast is and how it works, it’s time to familiarize yourself with some of the broadcasting terms you’ll always hear while working. Take note that the glossary of broadcasting terms is incredibly vast. These are common terms in TV and radio broadcasting.
A/D refers to the conversion from analog to digital. One example of this is light entering the camera turned into a digital signal. An electronic device, called analog to digital converter (ADC), is an essential component to make this work.
Analog signals usually have a continuous sequence and values. And these signals may come from temperature, motion, sound, or light. Digital signals are represented by discrete values and the signal is broken down into sequences. The converters follow a sequence to convert analog from digital. First, the signal is sampled and then quantified to determine the ideal resolution. Finally, binary values are set so the system can read the signal.
This term refers to the number of listeners that send messages or calls a radio to request songs. In many cases, these people also join radio contests or call for additional information or requests.
Also called AQH, this term refers to the number of people who tune in to a radio station or watch a television station for a least five minutes in a 15-minute span. This measure is an important statistic and one of the broadcasting terms you’ll constantly hear.
If you love radio, you’ve most probably heard a disc jockey announce the song title and artist of a track that just played. This situation is called backsell since the song has already played and the information came afterwards.
The difference between the upper and lower frequencies in a band of frequencies is called bandwidth and is measured in hertz. In radio, bandwidth is the frequency range occupied by a carrier signal. This is one of the broadcasting terms essential not only in broadcasting but also in information theory, electronics, spectroscopy, and digital communication.
This term refers to a track, with or without vocals, combined with other tracks to make a composition. It also includes sound effects played during announcements, commercials, and promos.
Companies pay radio stations for advertising. However, this does not just involve traditional commercials. Most times, a DJ thanks a sponsor during the start and end of weather and traffic reports or other programs. This short announcement is called billboard.
Blanking is a short period in the television scanning process when the electron beam goes from the bottom to the top or right to left of the screen. This method renders the signal invisible. It is also during this time when teletext occurs.
Radio and television signals do not reach all areas. This restriction is a blind spot. It also includes places where the signal is very weak.
Most shows and programs you hear on the television and radio have been shot or recorded beforehand. These canned media can easily be repeated for future use if the response is great or if there’s a shortage of content. Sometimes, there can also be canned effects inserted on shows such as laughter.
Sometimes, you just can’t find the right channel or radio station to watch. If you are scanning channels until you find something that catches your attention, you are channel surfing. This situation is made easier thanks to remote controls and usually happens on weekends and nighttime. Channel surfing affects advertisers negatively. Therefore, it has inspired a seamless show-to-show transition and short commercials.
A closed-captioned program is broadcast with captions only seen with a unique receiver.
One of the most used broadcasting terms is clutter, which refers to the excessive amount of non-program elements that appear one after another. This term includes commercials.
Direct Broadcast Satellite
Also called DBS, this term refers to programming services available to those with a home satellite-dish.
Dead air is a time in which the audience cannot hear any audible transmission from radio or television. This term also refers to when a DJ runs out of words to say and there is an unwarranted pause.
This technique involves a program presented twice in a single night or a week in hopes to gather more audience.
Most television stations have a dedicated time slot when the shows do not include sex and violence. This period usually runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. During this time, children can watch television shows freely or with only limited guidance.
Fin-syn regulations are laws passed by the Federal Communications Commission which limit the ownership of the networks of programs they air. This law prevents networks from gaining financial interest in the distribution, except abroad.
A hammock is the programming slot between two popular shows. This time slot is used to air or launch a new program or show.
High Definition Television
High Definition Television or HDTV changed the game for television broadcasts. This standard offers a higher resolution made possible by a high number of scan lines. This method started in Japan and spread to the US and the rest of the world.
Home Using Television (HUTs) is an important measure for researchers. It refers to houses which have a television. Another measure called People Using Television (PUTs) refers to the number of people instead of the number of televisions.
This method permits wide-screen films shown on television which preserves its original aspect ratio by putting black bars on the top and bottom of the screen.
The pilot is a one-time episode of a series considered by a network. The pilot’s success usually determines whether or not the network will continue the series.
Public Service Announcement
This commercial, usually free, is given to the audience to show safety information, such as what to do during typhoons, floods, and many more.
This term is another statistical measure that shows the familiarity of products, public figures, and performers.
This broadcasting term refers to a television or radio commercial.
A stunt is a program move that transfers a show from its original time slot to a better one or multiple periods. This technique can increase ratings or introduce a new show.
In specific months, researchers measure the audience of different television markets. The findings of this study are crucial for local stations since it shows comparative ratings and an in-depth view of their audience. These stats also impact advertising rates.
Before a show begins, television and radio stations usually give people a teaser. Its goal is to grab the attention of the audience and highlight the synopsis of a show before it begins. This way, it can easily draw watchers.
Familiarize Yourself With The Jargon
The broadcast industry is now more vibrant than ever. If you’re getting into the business or want to catapult your career, becoming well-versed in broadcasting terms will truly help you. While the broadcasting terms may make you feel like you’re listening to a different language at the beginning, you are bound to understand these commonly used terms as you spend more time working.
If you’re already an experienced broadcaster, why not join Bunny Studio to receive access to high-quality gigs? We’d love to have you in our ever-expanding team!