To what extent can television still be considered a ‘live’ medium? Does television still emphasise the idea of itself as an ‘event’? Even if, say, the program is recorded (maybe something like Glee), does it still treat these as an occasion to watch together as an event?…
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To say, hence, that it is “still alive” as if it is already clutching for dear life would be an understatement. The fact is that live television is a platform by which people are informed today. So long as there are events like disasters, sports, and political exercise such as election, among others, the relevance exists more than ever. The proliferation of canned television shows does not diminish it. Defining “Live” Bourdon (2000) explained that the concept of “live” television is fundamentally a label expressing a technological capability (532). It brings people from everywhere - whether at home, work, bars, even the streets - to events as they happen. In the discourse trying to specify the meaning of television and to differentiate it from the cinema, “liveness” is one of the three identified characteristics that made the medium unique (the other two are screen size and domestic reception) (532). “Liveness” also denotes the aspect of television that is identified with truth, facts and authenticity. Bourdon cited this point as he defined live television a live transmission of events to the viewers through the use of technological apparatus, making it a public phenomenon since it allows people to live event simultaneously (534). This definition implies two important characteristics. It is all about transmission of events as they occur and, at the same time, it is also about people viewing events together. The concept of “live” also assumed several meanings. Bourdon comprehensively cited many excellent examples. For example, when a singer does not lip synch in the performance, then it is called live musical performance. There is also the case of talk shows. Resource persons are invited and are moderated by hosts to tell the audience about their lives or to discuss interesting topics (Bourdon, 532). Bourdon argued that live television is present in many programs and television sequences (533). This variable indicates the persistence and permeation of live broadcast even on genre that are not classified with news and reporting on current affairs. Bourdon, called this socio-semiotic unity, a fundamental force that ensures the persistence and survival of “live” television throughout history (532). Out of all the definitions, White helpfully pointed out that “ liveness” is the ultimate concept that “subsumes a host of other qualities and characteristics” and that it “serves as “an anchor for the properties considered essentially televisual - immediacy, presence, reality effects, intimacy and so on” (81). Covering Catastrophe The recent devastation wrought by the super typhoon Haiyan both to human lives and to property in Tacloban City, Philippines is the most recent testament not only to the viewers’ recognition and acceptance towards “live” broadcast but also its relevance and contribution to television as a medium. Certainly, the most advanced technologies have enabled many reporters to cover the event live as the storm raged even when power, communications and transportation became unreliable. Reports were beamed from the city to the United States as the storm unfolded real time. The static and interference in transmission all served to highlight the catastrophe in the process of flattening
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