Thursday, February 26, 2009

International Television and Video Almanac

The International Television and Video Almanac has an amazing amount of information tucked within its pages. It is one of the few public sources of industry statistics including viewing habits, market areas, and cable penetration. The Nielsen ratings for the top primetime programs are provided every year as well as the year's top home video sales. Because of this source has published annually for more than fifty years it allows comparisons and viewing of trends across a wide span of television history. (The San Francisco Public Library has a complete collection of the Almanac starting with the first edition in 1956).

Each volume opens with the year in review in the television and video industry mentioning the year's major trends and issues. For example, the 2008 volume devotes attention to Youtube and its legal issues. It was sued by Viacom for showing pirated material and also reached agreements with NBC and CBS and is trying to make deals with other companies.

The Biography section lists living actors, directors, executives, producers providing a career resume plus their film and television credits. This is followed by a bare-bones obituary listing of names and death dates providing a necrology for those who passed away during the previous year.

The next section on primetime programming is divided into three chapters. Television series are listed alphabetically by network. Information given includes how old the series is, the production company, executive producers, air date, and hosts or actors. The past year's Television Movies and Mini-Series are listed alphabetically by title in the following chapter. A five year range of older television movie and miniseries concludes this section.

Under the category of Stations and Ownership, television stations are listed alphabetically by state, then alphabetically with each market. Licensee, group owner, and contact information, as well as general and operating managers and other administration may also be listed. There is then a listing of all network affiliates as well as overviews of the top television ownership groups.

The next chapter concerns networks, producers and distributors. The Corporate Histories of the networks tie up facts that may have eluded the occasional television viewer. For instance, the CW was born in 2006 when Warner Brothers and CBS Corporation announced they would replace the WB and UPN networks: the “C” standing for CBS, UPN’s owner and “W” for Warner Brothers. Following this are listings of network executives in individual corporate divisions. The section on Cable, Satellite and Interactive give divisions and executives in the same format.

Whatever the production need one may have, the section on production services can probably help. It provides a directory of public relations firms, animation companies, casting directors, entertainment lawyers, film stock, costume and prop rentals, special effects and more. There is even a category for “breakaway” glass--a material that shatters easily, but is much safer than “real” glass.

The International Television and Video Almanac also provides listings of professional and government agencies including city and state film commissions, as well as contact information for the Federal Communications Commission and the Screen Actors Guild.

The last section highlights the World Market. Although the entries for Canada and the United Kingdom are rather detailed, for the rest of the world there is only an overview of broadcast, cable and satellite stations and networks.

If this entry has seemed overly long, it is only because International Television and Video Almanac packs so much information into its 1,000+ pages. The current edition is found at the Art, Music and Recreation Center reference desk while earlier editions may be requested at the Fourth Floor page desk.

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