Today, 21 November, is United Nations World Television Day. It might seem odd to dedicate an entire day to television, but when you consider that the average European spends the equivalent of two working days a week watching it, maybe it’s not so surprising.
Check out the news video above of Italian Francesc Arellano who has a collection of over 1,000 objects related to the world of television! The Report: Collector of TVs and Television-Related Devices. From TVC and EUscreen, 1997. (Video opens in new window)
What happens in those 15 hours a week we spend curled up on our sofas staring at the box? We learn, we expand our view of the world, we laugh, we have something to talk to friends and colleagues about the next day. Increasingly we’re starring in our own TV shows too, capturing our thoughts, hobbies, and the antics of our pets on film along with important moments of our lives and uploading them to video sites like You Tube or Vimeo. Some would say we are also rotting our brains – one piece of research says that every hour of TV watched reduces our life by 22 minutes. We’re so used to TV that it’s not uncommon that when a telly is turned off people continue to sit and stare at the blank screen for a few seconds before starting a conversation.
Whatever your opinion of television, the cultural value of European audiovisual heritage cannot be overestimated. We’ve seen man land on the moon, we’ve seen the starts, the middles and ends of wars, we’ve watched great sporting achievements, shed tears over epic romances, laughed at endless re-runs of sitcoms. Television is a primary source for the understanding of political and social history while at the same time demonstrating the richness of European culture through its different traditions and languages. According to the UN, ‘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.’
One of the ways we bring television content to Europeana is through the EUscreen project, which has created sustainable access to, and enhanced the usability of, high quality audiovisual content from across Europe. Audiovisual archives, research partners, and technology providers throughout Europe have established an international partnership that focuses on providing online access to television heritage. Currently, only a small fragment of the already digitised audiovisual material is searchable online and accessible beyond national borders, but the project is working towards becoming the pan-European aggregator of existing digital cultural heritage for audiovisual collections. And that means more telly online for you to search, watch and enjoy!
Europeana currently gives you access to more than 165,000 videos from 34 different providers. Here’s the full search. What’s your favourite?
Some top picks from our friends at EUscreen are:
– The Pest county (NAVA) (subtitled)
– The football match England-The Netherlands in Huddersfield (SV, 1946)
– Venetian public houses (Luce, 1954)
– Polish fashion for New year’s Eve (1972, TVP)
– Commemoration of the victims of the revolution (9TV Romania, 1989)
Image credit: Preview photograph of uncle Walt by James Vaughan, CC-BY-SA.