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increasingly in color from 1957. Until 1963, viewers in Germany were offered only one black-and-white channel, in the evenings only. Even so it can be assumed that from 1965, with currently ten million television sets and statistically 2.5 viewers each, «television is already reaching the whole German nation.»[3]

A medium without art

Television is the most efficient reproduction and distribution medium in human history, but it can scarcely be said to have come up with anything in the last half century that could be called an art form unique to that medium. The high-low distinction never took hold here in the way that it did in film. There is no form of high television culture that could be seen as a lasting cultural asset to be preserved for future generations.[4] The only exception is the music clip, which has emerged since the 1980s. Selected examples of this form have attracted accolades in the context of art and become part of museum collections. They are often seen as a continuation of the 1920s avant-garde absolute films. This analogy, which is entirely justifiable


in certain cases, should not conceal the fact that they are primarily music industry advertising and therefore not part of modern art history, unless we accept that it lost its absolute autonomy with the onset of postmodernism. It is significant that in the 1980s MTV in particular spearheaded the advance of Americanstyle commercial TV against the European public service model with its state-anchored cultural role. For all these reasons, television has given far less of a boost to cultural, and certainly not to artistic, utopias than did radio or film since the 1920s. It was only welcomed before it was introduced, with vigor unclouded by actual experience of the medium. This applies to the Futurists in 1933 («La Radia») and to Lucio Fontana in 1952. In the early 1950s, the introduction of television did trigger the beginning of a debate about its possible artistic characteristics. But in Germany in particular many authors pretentiously brandished the term ‹art› even in the title of their publications, as if it were the universal weapon against media skepticism, a skepticism that was justified both by American commercialism and National Socialist propaganda, which was boasting even in 1935 that it was running the world's first regular

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