On April 30, 1939, NBC began regular television service with a telecast of the opening of the New York World's Fair. There have been innumerable changes in the medium in the 50 years since that first flickering image of President Roosevelt appeared. The third edition of "Les Brown's Encyclopedia of Television" is a comprehensive chronicle of "the television that was, the television that is and the television that probably will be.
This updated edition, the first in 10 years, contains almost 3,000 entries on the people, programs, and companies as well as the legal and technological issues of the television industry. The coverage is both historical and current. Though the majority of entries cover U.S. television, information on major markets in Europe, Canada, and other places is included. Readers will find information on hit shows of the past and present, from "I Love Lucy" to "The Simpsons." All of the major networks are covered and many of the behind-the-scenes executives and producers. Such issues as "Family Viewing Time", "Violence", and "Children's Advertising" are also treated
Of the entries, 900 are new to this edition and others have undergone revision or updating. Some of the new entries cover programs that have debuted in recent years, such as "Murphy Brown," "L.A. Law," and "The Cosby Show." Entries for other series, such as "M*A*S*H" or "Little House on the Prairie," were expanded to reflect changes in the cast, etc. Information on cable television has been expanded with the new articles "Cable Labs", "Cable Penetration", and "Cable Networks"
In addition to new and expanded entries, this edition of the encyclopedia has a general index and new and expanded tables in the appendix. Appendixes include tables on the top-rated network prime-time feature films, sports events, and programs; the Super Bowl rating history; television households in the U.S.; a list of FCC commissioners; and a list of European satellite broadcasters. A brief bibliography includes works from the last 20 years that deal with the television industry
Brown as editor is aided by a notable list of contributors who can be found at the beginning of the volume. These include journalists and writers who have observed the industry for many years. Each contributor was responsible for certain sections of the encyclopedia. For example, Morton Silverstein, a producer of news documentaries for all three major networks, was responsible for the entries dealing with news and documentaries
Libraries with earlier editions will want to add this new edition of the encyclopedia. Coverage of individual programs is not as extensive as in "The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network Shows 1946-Present" (5th ed., Ballantine, 1992), but "Les Brown's Encyclopedia" is an excellent and easy-to-use resource for information on all aspects of television.
****Earlier editions (1972 & 1982) are cited in BCL3 and Sheehy. Some 3,000 entries (900 new) describe programs and personalities from the birth of the industry until today. In addition, coverage encompasses technological matters, legal issues and cases, mergers and acquisitions, terms and concepts, and events in the industry's history. The scope is international. Includes some small photos, but the temptation to litter the text with portraits and stills has been resisted. Nicely produced. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)