World Television Day – November 21, 2020

Sat Nov 21
In 1996, the United Nations general assembly declared November 21 World Television Day. The UN recognized television as having an increased impact on decision making as well as being an ambassador for the entertainment industry. Television is a symbol of communication and globalization that educates, informs, entertains and influences our decisions and opinions.

History of World Television Day

In 1927, a 21 year old inventor by the name of Philo Taylor Farnsworth invented the world’s first electronic television. He lived in a home without electricity until he was 14 years old. In high school, he began to think of a system that could capture moving pictures, change them into a code, and them move those images with radio waves to different devices. He was years ahead of the mechanical television system as his structure captured moving images using a beam of electrons. Farnsworth later famously transmitted the image of a dollar sign using his television after a fellow inventor asked “When are we going to see some dollars from this thing?” Neither of them knew the television would become the emblem for an international day promoting the spread of global information.

On November 21 and 22 in 1996, the United Nations held the first World Television Forum. Here, leading media figures met to discuss the growing significance of television in the rapidly changing world and consider how they might enhance their mutual cooperation. UN leaders recognized that television could bring attention to conflicts, raise awareness of threats to peace and security, and sharpen focus on social and economic issues. Television was acknowledged as a major tool in informing, channeling, and affecting public opinion, having an undoubtable presence and influence on world politics. Because of this event, the UN General Assembly decided to name November 21 World Television Day, not to celebrate the object itself, but the symbol for communication and globalization in the contemporary world that it represents.

World Television Day timeline


A global icon

The United Nations General Assembly coined November 21 World Television Day


Modern news network

CNN was founded by Ted Turner in Atlanta, Georgia


The first broadcast

The first mechanical tv station called W3XK, created by Charles Francis Jenkins aired its first broadcast.


Playing with electricity

Philo Taylor Farnsworth invented the world's first electronic television.

World Television Day FAQs

Why do we celebrate World Television Day?

The United Nations recognizes television plays a major role in presenting different issues that affect people, so we celebrate how television is a symbol for communication and global education. 

Who first invented television?

The first electronic television was invented by 21 year old inventor Philo Taylor Farnsworth.

What is the role of television in education?

Educational television programs for children, such as Sesame Street, use media to keep children engaged while teaching them about numbers, letters, and social skills. 

World Television Day Activities

  1. Share your favorite TV moment

    There’s a lot to love and get excited about on television. Head over to social media and write about your favorite television moment, whether it happened last week or 20 years ago.

  2. Have a TV themed night

    Invite over your favorite people for TV dinners while watching your favorite program. Complete the evening with a family game like Scene It, or a television themed game like Loony Tunes, Monopoly, or Yu-Gi-Oh!

  3. Go ahead and binge

    Do you forego a good TV binge because you think you should be getting stuff done? This day was made for you! Put on some cozy sweats, make yourself some popcorn and indulge in episode after episode of your favorite show. If you feel any guilt over such a leisurely activity, remind yourself that you're supporting the ideals of the United Nations with your actions—or in this case, inaction.

Why We Love World Television Day

  1. It acknowledges a daily part of our lives

    In the United States, on average, people watch 3.5 hours of television a day. Whether it's news, sports, concerts, shows, or movies we turn to television to entertain and inform. Television as entertainment isn’t limited to the United States either. There are roughly 610 million viewers globally. Knowing there is a day devoted to its higher purposes allows us to feel better about our decision to indulge in a little T.V. at the end of the day.

  2. It’s a beneficial medium worthy of recognition

    At one time, television meant the box sitting in the living room that received radio waves and transmitted images. Those days are gone. Television is now any system which transmits sound and images and is displayed on a screen. It can still be the big screen in the den, but it also refers to your desktop, laptop or phone. As long as they're accessing programs, they're fair game! With its many innovations, T.V. is a source of entertainment and information we access daily.

  3. TV creates community

    Head to social media and type in your favorite television show, news program or network and there will be plenty of comments, likes and shares. Television offers a commonly held experience to talk about with others. So whether your interests extend to who has died on The Walking Dead or an interview with the president on Face the Nation, there is a whole community in the virtual world with whom you can gossip.

World Television Day dates

2020November 21Saturday
2021November 21Sunday
2022November 21Monday
2023November 21Tuesday
2024November 21Thursday