Denis McQuail provides a coherent and succinct account of the concept of ‘media audience’ in terms of its history and its place in present-day media theory and research. McQuail describes and explains the main types of audience and the main traditions and fields of audience research. Audience Analysis explains the contrast between social scientific and humanistic approaches and gives due weight to the view ‘from the audience’ as well as the view ‘from the media.’ McQuail summarizes key research findings and assesses the impact of new media developments, especially transnationalization and new interactive technology.

Questions of Media Reach

Questions of Media Reach

Questions of media reach

The Need to Know the “Objective” Audience

The least problematic version of the audience concept is probably that which underlies the “ratings” in their various forms. The questions that then arise stem almost exclusively from what has been called the “institutional” point of view—the view from media industries. According to Ang (1991), “institutional knowledge … is [interested] in ‘television audience’ which it constructs as an objectified category of others to be controlled” (p. 154). It is primarily the media providers and some communicators themselves who need to know just who and how many are reached by their messages. This point of view has largely been taken over by mainstream mass communication research, especially when it is carried out for ...

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