• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

This book by two leading experts takes a fresh look at the nature of television, starting from an audience perspective. It draws on over twenty years of research about the audience in the United States and Britain and about the many ways in which television is funded and organized around the world.

The overall picture which emerges is of: a medium which is watched for several hours a day but usually at only a low level of involvement; an audience which views mainly for relaxation but which actively chooses favourite programmes; a flowering of new channels but with no fundamental change in what or how people watch; programmes costing millions to produce but only a few pennies to view; a wide range of programme types apparently similar to the range of print media but with nothing like the same degree of audience ‘segmentation’; a global communication medium of dazzling scale, speed, and impact but which is slow at conveying complex information and perhaps less powerful than generally assumed.

The book is packed with information and insights yet is highly readable. It is unique in relating so many of the issues raised by television to how we watch it. There is also a highly regarded appendix on advertising, as well as technical notes, a glossary, and references for further reading.

The Giant Medium
The giant medium

By any measure, television today is the giant among media. The amount of time that people give to it, and how and why they do so, throws light on the many practical and ethical concerns surrounding television. In Chapter 1 we stress the need to link our thinking about these concerns with how the audience actually uses television. The chapter also gives an overview of how we address this in the five parts of the book.

Chapter 2 looks at how much time people spend in front of their television sets, how this amount varies among individuals, and how people spread their viewing across different times of the day and week. Whereas overall viewing levels follow regular patterns and are fairly ...

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