• 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.

Introduction and Overview
Introduction and overview

Watching television is a major feature of modern life in developed countries and, increasingly, in developing countries. The ‘box’ is a frequent topic of conversation although, as viewers, we usually seem to have little to show for the hours that we spend in front of it. Television is also a significant industry in its own right and is a major advertising medium in most countries.

For these reasons, television has always attracted a lot of ‘punditry’. Debates rage about whether it is a waste of time; about whether it has to be run in the way that it is or if it might be organized better; about its coverage of sex, violence, profanity, politics, and social issues; about its stereotyping of ...

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