• 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.

Television as a Medium
Television as a medium

In this chapter we ask what television is like as a medium of communication. In particular what do the various patterns of people's viewing behavior tell us about it? If most viewing is done with rather low involvement, is there then a contradiction with the vast amount of time that people spend watching each week? We also try to understand better the characteristics of the medium by seeing how they compare with those of radio, the print media, and also manufactured products. Finally we ask to what degree television gives us the programs that we want.

A Low Involvement Model

People mainly use television to relax with and be entertained. We do not want to spend 25 hours per week ...

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