• 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.

Watching Television
Watching television

In most industrialized countries television is in more than 95 percent of homes. Most households now have color television, and many have two sets or more – 50 percent in Britain for instance, and over 60 percent in the USA, making an average of almost one set per person there. Even in developing countries, where television is a luxury, ownership is rapidly growing: in 1984 Brazil already had a set for every six inhabitants, while the Ivory Coast in Africa had one set for every twenty.

People who have access to a television set generally use it a great deal. In most countries they are in a room with a television on for between 10 and 25 hours per week. In the USA, ...

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