• 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.

Choosing Different Programs
Choosing different programs

Someone who views television for 20 or 30 hours in the course of a week will typically watch at least 30 or 40 programs. Even though some programs are very popular and seen by many, the particular combination of programs that we choose differs from person to person. In the USA with three large and highly competitive networks and several other channels also available in most homes, few programs attract more than a third of those viewing at the time. Even in Britain, the most popular programs attract only about half of those watching television at that time; the other half is divided among the less popular programs on the other three channels. Except for major events such as American ...

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