• 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 Different Episodes
Watching different episodes

We have just seen that the audience composition of most television programs is much the same, although different individuals choose different programs. But how regularly do people watch the successive episodes of a particular program? To what extent is it the same viewers each week?

This question is relevant because most television programming in all parts of the world consists of series with episodes screened at regular intervals, e.g. weekly or daily. Even movies are often scheduled into serieslike slots, such as The NBC Monday Movie, starting at fixed hours and edited to standard running times. Public affairs and sports coverage is similarly tailored for regularity and uniform lengths. This is especially true in countries such as the USA, where television ...

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