• 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.

The New Channels
The new channels

In the early 1980s it became fashionable to talk of the Third Age of Broadcasting – first Radio, then Television, and now perhaps many more ways of distributing video and electronic text services to viewers. A ‘video revolution’ was heralded: mass television audiences would fragment because each viewer could choose just what he or she wanted to watch. What has happened so far in practice?

There have been four main developments, each potentially adding to viewers' choice by removing different constraints. The first is that many households in many countries now have two or more television sets, including portables and even miniature ‘watchmen’. This can free people from having to watch the programs chosen by other family members and from having ...

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