• 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.

How we Pay
How we pay

There are three basic ways in which television is funded: (i) directly by the viewer by means of license fees or subscriptions; (ii) out of general taxes; (iii) from the sale of advertising airtime. Some countries use just one of these methods but many now use a combination. The dominant factor is that the cost per viewer is always very low.

A Few Pennies

The cost of watching an hour's television works out at only a few cents per viewer because of the vast size of most television audiences. This is regardless of how the programs are funded and yet the method of payment can influence the range and quality of the programs that are provided.

A major factor is the size of ...

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