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SMST21606B Television


Concepts such as codes and conventions, narrative, genre and schedule ... Gender eg Desperate Housewives (identity through attachments to males) Ideology (6) ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: SMST21606B Television

SMST216-06B Television
  • Week 31 (August 2)
  • Ways of Studying Television Genre, Schedule
    revisited, Political Economy, Ideology

Explaining the terms
  • Concepts such as codes and conventions,
    narrative, genre and schedule are, most often
    applied to the content (texts) of television, to
    explain how they construct meaning.
  • Concepts such as political economy, ideology and
    postmodernity are more usually applied to the
    context (wider social and political meanings and
    purposes) of television.
  • Nevertheless, there is considerable application
    of these concepts in both circumstances.
  • OHT the construction of meaning

To date
  • The concepts we have encountered so far can be
    regarded as the stepping stones or building
    blocks towards the construction and analysis of
    content and meaning ie
  • signs --- codes and conventions ---
  • narrative

The next two steps
  • or building blocks are
  • genre
  • and
  • schedule

Genre (1)
  • Television genres are groupings of categories
    whereby programmes are defined, produced and
    placed in the schedule (the timetable of
    television). Examples of TV genres include soap
    opera/serial sitcoms news current affairs
    sport lifestyle childrens youth adverts etc.
  • Some genres are now very broad, as a consequence
    of programme diversity and genre hybridisation
    (examples of cross-genre or mixed genre) eg
    reality TV, dramedy

Genre (2)
  • The television industry uses the term to
    categorise and identify the various parts of its
    programming mix. Audiences use it to identify and
    choose their viewing preferences It is a
    particularly tidy way of describing the mess and
    muddle which characterises television
    programming, across the multitude of channels and
    hours upon hours of programming. Lealand
    Martin, 59

  • all television programs can be classified
    according to type every program is a distinct
    work, but it is also a kind of program. The most
    common genres are commercials, news programs,
    situation comedies, soap operas. documentaries,
    sports shows, talk shows In principle, there
    may be a finite number of genres and each
    television show should fit into only one of them
    if the classification system works perfectly. In
    practice, however, there are mixed genres,
    combinations of kinds of programs, that
    complicate matters enormously nevertheless
    genres are systems of meaning and significance.
    Arthur Asa Berger Genre chives/etv/G/htmlG/genre/genre.htm

Schedule (1)
  • the television industry utilises genre
    classification as a shorthand means of scheduling
    television is also primarily organised around
    time-slotsthe television schedule is the
    running order in which programmes are placed
    during a day also weekly and seasonally
  • Casey et al (2002), 203-204

Schedule (2)
  • Predictability is important, as one of the core
    aims of scheduling is to assist broadcasters in
    capturing the biggest audience possible, thus
    maximising advertising revenues. The careful
    scheduling of programmes in particular slots may
    also allow a broadcaster to win viewers away from
    other television channels. As a result,
    scheduling has become increasingly important as
    an aspect of competitive ratings wars. (Casey
    et al, 203-204)
  • Thus, until recently, we had three competing
    personality-led current affairs programmes on NZ
    television in the 7pm time-slot (Holmes, Closeup
    _at_ 7, Campbell Live)

Schedule (3)
  • Television schedules are governed by a number of
  • Symbiotic relationships between audiences and
    schedules ie people watch television in greatest
    numbers at certain times (eg primetime, Sunday
    Monday nights) the most popular programmes are
    placed in these time-slots
  • The schedule is divided into pre-determined time
    zones eg day time (or off-peak), childrens,
    prime-time, late night
  • The watershed (8.30pm in NZ) determines what
    genres (eg crime drama) and content cannot be
    shown before this time
  • Television viewing is seasonal, echoing both the
    structure of the year (winter, summer holidays),
    as well as the seasonal patterns of television
    viewing (ie production blocks of 13 or 26 weeks
    of imported programmes). NZ experiences seasonal
    quirks (eg Christmas themes screening in July)

Schedule (4)
  • Scheduling is often based around models of family
    behaviour, as well as assumptions about gendered
    viewing (eg the belief that women watch TV around
    early evening demands men tend to watch later in
    the evening)
  • Television in NZ displays some unique scheduling
    traits eg stripped timeslot for early evening
    serial drama (Shortland Street) womens sport
    (netball) in primetime pay TV drama on FTA (The
    Sopranos Six Feet Under)
  • Audience fragmentation and new technology (VCR,
    TiVO) provides serious challenges to traditional
    scheduling practices (eg time-shifting)

Political Economy (1)
  • see Lealand Martin, 80-91
  • An approach to the study of television which
    focuses on its economic and institutional
    characteristics, investigates patterns of
    ownership, revenue sources (especially the role
    of advertising and commercialism), and
    technological change.

Political Economy (2)
  • The majority of political economy approaches to
    television adopt critical (political)
    perspectives, examining the medium within
    frameworks of Marxist/cultural theory, and the
    role of television in economic and political life
    of nations, and globally eg how ownership of
    television channels can influence editorial
    content how commercial imperatives (the need to
    maximise profits) can encourage the exclusion of
    controversy, or diversity of opinions, or
    domination of distribution
  • See Who Owns What, Columbia Journalism Review
  • Example News Corporation

Political Economy (3)
  • Political economy perspectives concentrate on
  • The accelerating trend towards deregulation and
    commercialisation of television--the expanding
    commercial sector vs the shrinking public service
    television sector
  • The globalisation of television production and
    distribution (the role of giant media
  • The expansion of new media forms and channels
    (eg attempts by commercial interests to control
    the internet)

Ideology (1)
  • see Lealand Martin, 49-53
  • The study of the ideological content and
    consequences (effects) of television is closely
    aligned to political economy approaches, in the
    emphasis on the connections between economic
    factors and ideological outcomes.

Ideology (2)
  • Television is perfect ideology slips through its
    channels surreptitiously Television appears
    as a perfectly natural representation of
    reality a window on the world televisions
    images and sounds seem so natural because its
    messages are coded in a very familiar framework
  • (Ellis Cashmore (1994) and there was television)

Ideology (3)
  • Commercial culture aka television does not
    manufacture ideology it relays and reproduces
    and processes and packages and focuses ideology
    that is constantly arising both from social
    elites and from active social groups and
    movements as well as within media organisations
    and practices .
  • (Todd Gitlin, Primetime ideology,1994)

Ideology (4)
  • The presence and impact of ideological messages
    on television are a site of contestation or
    dispute eg
  • John Fiske refers to the (Level 3) ideological
    codes (familiar, socially acceptable codes) of
    individualism, race and class, power

Ideology (5)
  • Certainly, we can see many such codes and
    messages reproduced and replicated on television
  • individualism Because youre worth it
  • Power relationships The Apprentice, Survivor
    (survival of the fittest models of capitalism)
    assumptions of law and order
  • Gender eg Desperate Housewives (identity through
    attachments to males)

Ideology (6)
  • But, given televisions need to reach very large
    and very large audiences--as well as its role in
    reflecting and.shaping social change--it also
    provides many spaces for conflicting ideological
  • eg sexual orientation (the normalisation of gay
    relationships on Shortland Street) critiques of
    business failures interrogation of government
    policy.. or social norms (Eating Media Lunch)

Ideology (7)
  • Because of this fluidity, the ideological
    nature of television (overt and/or covert)
    attracts critics from all quarters eg
  • Right-wing critics criticise it for being too
    liberal or left-wing
  • Left-wing critics criticise it for being in the
    pocket of business, or vested interests
  • Social conservatives criticise it for loosening
    moral or for its challenge to family values (eg
    Destiny Church)
  • Social progressives criticise it for being too
    timid or conservative