Film and TV Studies

Essay by beckypaxtonUniversity, Master's April 2004

download word file, 12 pages 4.0 1 reviews

American and British television comedy are both rooted from the same history. In general, situation comedy is based on the same principles. So why does American television often seem more universal than British sitcoms when both rely heavily on stereotyped representations of social class?

American television comedy has a universal approach because of its mass appeal. It has three networks supplying many different sitcoms geared towards people of all races, sexuality and age. Therefore American television has many varieties of sitcoms to view, with more programming and offers to supply many different types of audiences.

Television in America is beyond broadcasting. Broadcasting is a general term given to supplying viewers with very broad programming. These programs would be suitable to mass audiences in order for networks to receive the largest amount of viewers. "Narrowcasting" came into effect when audiences demanded more from television. This is also the time when VCRs were introduced and it was possible to view programs at your own leisure.

Now that TiVO and ReplayTV and other PVRs are available to audiences, viewers are experiencing "slivercasting." Slivercasting is the ability to watch what you choose, when you choose to watch it. To put this into terms, broadcasting would be a television show that would appeal to a mass audience. Narrowcasting would be a sports network, geared towards sports fans. An example of a type of slivercasting would be a golf channel, segmenting audiences interested primarily in golf.

With these specialized viewing techniques, Americans are demanding more from television. However, British television is nearly impossible to pigeonhole. Eminently capacious, it has increasingly been open to multiple goals, forces and programming approaches. It has responded to new demands more often by accretion and absorption than by re-direction. Though shot through with public service principles, these have periodically been returned...