Television Studies

Essay by esgee17B, June 2009

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Since the start of the twenty-first century, 'television studies' has had to respond to changes in the medium of television. This essay introduces the study of television, discusses the nature of television's advent till the 1970's and uses major trends in television viewing to exemplify the changes that the academic study of television has had to adapt to. This essay provides evidence towards John Farnsworth claim "writing about television in the twenty first century, is to write about a medium in a constant state of upheaval."The past twenty-five years, particularly in the English-speaking western world, has seen the emergence of a "field of inquiry" called television studies (Allen and Hill 2). The time-period when television studies actually began as an academic field is largely ambiguous. As Bignell argues, television studies, is a "new, dynamic and rapidly changing field of work" (1). Broadly speaking, the study of television occurs through four main areas of activity, namely - production, distribution, textual analysis and reception (Farnsworth 123-125).

It can be said that production is a "phase within which different dynamics of television meet" (Corner 70). It essentially refers to all the groups and people involved in the making of the programme. In addition to this production "looks at questions of ownership and control" with regards to television networks (Farnsworth 123). Distribution, in television refers to, the scheduling of programs on a particular television network (Farnsworth 123). Farnsworth reasons that distribution plays an important role in determining "the relationship between advertisers, audiences, programme makers and networks" as well as maintaining "broadcasting standards" and controlling which material is made available to what audiences (123). Textual analysis also plays an important role in the study of television. It examines the use of images and narratives that are shown on screen and the representations that they carry,