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ERIC Number: ED186974
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1980-Apr
Reference Count: 0
Commercial Network Television: Strategies for Programming and the Content of Prime Time TV, 1976-1979.
Austin, Bruce A.
The 1976-79 schedules of the three major television networks were analyzed to determine what strategies were used to organize prime time schedules and what types of programs appeared during prime time viewing periods. Five essential programing strategies were identified: fraction of selection (cost versus reward), lowest common denominator (wide audience appeal), least objectionable program (compared to other programs on at the same time), program continuity (the nightly "flow" of a network's programing), and counterprograming (providing different program content from the other networks). The homogeneity of prime time content was demonstrated both quantitatively and qualitatively for all three years. The same four program types (comedy, crime drama, drama, and movie) accounted for more than 75% of the prime time menu for all three years. The data clearly indicated an absence of choice for the television audience. Whereas imitation is profitable for the network, the outcome for the viewer is redundant banality. The bulk of television content, then, is popular in the sense of mass viewership; yet there are few really viable alternatives within the structure of that content. The technological innovations and other programing systems that are now developing may provide television viewers a wider selection of program material. (RL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Popular Culture Association (10th, Detroit, MI, April 16-19, 1980). Not available in paper copy due to marginal legibility of original document.