| September 2009 | english and media centre
Conventionally, media texts have beenconsidered as standalone products. This approachhas become less valid in the past few years asmedia producers and media audiences have takenadvantage of new technologies to help promotemedia products (producers) or extend their usesand gratifications of a text (audiences). This changein approach to media texts has been developingslowly over several decades and the rise in
to media texts is an importantaspect of our studies.At the heart of multi-platform media are
changesand developments in technology.
As technologieschange they offer different ways for audiences toaccess texts; and so institutions change the waythey make and promote their products.Consider the cinematic film. At one point, theonly way to see a film was to go to the cinema.Films were released and shown in cinemas until theaudience numbers declined and from that pointon, it was virtually impossible to access the filmagain. As television became a more widespreadtechnology, deals were made whereby filmscould be shown on TV. There was usually a longwait for films to make it to television and withparticularly popular films this move from oneplatform to another was often a very big event.During the 1970s and into the 1980s, the BBC andITV would compete to show the biggest and mostpopular film on Christmas day. This was oftenthe first opportunity for some audiences to view‘blockbuster’ films, if they had been too young atthe time of cinema release or had simply missed thefilm at the cinema.In the 1980s two technologies changedaudiences’ ability to access films: video and satellitetelevision.
• Video allowed audiences to rent feature filmsto watch whenever was convenient and VCRsprovided an opportunity to tape and keep filmsshown on TV (and TV programmes too).• At first film companies were concerned videowould have a negative impact on their business,reducing cinema attendance; so initially onlyold, low budget or minority interest films werereleased on this format. This led to a glut of cheaphorrors and a moral panic about ‘video nasties’as video was, at first, outside any certification orlegislation.• As the technology became more widespreadHollywood realised its financial potential.Blockbuster films were made available to rentand, later, to buy – often with additional footagesuch as a ‘making of’ documentary to encouragepeople to purchase the film rather than wait andtape it from the TV.• Video made television fiction marketable.• From the mid-90s, some TV companies realisedthat cult programmes (such as
) had an audience that would be preparedto pay to own their favourite series and video boxsets were introduced.
Satellite (and later, cable) television
• Satellite television charged viewers a fee andthus could negotiate deals with film companieswhich allowed them to show feature filmssooner than on terrestrial TV and so filmsmoved from cinema to TV more quickly.• As there is more ‘space’ on non-terrestrialtelevision, so more channels could be madeavailable – some of which are dedicated solelyto broadcasting films.
More recent developments
• DVD technology again broadened the marketfor home purchases. Again, in order to competewith video, DVDs offered a host of ‘extras’ –behind the scenes footage, commentaries,
the impact of technology
Media Products are now accessedthrough a network of platforms andsources.
explainshow new technologies have changedthe ways we consume and studymedia texts.