You are on page 1of 3

Course: Emerging Media, Broadcasting

Student: Vera Schoonbrood

Student number: 3785793

Reader report Session 2 Jane Feuer, The Concept of Live Television: Ontology as Ideology The Concept of Live Television: Ontology as Ideology Key issues text: Jane Feuer is concerned with the question what the entity of television is. She start pointing out towards the debate whether television is on the one side a thing itself that practices signs or on the other side merely a means of transmission and theref ore conducts other processes of signification. Feuer reconsiders what specific qualities define televisions essence, which is a significantly different medium compared to cinema. Feuer states that it is difficult to determine the aesthetic essence of television and refers to Herbert Zettl, who defines this essence by referring to televisions technological processes (viz. movement, process liveness and presence). However, according to Feuer Zettl does not acknowledge that the achieved realism via this perspective is based on artifice. She claims that Zettl lacks insights into this essence by equalising live television with real life. Feuer derives her ontological perspective from the live element of television and claims that this live aesthetic in itself is at the base of its philosophical assumptions. Hence, the perception of live by consumers is more the ideology of television and Zettl confuses this with televisions ontology. Stephen Heath and Gillian Skirrow proclaim the same similarity of televisions ontology and ideology regarding the its live element. However, their assumptions derive from another perspective. Heath and Skirrow claim that, because of televisions electronic nature it is possible to affirm the mode of television. Here they are referring to the capability of television to constitute similarity between the time of events and the time of broadcasting. Whereas television as a institution creating a sort of identification of all messages that are transmitted by the television are perceived as live. Consequently, by the ideological position of the apparatus, consumers are placed into a position where they imagine their presence regarding the time (and thus live) of television. This leads to the perception/ feeling of immediacy of live television. The term live itself is very ambiguous, which leads to several different connotations of the term. This can be confounding compared to the denotative meaning which is based on technical aspects. It is necessary to reconsider the opposed meaning of live television and real time, especially since this ideological liveness of television still exist in an age where television programs are broadcasted via recorded tapes. The latter is determined by the intertwinement of film, video and live and therefore the live time is even more complex. Subsequently, Feuer refers to Raymond Williams concept of flow. On the one hand this refers to the technological flow that consist of sequences that are

Course: Emerging Media, Broadcasting

Student: Vera Schoonbrood

Student number: 3785793

impossible to separate because programs and advertisements are interlaced. On the other hand this concept refers to the experience of the audience, because the TV set is part of the daily life and always available. Therefore it becomes an ordinary experience and is perceived as natural. In my own opinion this latter perception of flow is based on an older experience. Nowadays, a lot of consumers have more insight into the functioning of televisions broadcasting. Furthermore, there are more options for channels, which creates an increasing number of niche audience and more options to turn to. The latter implies more choice and thus the flow is in fact not inescapable anymore. Feuer argues that the technological flow is wrongly interpret by Williams himself. Instead of segments that are impossible to separate and analyse, Feuer states that the segmentation has no closure. Here Feuer is referring to the never ending process of broadcasting segments, whereas Williams refers to the segments themselves instead of its appearance and process. According to Feuer, television exploits the diverse connotation of live regarding the broadcasting processes and schemes. However, Feuer claims that television should profit more from televisions capacity instantaneous and unmediated transmission. The program GOOD MORNING, AMERICA is the embodiment of liveness, according to Feuer. Not only because they broadcast a diverse content, but also because the liveness is intertwined with several elements such as: their logo, the anchor who frequently indicates the time and he indicates the upcoming segment with time. David Hartman, the anchor, is the personification of a force which creates unity regarding the broadcasted segments. In the last part of the text the ideology of a program is compared to its mode of address. The latter can be defined as a striving for unification regarding the televisions flow and it represses contradictions to allow a plurality of content to disguise a singularity of representation. Feuer is debating whether the mode of address remains unclear to the audience, which implies that the ideology of liveness of a program is not an effect but more general ideological stance towards the medium itself. In my point of view this article is dated. I agree that the ideology of liveness is hard to determine, however the broadcasting system has changed. The control has shifted from the broadcaster to the viewer, because of an overkill on content and programs and the fragmentation of the audience. Furthermore, viewers have become participants regarding the widespread fan cultures of specific programs. Indeed, programs and broadcasters have certainly an ideology in mind when distributing their programs. However, I question whether this ideology is still the ideology of liveness. The latter is more a possible element of televisions ontology, and emphasizing that it is a possibility. Nowadays the choice for programs and broadcasters in endless, and all try to distinguish oneself to attract viewers. In my point of view the ideological emphasise has altered towards target audiences and their needs. It is impossible for broadcasters to attract all viewers and

Course: Emerging Media, Broadcasting

Student: Vera Schoonbrood

Student number: 3785793

therefore they target a specific race, gender, age etc. Viewers are more aware of televisions illusion of liveness, and therefore it is not a necessity anymore. In my point of view the ideology of a program is displayed by its target audience needs. Broadcasters utilize social media and the internet to distribute their ideology on a broader scale to remain in control. This results in a balance between viewers and broadcasters, and the ideology has become the mediator. One can accept it, but there is always the possibility of rejecting it and that results in a game of opposing stances.