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Reader Report Session 1 Jostein Gripsrud: Emerging Media Article Television, Broadcasting, Flow: Key Metaphors in TV Theory Key

aspects of the text: Gripsrud states that television is more a metaphor compared to its literal meaning. However one should encounter metaphors with suspicion because by only regarding it as a metaphor facts could be left out. Regarding the televisions as a metaphor, this does not mention the complex system operating behind the visual images. Furthermore, this implies that all television is the same and that there are no distinctive differences. According to Gripsrud metaphors refer to comparison and are the fundaments of establishing what Thomas S. Kuhn defined as paradigms1. A dictionary defines television according to its technical features. However, television has some of the same features as a newspaper, the same distribution broadcasting as radio and shares subject matters with books and magazines. These features do not refer to the technical use, but more to the social use of technology. It is important to focus on the notion of simultaneity in broadcast television. The first television was a form of live transmitted visual images and later on, in the 1950s, also recorded video images occurred. The notion of television shifted from being live to pre-recorded. Nowadays2 television is pre-recorded and aired via a video tape of the broadcaster. This creates the illusion of what people watch is taking place at the same time they watch it. This illusion is defined as liveness and is a key aesthetic value of television. However, as soon as technical problems with the aired video arise, this illusion vanishes. Opposed to Bertolt Brechts notion of estrangement, the showing of the construction of television such as cables and the cameras underlines the effect of reality. Immediacy of liveness are more notions of effects, rather than facts experienced by viewers and constructed by producers. Liveness is equal to reality and important for shows like the news. This liveness is a distinctive feature of television compared to other media and is a fundament to the television as ideological apparatus. Liveness appears to be equal to truth and realism and it preserves the position of television as trustworthy. However, John Caldwell warns that television is more about style than outside and thus real events like sports. Therefore considering television as live or real can establish the overestimation of the latter which implies the neglect of other modes of televisions practice or production. This raises the question whether television is the correct definition of the medium. A closer look is needed to the metaphor of broadcasting. This can be defined as sowing broadly and planned growth in the widest

universally recognized scientific achievements that for a time provide model problems and solutions to a community of practitioners. Kuhn, Thomas in: The Television Studies Book. Ed. christine Geraghty and David Lusted. London, 1995: p.17. 2 Nowadays refers to the end of the 20th century.

possible circles. In the late 19th century there were several prognoses about devices that could transmit images and sounds from a central place to private homes. Furthermore, in the beginning of the 20th century devices were developed that could transmit and receive signals which implied a two-way communication system. The technology relied on the same technology use for telephones and radios. This indicates the development of a counter television compared to the one-way system we know nowadays. If one compares these two systems one can conclude that both had distinct different practices of social usage of the two television systems. However in the 1930s television was primarily a medium for theatrical exhibition and a potential competitor for the film industry. The television as one-way system was launched in 1936 to approximately 300 homes. Within three years this expanded to 20.000 television sets. Television was experienced as a public viewing, meaning that in in 1937 over 100 public viewing rooms were known in the U.K. In Germany the Nazi government supported the development of television. Television was mostly watched in public viewing rooms, because the government thought that propaganda worked most effectively when watched together. Ultimately, when manufacturers could reduce the price of a television set, one saw opportunities for mass sales of television sets for domestic usage. The working-class society expanded their financial standards since the 1920. This lead to the notion of the domestic home being equipped with entertainment devices such as the television. Another economic interest was to inform people on a mass scale via media like the television. A political or ideological interest in informing people was conducted by the usage of television as a self-sufficient unit in terms of entertainment and cultural experiences which implied an political and ideological control. However, television also established some forms of democracy because broadcasting lead to equal access to information. In the U.S.A the broadcasting system was more commercial compared to the public system in Europe. In the U.S.A many products were sold through the airing of soap operas. Here audience were addresses as consumers. The public system carried the notion of television being accessible for the whole society and governmental control established the creation of educational goals and information for the whole society. Here the audience was more addresses as citizens instead of consumers. Advertisements were possible in the public system, but they were under strict control. Raymond Williams defined the experience of watching television as a flow, were sequences are organized to complete the central experience. This implied the experience of watching television as whole instead of watching a program and furthermore many find television hard to switch off. However, according to Gripsrud Williams is contradicting himself. People talk about a specific show, and not about their whole television experience. Moreover, people can also watch the flow from a distance instead of participating in it and is defined as glance. Several scholars tried to grasp the political and social notion of television. These theories all

indicate television as a stream of audio-visual signs with the promotion of consumption. Gripsrud defines these theories as an American tendency and is inclines more towards the European vision of Ellis, whom focusses on the different programming categories. However US formats, styles and ideas about television appear to be dominant compared to the rest of the world.