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PONTIFICAL GREGORIAN UNIVERSITY
FACULTY OF SOCIAL SCIENCES

TELEVISION AND THE FAMILY FROM FOES TO FRIENDS
Submitted to the Faculty of Social Sciences in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Licentiate in Social Sciences with specialization in Social Communication.

STUDENT

BERNICE AGYEKWENA

MODERATOR

PROFESSOR JACOB SRAMPICKAL

ROME JUNE 2005

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TO MY ENTIRE FAMILY AND THE CATHOLIC ARCHDIOCESE OF TAMALE, GHANA

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I wish to record my sincerest gratitude to Professor Jacob Srampickal for patiently guiding me to write this research. His suggestions influenced the structure as well the contents of the study. I also wish to acknowledge that my decision to do a research on the effects of television was inspired by his course on Media Education, one of several courses he teaches at the Gregorian University. I extend my gratitude to Rev. Fr. Robert White for providing me with a bibliography, which proved very useful in the cause of my research. I remain indebted to him for the role he played in my admission to the Gregorian University. To Rev. Fr. Thaddeus Kuusah, Rev. Fr. Christopher Bazanaah, Monsignor Blaise Zupour and the Most Rev. Gregory Kpiembaya, Archbishop of Tamale, I wish to record my gratitude for the various roles they played in my coming to Rome and my subsequent enrollment at the University. To the members of my study group, namely, Fr. Peter Sutinga, Fr. John Mary Busobozi, Fr. Philip Odii and my beloved cousin Clement Minyila, I wish to say “ayekoo” for the assistance and moral support they gave me in the cause of my study. Without them, I could not have made it this far. To Emmanuel Ogbonnia, I wish to say thank you for helping me to edit and format my tesina.

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Without a good social life, my stay in Rome would have been very boring. Several people contributed to making life in Rome interesting for me among whom are: Al Dogar, the good Samaritan , Philomena Dovi, Harriet Nnamutebi, the symbol of humility and perseverance, Fr. Peter Lopez, and Fr. Dominic Adeiza, for their sense of humor and ability to see the funny side of life, and Chika Asogwa and Ikenna Ugwu for being such great friends.

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Table of contents ........................................................................................................................ 1 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .......................................................................... 3 CHAPTER I .................................................................................................. 7
1.1 INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................... 7 1.1.1 Presenting the Problem.................................................................................. 7 1.1.2 Is the media then a foe or a friend? .............................................................. 11 1.1.3 The Family Today ....................................................................................... 15 1.1.4 Theories and Perspectives of the Family ...................................................... 17 1.5 SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF MODERN FAMILIES TODAY ........................ 26 1.5.1 Nuclear families dominate ................................................................................... 27 1.1.2 Kids world, with kids relating to other kids rather than parents .................... 27 1.1.3 Secularization.............................................................................................. 29 1.6 MEDIA AFFLUENCE ........................................................................................... 31 2.1.1 Stages of television use and ownership ............................................................. 41 2.1.2 Family communication patterns and television viewing .................................... 42 2.1.3 Television’s messages on sex ........................................................................... 46 2.1.4 How television undermines persistence ............................................................ 48 2.1.5 Television literacy and education ..................................................................... 51 2.1.6 Televised violence and advertisements ............................................................. 56 2.1.7 Racial and sexual stereotypes on television. ..................................................... 60 2.1.8 Television soap operas in family life ................................................................ 65 2.1.9 Television as a tool of imperialism ................................................................... 71

CHAPTER III ............................................................................................. 75
3.1 EXAMINATION OF CONTENTS OF TELEVISION IN RELATION TO THE FAMILY ...................................................................................................................... 75 3.1.1 News and Sports for men ................................................................................. 75 3.1.2 Televised sports ............................................................................................... 80 3.1.3 Children’s experience with television ............................................................... 85 3.1.4 Impact of television on the reading skills of children ........................................ 90 3.1.5 Soap Operas for Women .................................................................................. 92 3.1.6 Music (MTV) for the Youth. .......................................................................... 101 3.2 HOW FAMILIES UTILIZE THE CONTENTS OF TELEVISION ....................... 111 3.3 IS VIEWING TELEVISION A PASSIVE ACTIVITY? ....................................... 113 3.3.1 Challenge: ...................................................................................................... 114 3.3.2 Concentration: ............................................................................................... 115 3.3.3 Activation: ..................................................................................................... 116 3.3.4 Affect: ........................................................................................................... 117 3.3.5 Relaxation: ..................................................................................................... 118

CHAPTER IV............................................................................................ 120
4.1 AN EXAMINATION OF MEDIA THEORIES IN RELATION TO THE FAMILY ................................................................................................................................... 120 4.1.1 The passive or linear theoretical models. ........................................................ 120 4.1.2 The magic bullet theory.................................................................................. 121 4.1.3 The hypodermic needle theory ....................................................................... 121

6 4.1.4 Lazersfeld’s two step or multiple steps flow theory ........................................ 123 4.1.5 Festinger and the Consistency Theories .......................................................... 123 4.1.6 McCoombs and Shaw Agenda Setting Theory................................................ 124 4.1.7 Knowledge Gaps Theory................................................................................ 129 4.1.8 Stephenson’s Play Theory .............................................................................. 130 4.1.9 The Ritual Model of Communication ............................................................. 131 4.1.10 The Behavioral Theories .............................................................................. 133 4.1.11 The Social Learning Theory ......................................................................... 134 4.2 TELEVISION AND SOCIAL LEARNING .......................................................... 139 4.2.1 Interactions Between Televised Violence, the Family and Society ..................... 140 4.2.1.1 Pre-observation Reinforcement ................................................................... 141 4.2.1.2 Vicarious Reinforcement ............................................................................. 141 4.2.1.3 Post-observation Reinforcement .................................................................. 141 4.2.1.3 Self-generated Reinforcements .................................................................... 142 4.3 CRITICIMS OF SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY ................................................ 143 4.4 THE STALAGMITE THEORIES......................................................................... 145 4.4.1 Cultivation theory .......................................................................................... 145 4.5 CULTIVATION THEORY AND THE FAMILY ................................................. 149 4.6 THE USES AND GRATIFICATION THEORY AND HOW IT RELATES TO THE FAMILY .................................................................................................................... 150 4.6.1 Informational needs ....................................................................................... 151 4.6.2 Need for personal identity .............................................................................. 152 4.6.3 Need for social integration and interaction ..................................................... 152 4.6.4 Entertainment................................................................................................. 153 4.7 SOCIAL USES OF TELEVISION........................................................................ 154 4.7.1 Structural Uses ............................................................................................... 154 4.8 USES AND GRATIFICATIONS FROM SOAP OPERAS ................................... 156 4.8.1 Uses and Gratifications from Television Quiz Programs .................................... 157 4.8.2 Criticisms of Uses and Gratification Theory....................................................... 158

CHAPTER V ............................................................................................. 160
5.1 DRAWING CONCLUSIONS............................................................................... 160 5.1.1 How do Soap Operas Affect Women? ............................................................ 160 5.1.2 How do Media Models Impact on the Youth? ................................................ 166 5.1.3 Children and cartoons .................................................................................... 167 5.2 A LOOK AT GHANA IN RELATION TO TELEVISION. .................................. 169 5.2.2 Why Ghana Television was established .......................................................... 171 5.2.3 Programs on Ghana television ........................................................................ 171 5.3 HOW DOES TELEVISION VIEWING IMPACT ON GHANAIAN FAMILIES? 173 5.3.1 How Do Television Programs Impact on Ghanaians........................................... 174 5.3.1.1 Television Impact in Respect of Language .................................................. 175 5.3.1.2 Television Impact in Terms of Program Content ......................................... 176 5.4 HOW TELEVISION IN GHANA CAN BE IMPROVED ..................................... 179 5.5 WHAT SHOULD BE DONE TO HELP THE GHANAIAN AUDIENCE TO BENEFIT FROM TELEVISION? .............................................................................. 181 5.6 THE WAY FORWARD ....................................................................................... 182

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY................................................................ 184

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CHAPTER I
1.1 INTRODUCTION 1.1.1 Presenting the Problem Most households today spend lots of money on burglar proof devices to keep the home safe for the family, especially for their children, in order to protect the family from danger. But does danger, threat to life and burglary, come only in the form of the physical; through dangerous armed robbers and gunmen. Is it not possible that a danger of a non-physical nature could seep through the entire burglarproof devices, threatening the security of the home and turning it into chaos? The media today represents an unseen burglar, who is welcomed into homes, especially via television and video and silently steals the most precious of all human assets; values and virtues, and replaces them with media produced counterfeits. Available statistics indicate that, all over the world, over 3.5 billion hours are spent daily by people watching television (Kubey, Csikszentmihalyi, 1990:1) which absorbs 40 per cent of all leisure time and is the most time consuming home activity (Kubey, Csikszentmihalyi, 1990:71). A report, dubbed the 1984 Nielsen Report, claims television is in use for 7 hours a day in the typical American home where persons older than 2 years watch television for an average of 4 hours a day (Bryant, Zillmann, 1986:19). In addition, 75 percent of America’s population relies on television for the majority of its information while 40 percent of American homes do not possess books of any kind (Costanzo, 1994:108).

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It has also been revealed that on the average, Britons spend 3 hours a day watching television but only 17 minutes reading the newspapers and a mere 11 minutes reading books. Britons also go on line for just 7 minutes on the average a day (http://news.bbc.co.uk, 1, 2005). In achieving this, this silent burglar stealthily presents media produced representations of life as reality in a way that makes it impossible for the untrained viewer and mind to read in between the lines and arrive at a true judgment of what is being presented. But how does the media and television especially, achieve this? This is because television combines the visual and the aural, and the eye and the ear are both active during television viewing (Downing, Mohammadi, SrebernyMohammadi, 1995:35). Further more “with its small screen, talking head format, and interior settings, television combines the looming proximity of film with the constraining space of the theatre” (Taylor, 1989:18). Consequently, television lends itself to the intimacy of character and relationship as well as the intimacy of domestic life (Taylor, 1989:19). Of the three forms of persuasive proof identified by Aristotle, namely, logos, ethos and pathos, televised material are normally richly endowed with ethos and pathos. According to Aristotle, logos, the use of evidence in rational argument, ethos, the use of personal characteristics to claim credibility and authority and pathos, the use of emotion such as hatred to move people, constitute the main forms of persuasive language (Downing, Mohammadi, Sreberny-Mohammadi, 1995:27). Television, as a form of secondary orality, brings back the power of ethos that was lost by the printed word through the credibility and credentials

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of media figures such as newscasters whose greatest asset is their ability to win the trust of the audience. In addition, techniques in the presentation of images such as the use of close up shots that allow the audience to see the emotions of people on television, coupled with the use of music that stirs up these emotions, whip up the power of pathos in the audience in a way that is almost identical to their being part of the scenes being screened to them. This is why one of the greatest strengths of television lies in its ability to render the audience a feeling of participation; as if they actually witnessed what has been screened to them. Experiments in this regard indicate that, “audiences confronted with simultaneous projection on a large screen and on a television set regularly prefer and overwhelmingly end up preferring the image on the smaller set. The attraction of reality is somehow there” (Cater & Adler, 1975: 27). Hence, there is sometimes a kind of bonding between audiences and media figures such as actors, musicians, talk show hosts, newscasters, national politicians, and even foreign leaders (Downing, Mohammadi, SrebernyMohammadi, 1990:42) as a result of the power of ethos and pathos emitted by these figures through television. These relationships established with electronic friends and figures may compete, interact or influence real life relationships with family members, friends, co-workers and other people encountered in life. Television, however, undermines the power of logos and herein lies the danger. The development of rational understanding of issues and their analysis is sacrificed for rapid and fragmented bits of information. The reflection stimulated by abstract conceptual language that produces intellectuals is

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replaced by vivid and selective images that produce celebrities and televangelists. In one experiment, when the normal viewing time for six-year olds was cut down, it caused a shit from a more impulsive to a more reflective intellectual style and produced increases in non-verbal IQ (Greenfield, 1984:6). Television seems to increase the resistance of viewers to mental discipline by tuning their minds away from an exegesis that moves serially from point to point, the elucidation of the terms of an argument and the careful analysis of chains of inference. Hence, television tends to cultivate and predispose the mind of viewers to dialectics, rather than logic or exegesis (Cater & Adler, 1975: 22). In another development, when a ‘couch potato’ was asked by a reporter to comment on a two-way cable system that will allow viewers to talk back to television, he said, “Why watch T.V. if you have to think and respond? As far as I’m concerned, the main point of watching T.V is that it lets you avoid having to do that. If you are going to respond to T.V, you might as well go out and cultivate friendships or read a book” (Greenfield, 1984:1) Obviously, some viewers, who actively use television as an escape from thinking, have realized this limitation of television in ‘logos’! Added to this is the fact that, although television carries an overwhelming amount of information and images, they are not the democratic representation of reality where everybody gets to contribute on a level ground but are tilted towards the ideas, views, economic and political aspirations of their owners.

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1.1.2 Is the media then a foe or a friend? In so far as people fail to understand the media and fail to read the subtleness of its productions, the media can be a foe. One can fall victim to the spread of the ideology of the dominant class through the media and become a passive consumer of the products of a foreign culture rather than ones culture. One can also develop feelings of inferiority or superiority based on presentations that have racist, ethnic or religious undertones on television. An example of this is the stereotyping of African Americans on radio, which shares secondary orality with television, in the 1920’s and 1930’s that portrayed African Americans as having no education and unintelligent. The radio serials were meant to serve a number of purposes in that epoch during which African Americans did not have the vote. Naturally, what White Americans derived from this program was that African Americans were uneducated and unintelligent and giving them the vote or decent jobs was an injustice to democracy and White Americans (Downing, Mohammadi, Sreberny-Mohammadi, 1995:355). This kind of message, of course, served only to enforce the status quo at that time but in the light of today’s evidence, it has been proved to be a fallacy. But how many White Americans knew it was a fallacy at the time the program was being heard! This debate as to whether television is beneficial to the family or not seems to be a re-echo of the concerns expressed by the Greek and Roman philosophers about the function of entertainment which still remains unresolved after 2,300 years. Whilst Aristotle was of the view that drama (which is analogous to films on television) had a cathartic function, Plato condemned the theatre for arousing passion and undermining the state, much the same way some condemn television today (Buckingham, 1996:95).

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Writing in the ‘Republic’, Plato said, “Then shall we simply allow our children to listen to any story anyone happens to make up, and so receive into their minds ideas often the very opposite of those we shall think they ought to have when they are grown up?” (Kubey, Csikszentmihalyi, 1990:16). In his criticism of the horror genre, which can be traced back to representations of the underworld in the dramatic poetry of his age, Plato admonished his people, saying, the “thrill of terror” induced by stories on ghosts and corpses could lead to moral weakness (Buckingham, 1996:95). Similarly, Cicero criticized the Roman theatres for their excesses, much like how television is criticized for its excesses, saying, “If we are forced, at every hour, to watch or listen to horrible events, this constant stream of ghastly impression will deprive even the most delicate among us of all respect for humanity” (Kubey, Csikszentmihalyi, 1990:16). So, should television as an art form, be banned from the family, just as the church abolished the Roman theatre as an art form in the fifth century because it was so debased by commercial exploitation that it had lost its relevance to the good of society? (ibid). Already, some people think so. In Britain, some anti-TV campaigners are advocating for this. One group, called “White Dot”, has been running a “Turnoff TV Week” for eleven years during which time the group urges Britons to turn off their sets for at least one week. During this year’s campaign which begun on May 25, its spokesman, David Burke, said, “White Dot is against TV at a fundamental level” (http://news.bbc.co.uk/ 2005:1). He said “the whole base model of TV depends on average viewing time of three to four hours a day. That’s a huge commitment of time when you consider we work eight hours, sleep eight hours; you give half of the rest of your day to television” (ibid).

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Mr. Burke said apart from stealing precious time from viewers, television also contributes to obesity and has been linked to attention deficit disorder (http://news.bbc.co.uk/ 2005:2). Further more, after the National Institute of Mental Health in the United States had reviewed over 2,500 studies on the impact of television on human behavior, it came to the conclusion that television was a major socializing agent on American children that had a non-trivial influence on how people think and feel about the world around them (Swan, Meskill, DeMaio, 1998:1). But television has also made some positive contributions to society by demonstrating an exceptional ability to challenge parochialism and unfold the interdependence of the world community for all to see. Hence, notwithstanding some of the negative impacts outlined above, television does have benefits, but the family can realize these benefits only if it attains television literacy. Once one has acquired the skills of understanding media productions and what they stand for and has the ability to distinguish what is real from what is unreal, then the media can be a friend. In view of the fact that the strength of television rests on ‘ethos’ and ‘pathos’ but its weakness lies in logos, it follows that, any attempt to reap desired benefits from television should be based on addressing its deficiency in ‘logos’. This can be achieved by equipping television audiences with skills that will enable them to interact actively with the contents of television rather than passive viewing as was exemplified by the ‘couch potato’ who was interviewed by a reporter. Such skills, which range from understanding the symbolic codes of television that constitute the technical aspects of its language (Greenfield, 1984:9) to knowing the ideologies, the cultural and political economy

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dictating its organization and control of contents will go a long way to make audiences television literate. For the benefits of television can only be realized by those who have learnt to recognize its fallacies, to separate the ‘grains from the chaff’ and to use the grains to feed and enrich their own lives. This then is the purpose of this scientific study, which is aimed at a critical examination of television in order to provide families with an antidote against its defects so that they may use it for the benefit of all members of the family. Television today represents a wild fire that needs to be tamed. And as the old adage goes, “fire is a good servant but a bad master”. Hence, discovering the means of making television to serve the needs of the family and society at large rather than allowing it to dominate is the scope of this scientific dissertation.

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1.1.3 The Family Today 1.1.3.1 What is a family? Since the family constitutes the subject matter under examination in its relationship to television, there is the need for a critical examination of what is meant by family, it’s historical, cultural, sociological, economic and political evolution and the role that the media have played in defining its place and evolution in society. Simplistically, the family is regarded as the smallest and basic unit of any society. It is both the foundation and the building blocks upon which and with which society is built.

1.1.3.2 What are the functions of the family? Basically, the family is the cradle for socialization where human beings are nurtured and prepared for roles in society. It also aids the survival of individuals by providing warmth and protection from the onslaughts of society. The family thus performs a duel role; it prepares an individual to live in society and at the same time protects that individual from that same society. In preparing an individual to live in society, the family equips him with skills for surviving in the world. These skills are not only economic and political, which are achieved through training and education but also sociopsychological which is achieved mainly through parental nurturing that satisfies the emotional and psychological needs of the individual. To achieve this, the family serves as a point of relation where individuals learn how to relate to members of the family, to love and be loved and subsequently import these skills to relate to other individuals outside the family.

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It is thus the love that individuals acquire within the family that they express in the outside world. Consequently, cold families produce cold societies and warm families produce warm societies and communities. This is because families, as the building blocks of society tend to lend their color and characteristics to society. It is for this reason that the well being of the family is very important since it is crucial to the formation of healthy societies. When families cease to function well and fail in their socialization of children and individuals and become ‘cancerous’, they produce ‘cancerous’ societies.

1.1.3.3 Structure of the Family

The structure of the family within a particular society depends on the kind of marriage systems operating in that society. A family based on the monogamous marriage system is one in which only one man and one woman live together in biological and economic reciprocity. In a family system based on polyandry, one man is married to more than one woman at the same time. In a marriage system based on polygamy, one woman is married to several men at the same time. Monogamous marriages tend to be the norm in western societies and societies that have developed along a strong Christian tradition whilst polygamous marriages exist mainly in Africa and societies with strong roots in Islam. One can also talk about the nuclear family and the extended family. Nuclear families tend to be based on monogamous marriages, which consist exclusively of the married couple and their children. Extended families can be based on monogamous and polygamous relationships. The distinguishing factor is that extended families include vertical generational extensions to

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include grandparents and great grandparents and horizontal extensions to include aunties, uncles, grand aunties, grand uncles, first, second and third cousins, nieces and nephews. A recent development is the creation of gay and lesbian families by the promulgation of laws in some parts of the world that allow men in gay relationships and women in lesbian relationships to get married.

1.1.4 Theories and Perspectives of the Family Over the years, sociologists have made several attempts to trace how the family came to be in existence and what roles it plays in society. These perspectives are used not only to describe and explain the functions of the family but they also serve as a basis for a critical analysis of the family. These include the Judeo-Christian view of the family, the functionalist view, the African View, the Marxist view, Feminist view, views based on Communication theory, the theory of Post-modernism and the

Capitalist/Historical view of the family.

1.1.4.1 Judeo –Christian theory of the family The Judeo-Christian theory of the family originates from the Biblical story of creation. According to this story, which occurs in the book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, man was the last creature to be created by God. However, man was lonely because there was no suitable companion for him so God created woman, called Eve, out of one of his ribs to be a companion for him (Jerusalem Bible, 1990:6). According to this legend, it is for this reason that a man leaves his family in search of a woman with whom to spend the rest of his life. God also

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commanded all his creatures to be fruitful and multiply. Hence, seen from a Judeo-Christian perspective, the family was created out of the need for love, warmth and companionship and also as a cradle for the regeneration of the human race. The family can also be regarded as a basic unit for instruction from this perspective when one considers the book of Numbers in which God commands the Jews to instruct their children, saying, ‘Teach them to your children and keep on telling them when you are sitting at home, when you are out and about, when you are lying down and when you are standing up. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates…” (Jerusalem Bible, 1990:174). This view of the family from a spiritual perspective is further enhanced by Biblical passages that compare the Church to a bride of Christ and the call on men to love their wives as they would their own flesh (Jerusalem Bible, 1990:1401). Whilst the Judeo-Christian view of the family perceives it as a divinely ordained institution established by God to meet the emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual needs of adults and children alike, other theories and perspectives consider the family as a purely human institution.

1.1.4.2 The African perspective During the African Synod, the family was given a prominent emphasis judging its importance in African society. The Ecclesia in Africa points out that, “The future of the world and of the Church passes through the family”. Not only is the Christian family the first of the living ecclesial community, it is also the fundamental cell of society. In Africa in particular, the family is the

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foundation on which the social edifice is built. This is why the Synod considered the evangelization of the African family a major priority, with the view of evangelization of the family through the family. The encyclical enjoins, “the holy family is the prototype and example for all Christian families and the model and spiritual source for every Christian family” (John Paul II, 1995:81). The human family is constituted of man, woman and children. In most cultures in Africa, the family is not closed to the first generation but stretches the ties of kinship to members of the extended family. In God’s plan, the conjugal community is established upon the consent of the spouses. Marriage and family are ordered to the good of the spouses and to the procreation and education of children. The man and woman united in marriage, together with their children form a family. This institution is prior to any recognition by public authority, which has an obligation to recognize it. In creating man and woman, God instituted the human family and endowed it with its fundamental constitution. Its members are persons equal in dignity. (The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994: 2201). John Paul II speaking of the family as a communion of persons, points out that in matrimony and in the family, a complex of interpersonal relationships is set up within married life. These include fatherhood and motherhood, filiation and fraternity, through which each human person is introduced into the human family and into the family of God, which is the Church.”(John Paul II, 1981:15). The family is the original cell of social life. It is the natural society in which husband and wife are called to give themselves in love and in the gift of life. Authority, stability and a life of relationships within the family constitute the foundations of freedom, security and fraternity within society. The family

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is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honour God and make good use of freedom. Family life is an initiation into life in society. (The Catechism of the Catholic Church :2207). In the African context, the concept of the human family is loaded with much greater meaning than just a man, wife and a child. Man is born into his immediate family and to a larger family; the extended family and the society.

1.1.4.3 Functionalist theory of the family Viewed from a functionalist perspective, the family is considered as a component of the social system, which helps to ensure the economic, political, social and cultural survival of society (Lull, 1988:13). It does this by bearing and nurturing children who are socialized to take up future roles in society. The family thus, apart from ensuring the continuation of lineages, also provides financial and emotional support for its members whilst maintaining their morale and motivation. According to the functionalist theory, the family above all provides the prototype for power relations within the larger political relationships of any society. Patriarchal families therefore result in a society with patriarchal political relationships.

1.1.4.4 The Marxist theory of the family Under this theory, the family is seen as an institution that reinforces the existing status quo in a given society (Lull, 1988:14). It does this by preparing young people to partake in class- based work roles that serve the interest of those in control of economic power. From this perspective, the family is seen as a human system that undermines its own interest by unconsciously reproducing the economic structures of domination in the society. This is

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accomplished by socializing the youth to compete for under-paid jobs. At the same time, the very structure of the family reinforces the boss-worker relationships at the work place, which is modeled after the power relations between husband and wife.

1.1.4.5 The Feminist Theory The feminist theory sees the power relations between the male and female sexes in the family as a factor that produces and sustains patriarchy in societies where power and control are vested in the male members and females are dominated (Lull, 1988:14). The gender differentiated roles assigned to boys and girls within the family are designed to oppress women, which is reproduced in the dominant ideology of the society. According to this theory, efforts should be made to rescue women from a history of oppression and discrimination perpetuated by the family through awareness and consciousness raising.

1.1.4.6 The Communication theory of the family The communication theory of the family considers the depth or dearth of interpersonal communication within the family as an indicator of its emotional health (Lull, 1988:15). This may in turn produce individuals who may exhibit emotionally healthy or unhealthy personalities. From this theory, the emotional health of individual family members depends on how well they are allowed to communicate their needs, their affections and frustrations. In a family with a strong depth in interpersonal communication, individual members are free and encouraged to express their needs, affections

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and frustrations, which results in warm personalities who are emotionally balanced and outgoing. However, in a family where there is a dearth of interpersonal communication, each individual is locked up and fails to communicate his needs, affections and frustrations. This in turn leads to emotional problems that then need to be resolved by experts to liberate their personalities.

1.1.4.7 The Post-Modern View of the family The media forms the pivot of the post –modern view of the family, which is seen as producing a chaotic informational environment that offers broad based information without distinguishing between age, gender and authority (Lull, 1988:15). The mass media, and especially television, makes everyone privy to the same information, blurring the private communication domains that once lent structure to society. It does not demarcate the world of adults from the world of children, men from women, politicians from the electorate. The muting of differences between the different ages, sexes and social status has led to a harrowing social change. This blending of traditional expectations with the impersonal media world produces a neurosis that is characterized by confusion, and debilitation that is experienced at the familial level.

1.1.4.8 The Capitalist/ Historical View of the Family The Capitalist/ Historical view of the family attempts to analyze the structure and functions of the family in relation to prevailing economic structures. According to this perspective, the structure of the family during each historical epoch is influenced by the dominant economic system. Hence,

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one can talk of pre-capitalist or Bourgeois family systems, family systems under entrepreneurial capitalism and family systems under advanced capitalism in its corporate state (Luke, 1989:98). From the capitalist/ historical perspective of the family, the domestic order of the family that prevailed under the Bourgeois family system was transformed with the onset of entrepreneurial capitalism under which industrialization flourished. Multiple nuclear households were created out of the looser extended kinship family systems of pre-capitalist society (Luke, 1989:103). Material production was also split between its socialized forms of commodity production and private labor performed in the households. According to this view of the family, there is an existing tension today between the ideology of the traditional nuclear family that was instrumental in the development of capitalism in its entrepreneurial stage and the emergence of the utopian permissive individual who is needed for the consolidation of advanced capitalism in its corporate phase (Luke, 1989:98). The nuclear family consisting of mother, father and children living together harmoniously legitimized entrepreneurial capital. This is because, the nuclear family, apart from its image as a haven for workers in the heartless world of industrialization provided a secure ideology that defined the productive role of family members (ibid). Successful industrialization brought in its wake urbanization and secularization but capitalism needs to redefine the family in order to advance to the corporate order which will require more people to spend more on material goods and services. In a bid to pave the way for the emergence of corporate capitalism in capitalist societies, the private sphere of the family was fused with public administration. This enabled the state and the firm to regulate individuals

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through the media, mass education and professional experts who prescribe rules for normal behavior and the needs of the family and society at large (Luke, 1989:101). Individuals in society then attempt to counter code, subvert or to re-function under these prescribed needs and behaviors. These prescribed needs and behaviors is perhaps more evident in the area of fashion where fashion experts, aided by television tell society what is fashionable at a particular point in time. This results in individuals cladding themselves in these prescribed ‘temporary uniforms’ until the fashion experts once again prescribe the next one. The firm and the state thrive on these needs that are extended to the individual since they fuel economic growth and provide the economic force that will guarantee the development of the state corporate system (ibid).

1.1.4.8.1 How the corporate family system was developed As the traditional nuclear family accepted the needs defined for it by the corporate capitalist system, the organic need for air, drink, food, clothing, shelter and affection which were the preserve of the family underwent commercial redefinition as the commodified need for buying air conditioners, coca-cola, wonder bread, coats, etcetera (Luke, 1989:107). All individuals in the family, now as consumers, are transformed into capital assets since their consummative mobilization boosts the productivity, profitability and the power of corporate capital intensive industries which is expressed as a rise in Gross national product (G.N.P.) (Luke1989: 108). Hence, each individual family member becomes an integral part of the means of production and the family unit is transformed into a service delivery system of the modern corporate state.

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In addition, by encouraging families to concentrate on the accumulation of material things and the pursuit of pleasure, a disincentive was placed on the raising of large costly families. The purpose of sexuality shifted from familial procreation to personal recreation. Consequently, by gearing the family towards the cultivation of passive consumption, social dependence, cultural submission, and the so-called emancipation of personal needs, corporate capitalism evolved the regulatory apparatus for managing personal and family life (Luke, 1989:115).

1.1.4.8.2 The role of television in the development of corporate capitalist families Since the planned productivity of the corporate capitalist economy requires more and more consumers to which it can sell the needs that it creates for them, the family as a unit has proved to be a limitation (Luke, 1989:100). In order to fuel its growth, the corporate capitalist system proposes new values, norms, and practices that do not favor a single-family unit but glorifies in its disintegration. Television provides a key role in the dissemination of these values by producing images that legitimize the split up of the nuclear family into several components Hence, “broadcasting outlets give capitalist ideologues a tool of incalculable power to promote and expand support for the prevailing belief system” (Altschull, 1984:135). This implies that, “television neither simply creates nor reflects images, opinions and beliefs. Rather, it is an integral aspect of a dynamic process. Institutional needs and objectives influence the creation and distribution of

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mass-produced messages which create, fit into, exploit, and sustain the needs, values and ideologies of mass publics. These publics, in turn, acquire distinct identities as publics partly through the ongoing flow of messages” (Bryant, Zillmann, 1986:23). Television is thus a home appliance that can be used to sell other appliances. Through its episodic series, television manages to sell “an image of desirable family life with consumption casually woven into the fabric of its stories” (Taylor, 1989:20). But who are the people behind the scenes of every television output, who wield so much control over the lives of viewers? They are invisible business moguls who derive both profit and influence from their ownership of television channels. “In television, genre is an explicit industrial category organized in the service of efficiency and rationalization of a commercial product” (Taylor, 1989:19). History has revealed that at each epoch in history, a selected group of men and women dominate and control society. Human history has moved from the era of the philosopher kings of Plato’s dreams through the traditional religious and aristocratic authorities of oral culture to the intellectual and political activists of print and halted at the electronic period, which is the epoch of the Hollywood celebrity and entertainer and the televangelist.

1.5 SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF MODERN FAMILIES TODAY In spite of the numerous theories enumerated above, today’s families tend to share certain characteristics that lend themselves to scrutiny. Generally, nuclear families tend to dominate and are considered the norm which results in most kids being left out on their own since the burden of

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parenting is sometimes overbearing for parents in nuclear families. The secularization of society means that most families are secular in orientation and tend to exhibit some degree of media affluence.

1.5.1 Nuclear families dominate Industrialization as a result of the development of technology over the last two hundred years has resulted in the modernization of society, which has affected the structure, and functions of the family. The migration of people to urban areas to seek employment in factories and the gradual loss of traditional economic activities that sustained traditional family life to industrialization has resulted in a preference for and a dominance of the nuclear family even in societies where extended families had been prevalent for centuries. An example of this phenomenon is Africa where nuclear families are beginning to emerge in the cities and towns. In addition, most of the socializing roles of families have been taken over by formal school systems with the media threatening to take over whatever has been left for the family.

1.1.2 Kids world, with kids relating to other kids rather than parents The breakdown of the extended family system where baby sitter roles were assigned to grandparents, cousins, aunties, uncles and other relatives has resulted in increased emotional and physical pressure on parents to raise up their children alone without the emotional and physical assistance normally found in extended family systems. In some families, this baby sitter role that used to be performed by members of the extended family has been shifted to television.

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Coupled with this is the high cost of living in urban communities compelling both parents to seek jobs outside the house in order to meet the financial needs of the family. In addition, the education of women with some of them working in highly specialized fields and demands that women contribute their quota to society have produced a situation where kids are normally left on their own. Added to these is the growing desire of woman to be financially independent and their search for emotional and psychological fulfillment in jobs outside the home. In Britain, only 13.8 percent of families have a mother staying at home full time (Lull, 1988:22) whilst “the American family has continued to develop along a path marked by increased parental absence from the home and a diminishing family performance” (Douglas, 2003:134). This trend derives from an ideology that places personal ambition and achievement over and above family life and family relations that has the tendency to erode the ability of parents to provide their children with the attention, care and support that they need. Modern society has responded to this tendency for modern couples to leave their children alone at tender ages by the establishment of crèches designed to provide care and support for the child whilst the parents are away working. But most of these crèches are designed with a profit orientation hence few adult hands take care of several children. The result is that children relate more to each other than to the adults who are supposed to provide them with emotional support. Children above crèche level normally spend time after school huddled with other children in the neighbor hood whilst they wait for their parents to return from work. Hence, on the average, kids relate more to each other than they do to adults, including their own parents.

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These kids normally undergo a “latch-key” experience that has been blamed for child-related problems such as teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, depression, and falling grades at school. In fact, it has resulted in the demise of the traditional family and the emergence of the “scattered family” (ibid). Most child psychologists have decried this trend and called on parents to spend more time with their children. The response on the part of some parents has been that it is not the amount of time spent with children that is important but the quality of the time spent with children.

1.1.3 Secularization Secularization remains one of the key characteristics of modern families. This is in part due to the achievements made by science over the years, which has allowed mankind to solve problems in all fields of life. In medicine, the cure of formally incurable diseases like leprosy, which was considered a curse by God and several others such as tuberculosis and the discovery of vaccines to protect man from certain diseases once deemed killer diseases, has diffused the fear that people once had for God and for religion. With other remarkable achievements in agriculture as a result of genetic engineering and mankind’s conquest of space using space ships and satellites, society has come to rely more on science for the solution of everyday problems than on religion. What is more, with the ability of scientists to effect sex changes in people, the creation of test tube babies, the ability to change one’s looks by plastic surgery and the recent ability to successfully clone living organisms, mankind has won its independence from religion and science is now the religion of the modern world.

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This shift from religion to science has been given evidence by the elimination of religion from the school syllabus of most countries. Apparently, most governments and parents do not want their children to waste their time on a religion that has failed to help them solve their problems in the past. The result is that, the guidance and sense of belonging as well as the psychological well being rooted in religion and the reverence for God that was available to children and parents in the past to help them meet life’s challenges is no longer available today. Still absent is the lack of a system of values by which parents and children can decide on what is of value and what must be discarded. In the midst of this vacuum created by the absence of religion, the media becomes the reference point for values, which people choose to assimilate. The media, especially television easily takes over the role of religion in this vacuum because “If one agrees that religion is a statement about life and tackles the ultimate meaning of life, then television is religion. Television seeks to define our world, to tell us how it works and what it really means” (Soukup, 1996:138). Like religion, the task of television is “to read the signs of the times”: it mediates meaning and offers an alternative reading to life (Soukup, 1996:139). Thus, rather than being a neutral communication medium, television is an integrated symbolic world of myths that suggest a consistent value system. Some of the myths and values central to television are: the fittest survive; happiness consists of limitless material acquisition; property, wealth and power are more important than people; everything can be purchased to satisfy our narcissism and immediate gratifications and progress is an inherent good (Fore, 1987:64-67).

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Furthermore, the television viewer normally finds himself becoming an unconscious partner to behavioral patterns prescribed by television which are very effective because they employ the symbols of culture, religion and myth and easily sink into the psyche and subconscious mind (Soukup, 1996:140).

1.6 MEDIA AFFLUENCE Today’s world can best be described as a media affluent society where the experiences of people are shaped by widely shared instantaneous mass communication, especially via television. Since the invention of the Gutenberg printing press in 1453, which allowed the Bible to be printed and consequently led to the mass production of books, newspapers, magazines and other print literature, the development of ever new technologies has enabled the world to advance in mass communication (Savarimuthu, CP2032: 2004). In 1837, Samuel Morse invented the telegraph; Bell invented the telephone in 1876 and Marconi the radio in 1894. Cinema (devoid of sound) was invented in 1896 and in 1927 cinema, which combined moving pictures with audio was invented (ibid). In 1936, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) begun television broadcast followed by the United States in 1940. Between 1947 to 1952, up to 15 million people in the United States viewed television and the coronation of Queen Elisabeth was viewed by three million people in the United Kingdom (ibid). In Japan, the marriage of the Emperor was broadcast to one million people in 1958, making television the preferred mass medium, with adult Japanese watching more than three hours of television a day by 1960 (ibid). When the 1964 Olympic games were broadcast in Japan, the popularity of television soared (Ibid).

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A recent development in the history of television is the commercial sale of digital television in 2004. Digital or high –definition television is designed to enhance its picture quality. Whilst television sets in the United States offer a 525-line picture, digital television provides 1,125 lines and a more realistic 5.3 screen aspect ration instead of the current 4.3 (Downing, Mohammadi, Sreberny-Mhammadi, 1995:288). Digital television is designed to produce much clearer images with better color and a greater depth that makes the shape of faces on television more real thus enhancing the power of ethos and pathos. Today, with the development of cable and satellite television backed by a network of sophisticated computer and telecommunication hardware, instantaneous broadcasting of news from one country to places far beyond has been made possible paving the way for television companies such as CNN and BBC to extend their coverage to most parts of the globe. It is for this reason that MacLuhan labeled the world a global village, since the media offers people all over the world the opportunity to hear and view the same information at the same time. The preference of television amongst the paraphernalia of mass communication gadgets available today is illustrated by the following table based on a research of school children in the United Kingdom to determine which media is available to them in the home. The table, which shows that television ownership is the highest amongst all media used by the school children irrespective of age, gender and social class, proves that television has emerged as the most preferred medium today.

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Table 1.1 Percentage of children with media in their home by gender, age and social.grade.(Livingstone,2002:37).

1.7 THE MEDIA AND THE FAMILY What then is the role of the media in the family today? The media plays a duel role. It can be viewed as being analogous to the first fires where primitive men gathered to recount the day’s events and to listen to stories about heroes (Martinez-De-Toda, 2000:57). The primitive fireplace served as a point for leisure and socializing for primitive man where entertainment and history where brought together. Based on this analogous relationship between television and the first fires of primitive man, television today takes the place of these fires and serves as a point of socialization where stories of the day (news), stories of

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heroes (feature films depicting Hollywood celebrities) and entertainment (sports, music) are provided for the family that gathers round the television set. This is borne out of the fact that watching television today takes the largest part of the time spent by adults at home. The table below illustrates this:

Table 1.2 ( Kubey, Csikszentmihalyi, 1990:70) Adults use of time. Activity by environment Work Working Socializing, eating, other Total Home Watching television Cooking Cleaning Eating Snacking, drinking, smoking Reading Talking Grooming 6.6 2.4 3.4 2.3 .9 2.7 2.2 3.1 27.5 14.8 42.3 % Of signals

Hobbies; repairing, sewing, gardening 3.7 Other chores Idling, resting 3.0 4.0

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Other, miscellaneous Total Public, other’s homes Leisure and other activities Shopping Transportation Total

5.8 40.1

8.8 3.1 5.7 17.6

From the above table, which is based on a week’s study between 8 a.m and 10 p.m, 40.1 percent of time is spent at home whilst 42.3 percent is spent at work. Television viewing accounts for 6.6 percent of primary activity, which is not only the single most time consuming activity but also the dominant leisure activity that consumes 40 percent of all leisure time. Television also serves as an accompaniment and background to most household activities today. Such activities range from talking, eating, grooming, and childcare to even reading, which some people may claim to be incompatible with viewing television. This underlines the structural uses of television as propounded by the theory on the “Social Uses of Television”. The following table illustrates this.

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Table 1.3 (Kubey, Csikszentmihalyi, 1990:77

Also, television has become a predominant preoccupation for most people who deliberately expose themselves to it as a means of leisure and relaxation. Television viewing thus exceeds most traditional leisure activities as illustrated by the following table:

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Table 1.4 (Kubey, Csikzentmihalyi, 1990:79) Reasons for Doing Seven Major Home Activities (Percentage of responses) Television Reading Eating Cooking Chores Talking Grooming Had to 4.4 3.7 94.1 17.6 96.3 55.6 80.9 64.4 59.6 11.2 95.2 52.8 75.7

Wanted 90.2 to Nothing 19.0 else to do 113.6

10.3

5.4

7.8

4.2

13.2

2.5

108.9

119.3

144.3

128.2

119.6

131.0

From the above table, 90.2 percent of respondents in the study watched television because they wanted to which shows that people are highly motivated to watch television. Also, the highest amount of respondents, 19.0, said they watched television when they had nothing else to do, suggesting that, television is the most preferred means for killing time out of the seven activities studied. The second role of the media is borne out of its function as a tool of modern commerce. Herbert J. Altschull, a communication researcher, has hinted that “It is in the distribution of goods –intellectual as well as material goods- that the media’s position in the American system- as in all capitalist systems is central” (Altschull 1984:123). Here, the media serves as an arm of capitalism by fanning market forces that seek to promote consumerism. He said “whereas from its earliest days the press had been a factor in the

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economic well being of the United States, by the twentieth century, it had become an ever more essential ingredient in the capitalist economy” (ibid). Consequently, the media projects image packages that legitimize the fragmentation of traditional family life. These fragmented bits of the nuclear family then evolve into new family units thus multiplying their consummative potential. Hence, broken households are the norm rather than the exception on television and the single, the separated, the widowed and the divorced (SSWD’s) are depicted as living in their own world of happiness, liberation and professional achievement. Thus, the ideological apparatus promotes norms, values and practices that do not help to forestall the internal collapse of one unit of consumption; the nuclear family. Besides, just as market forces determine our access to novels and films, with those likely to make a profit being published or produced, access to television programming is based on an economic exchange that is very subtle. In return to being provided with television programs, viewers become commodities that are sold to advertisers for money. Television thus transforms viewers into units of economic exchange (Allen, 1985:45). Les Brown, a veteran television journalist described this situation by saying; “in day to day commerce, television is not so much interested in the business of communications as in the business of delivering people to advertisers. People are the merchandise not the shows. The shows are merely the bait. The consumer, whom the custodians of the medium are pledged to serve, is in fact served up” (ibid). This view is supported by Ien Ang who claims that “the very corporate foundation of commercial television rests on the idea of delivering audiences to advertisers; that is, economically speaking, television programming is first and foremost a vehicle to attract audiences for the real messages transmitted

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by television: the advertising spots inserted within and between the programs” (Silverstone, Hirsch, 1992:132). In other words, television is more of a business delivery service, rather than a box for providing entertainment and news as most viewers have come to accept. The consumption of television products takes on a double meaning; it not only delvers programs but cultivates consumers. Hence, “the day to day practice of television consumption is accompanied by the implicit and explicit promotion of ideal or proper forms of consumer behavior, propelled by either ideological or economic motives and instigated by the social institutions responsible for television production and transmission” (Silverstone, Hirsch, 1992: 133). Television, thus, serves as a national or international market place where it assists in the distribution of both intellectual and material goods though advertisements. Hence, families as audiences, are sold to advertisers by television for profit.

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CHAPTER II 2.1 WHAT OTHER STUDIES SAY

Fears that television may be responsible not only for the alienation of family members but also for significant changes in the traditional family set up itself have been voiced by many writers. Writing in the book, “Behind and in front of the screen, Television’s involvement with family life,” Barrie Gunter and Michael Svennevig have expressed similar views. They said “It is certainly true that there have been significant changes in the types of families and household units over the last 25 years, but whether these can be reasonably linked to the growth of television during that period is a highly problematic assumption” (Gunter, Svennevig, 1987:2). According to these two writers, television is linked to the family at two levels; both in front off and behind the screen. The relationship that families have with television in front of the screen is as a result of the domestication of the medium, which has become a family member in most cases. It may disrupt bonds between family members by curtailing conversation merely by its presence. Behind the screen, families form an important part of the plots of some programs whilst in others they may play peripheral role. However, most portrayals of the family on television have been criticized as being inadequate whilst giving the family a negative picture by not showing happy intact families on the screens (Gunter, Svennevig, 1987:2, 5).

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2.1.1 Stages of television use and ownership Using a review of the research carried out by Bogart (1958) on the impact of television on American social life, three stages of television use were identified (Gunter, Svennewig, 1987:7). Under the first stage, known as the Tavern stage, television is viewed as a public spectacle and makes its appearance mainly in public places such as bars, restaurants and waiting rooms of several institutions. Private ownership of the set at this stage is very low. The second stage, the pioneer stage, is the initial stage of the domestication of television which became a status symbol for families, with families owning television sets being placed on a higher social scale. At this stage, television-owning families experience an expansion of their social life since most people visit their homes specifically for the purpose of viewing television. Under the third stage, the mature phase, television ceases to be a novelty, as was the case with the second stage and becomes a taken for granted appliance in the family. It assumes a central place in family activities, especially in the evenings when television viewing becomes the dominant activity of most families. Since the beginning of the 1980’s, the third phase has become the norm for most countries, especially industrialized countries such as Western Europe, Japan and North America which exhibit a high degree of media affluence with more than 95 percent of all household owning at least one television set.

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The Tavern and Pioneer stages of television exist in countries where private ownership of the medium is very low.

2.1.2 Family communication patterns and television viewing Gunter and Svennevig also point out that existing communication patterns between parents and children influence the way television is utilized by the family. Hence, patterns of parental control and disciplinary practices socialize children into definitive styles of television viewing. According to these two writers, research by Chaffee and his colleagues (Chaffee, McLeod and Atkin, 1971; Chaffee and Tims, 1976) on the relationship between interpersonal patterns of communication within the family and the development of media use has revealed two main orientations that affect media use. These orientations arise not only as a result of the existence of particular family rules but also as a result of their methods of implementation. The two orientations developed by these researchers were socio-orientation and concept –orientation (Chaffee, McLeod and Wackman, 1973). In a family setting characterized by socio-orientation, the main drive is to establish a harmonious climate amongst family members. Consequently, anger, arguments and other forms of dissension are not tolerated. In families dominated by concept-orientation, self-expression of personal opinion among children is tolerated, even if they are contrary to the views of others and established beliefs. Research also showed family orientations to be correlated to social class, with socio-orientation being more peculiar to working class families and concept –orientation being more common to middle class families. Based on these two orientations, four kinds of families are distinguishable in relation to media use. These are;

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Laissez –faire families: In these kind of families, peer groups and friends have a greater impact on children than parents because parent – child communication is very low. There exists a kind of laxity since neither socio-orientation nor concept –orientation is emphasized in family relations and communication. Protective families: These kind of families over-emphasize socioorientation to the detriment of the development of critical thinking in their children because they are not encouraged to question but to meekly accept the status quo. Consequently, the development of a broad mind is sacrificed in favor of social harmony. Consensual families: Within these type of families, the child is encouraged to question what is going on in the world but at the same time he is discouraged from taking up issues that disturb familial peace. Pluralistic Families: These families tend to emphasize only conceptorientation. Children in these kinds of families are encouraged to question, challenge and explore given norms and values in a way that does no jeopardize harmony in the family. Gunter and Svennevig also stated that available evidence indicates that, within high socio-oriented families, children tend to adopt their parents viewing patterns. In addition, research carried out by McLeod and Brown in 1976 among adolescents showed that there was a relationship between the gratifications that adolescents get from television and the treatment meted out to them by parents. In families where parents employed restrictive punishment in controlling their children, there was a positive correlation with the extent of television viewing. Hence, the more restrictive punishment was meted out to children, the more they viewed television.

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Another study conducted in Sweden showed that low concept and high socio- orientation was linked with heavy television viewing by adolescents. Another study conducted by Lull showed that concept –oriented family members were more likely than socio-oriented family members to have definite activities and attitudes pertaining to television use. Gunter and Svennevig also noted that, the use of videocassette recorders allowed most families to control their use of television by recoding programs and watching them at their own convenience. Writing in the book “Family Television: Cultural Power and Domestic Leisure”, David Morley, was of the view that television does stimulate conversation in domestic and other settings. Quoting Simon Hoggart in “New Society”, he wrote, “What television does furnish is a shared experience which actually increases the amount of conversation. In factories and offices across the land people earnestly debate what they saw on the screen last night…Where once they might have discussed the sales manager’s love life, the weather, or the shortcomings of the head of faculty” (Morley, 1986:20). He said television, especially situation comedies, has contributed to the art of conversation. This is because, far from supplanting family functions, the medium is being adapted to the cultural, psychological and economic needs of families. “Media and domestic communications exist in all manner of symbiotic intertwinings” (Morley, 1986:21). Apart from acting as a catalyst for conversations, Morley also regards television as an antidote to family conflicts since in higher density families it may act to reduce tension leading to conflict by creating personal space and offering privacy to individuals in an overpopulated family environment. Besides, television is utilized in a wide range of social activities such as providing companionship, as a reward or punishment, as a battering agent, a

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boundary marker in families, a mediator, a scapegoat and as a means of scheduling activities (Morley, 1986:23). In a research study involving several families to determine the impact of television on families, he found out that “Masculine power is evident in a number of families as the ultimate determinant on occasions of conflict over viewing choices…” (Morley, 1986:148). He said male dominance in the choice of programs is more obvious in families that own a remote control device since none of the women in his research work used the device regularly. Besides, they usually complain that their husbands obsessively flick from channel to channel when they want to watch a particular program. Thus, men and women tend to offer contrasting versions of their viewing behavior, which is dictated by their differential power to decide on what to view, how much to view, viewing styles and choice of programs (Morley, 1986:147). In a similar study undertaken by James Lull, he found out that “television is employed as an environmental resource in order to create a flow of constant background noise which moves to the foreground when individuals or groups desire (Lull, 1990:35). Writing in “Inside Family Viewing: Ethnographic Research on Television Audiences”, he outlined several social uses of television, comprising both structural and relational uses. Just like Morley, he found out that television does facilitate conversation under certain circumstances. “Television’s characters, stories, and themes are employed by viewers as abundant illustrators which facilitate conversations” (Lull, 1990:37). He said most often children employ television programs and characters as referents to clarify issues in a discussion, and to enter into and become part of adult conversation. Television also reduces discomfort in a conversation when

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it is turned on since it lessens the uneasiness of prolonged eye contact by attracting the attention of viewers during lulls in conversation. Even the material being televised can become a theme for conversation thus dispelling the discomfort associated with having nothing to talk about. According to Lull, television also presents opportunities for viewers to demonstrate competence through the fulfillment of family roles. For instance, the undertaking of a gatekeeping function by a parent; the methodical and authoritative regulation of programs for children confirms his or her role as a good parent. Besides, “successful enactment of the television regulatory function directs media experiences of the children into forms which are consistent with the parents’ moral perspective. Simultaneously, the parent asserts an expected jurisdictional act which confirms proper performance of a particular family role” (Lull, 1990:42).

2.1.3 Television’s messages on sex In the book “Social Learning from Broadcast Television” edited by Karen Swan, Carla Meskill and Steven DeMaio, several writers have written on a wide range of issues that they belief is affected by television viewing. Writing on the topic ‘Television as a Sex Educator’, the author, Rosemarie Truglio, wrote, “Television, through its ‘realistic’ portrayal of consistent and often explicit sexual messages, can be a powerful sex educator, particularly, for viewers with limited experience and countervailing information” She attributed television’s power in this area to the fact that adolescents’ opportunities to observe intimate interpersonal behavior is limited whilst learning from television allows them to avoid the embarrassment of asking questions pertaining to sex.

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Truglio also noted that the vacuum created by the shallowness of parent –child discussions on sex, which are infrequent and limited, give television an edge. In a research on adolescents in 1992, most of them cited the mass media, especially television, in addition to parents and peers as their primary sources of information on sex. Other researches conducted by Louis Harris & Associates, 1987 and E.J. Roberts et al, 1978, indicate that whilst parents may like to be the primary sources of information on sex to their children, they experience fierce competition from mass media’s sexual curriculum. According to Truglio, “The problem of turning to television for sexual information is that it is a constructed reality comprised of idealized and distorted images of sexual behavior”. She noted that on television, sex occurs more often between unmarried than married couples, without consideration of safe sex practices and with low portrayals of the consequences of sex. What is more, young viewers are exposed to approximately 1,400 sexual acts per year, which occur within prime time designed for adult viewers but nonetheless viewed by children. This was based on studies conducted by A. C. Nielson and Greenberg et al. in 1993. It is no wonder then that in American Society where over 98 percent of households own television which is turned on for 7 hours a day, more than a million teenagers get pregnant yearly, 85 percent of which are unintended, whilst over 3 million suffer sexually transmitted diseases every year (Swan, Meskill, Demaio, 1998:9). In the face of the Aids pandemic and rising teenage pregnancies, television has come under pressure to portray the consequences of sex as well as safe sex practices. The only achievement made in this area has been the freedom to mention the ‘condom’ instead of referring to it as a ‘love glove’ or ‘thingamabob’. Messages on the consequences of sex such as Aids, and the

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prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy remain low in relation to the frequency of sex on televised programs. Truglio admitted that though research on the effects of television on the sexual socialization of adolescents remains inadequate while the connections are weak, one cannot dismiss the role of television in this important area of the lives of adolescents. Rather, it is necessary to try to establish the conditions under which adolescents are most vulnerable to incorporating unrealistic sexual behavior depicted on television into their personal lives. She noted that, televisions socializing effect on the sexual behavior of adolescents could be mitigated by parental influence through the provision of adequate countervailing messages. A research in this regard (Peterson et al) revealed that adolescents who viewed television in the company of their parents are less likely to be sexually active. However, solitary viewing of television, without parental guidance, was directly related to sexual experience in boys. These results indicate that television could provide opportunities for sex education by parents if they seize the sex portrayals on televised material as a chance to explain the underlying messages to their children. Hence, television could become a springboard for parents to launch on sex education for their adolescents. They can use positive portrayals of sex to reinforce acceptable sexual behavior and negative portrayals to express their disgust and disapproval.

2.1.4 How television undermines persistence Two other contributors to the same book, Robin Flanagan and John B. Black, writing under the heading, “Television and Persistence” found the medium guilty of reducing viewers’ ability to persist in the face of difficulty. “We are concerned that problems such as persistence may not be a matter of

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poor television programming but may have more to do with the television viewing experience itself” (Swan, Meskill, DeMaio, 1998:45). According to them, viewing television initiates a learning condition under which the learner is passive, and his or her actions have no impact, whatsoever, on the feedback or stimulation that he or she receives. This, they claim, results in behavioral problems that they identified as ‘learned helplessness’, as a result of the lack of contingency between the actions of the viewer and the feedback from television. The book said a study undertaken by Flanagan and Black in 1994 to measure the relationship between television viewing and persistence in children showed that when children begun a session with a passive activity such as viewing video or listening to a story on mathematics, they were significantly less persistent in solving difficult problems in mathematics later on than if they begun their lessons with interactive activities. This finding seems to correlate with that reported in the book ‘Television and the Quality of Life: How Viewing Shapes Everyday Experience’, where the writers report that, “Spending time with television might make concentration more difficult afterward”, (Kubey, Csikszentmihalyi, 1990:123). The writers claim a second study undertaken by Flanagan to determine whether watching television for as little as 15 minutes could affect persistence found out that students who were given a difficult tangram puzzle to solve after a non-mediated session persisted longer with the puzzles than those who attempted working out the puzzles after viewing a video clip. Hence, they concluded, “the mere dissociation between the viewers’ actions and the feedback received may be inducing a form of learned helplessness in the viewer. Learned helplessness therefore begins as soon as the television set is switched on (Swan, Meskill, DeMaio, 1998:54,55).

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In an effort to explain why television may induce a state of learned helplessness, the writers identified fast program pace, which is facilitated by quick action images, sound effects and exciting music, as one of the reasons, which they claim could result in an “inability to tolerate delay in the nontelevision or real world” (Swan, Meskill, DeMaio, 1998:51). Another reason may be that, apart from car chase scenes and some detective stories, television narratives normally eliminate those actions that require effort and persistence. Thus, through omission, television portrays a world in which nothing is difficult to achieve or requires persistence thus instilling this perception in the minds of viewers. For instance, in a program on nature, what has been discovered is shown on television without anything on the weeks, or even years, of tedious search that led to that discovery. This is precisely because; television is a medium that has been designed to keep the messy and boring side of life, such as effort and strain, behind the scenes. Hence, there exists dissociation between results and actions that led to that result on the screen. Flanagan and Black claim that other studies have also established a link between television viewing and restlessness. A five-year study involving 63 children undertaken by Singer et al (1984) indicated that some television programs induced restlessness in children (Swan, Meskill, DeMaio, 1998:47, 48). This corresponds with findings reported in the book ‘Television Viewing and the Quality of life: How viewing Shapes Everyday Experience’ where it was reported that, research findings indicate that the level of relaxation falls after viewing television. “There is no evidence in these analyses to suggest that television viewing offers emotional rewards that extend beyond viewing” (Kubey, Csikszentmihalyi, 1990:127). This is important when considering the long -term effects of Television viewing.

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According to Flanagan and Black, learned helplessness associated with viewing television occurs regardless of its content and “sets up a context in which the feedback, stimulation, and rewards that accrue to the viewer are not contingent on what the viewer does, beyond turning the television set on or off, or turning to a different channel” (Swan, Meskill, DeMaio, 1998:58). In this regard, they claimed it was dangerous to label any viewing experience as educational since viewing television programs or videos labeled as educational are a non-contingent experience just like any other television program. Hence, they stand the danger of facilitating a learned helplessness pattern in children, which may continue through other learning experiences. The writers contend that even though the child may or may not be aware of the non-contingency, “in either case, the learned helplessness pattern should emerge, leading to decreased persistence and decreased exertion of effort.” The child thus forms certain expectations of the future, such as “learning is easy”, or “learning doesn’t take any effort or participation on my part”, or “if it is hard, I will just turn it off or switch the channel” associated with learned helplessness. Flanagan and Black sum up with the view that, “in short, the viewing of videos labeled in some way as educational may set up a learned helplessness disposition regarding one particular class or topic, regarding one kind of learning, regarding one particular day, or end up feeding a longer term learning disposition that relies heavily on watching, judging, switching when bored, and not making any personal effort” (ibid).

2.1.5 Television literacy and education But Greenfield, writing in her book, “Mind and Media”, has an entirely different view. “My own opinion is that the damaging effects the electronic

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media can have on children are not intrinsic in the media but grow out of the ways the media are used” (Greenfield, 1984:2). She contended that, “television watching can become a passive, deadening activity if adults do not guide their children’s viewing and teach children to watch critically and to learn from what they watch” (ibid). According to Greenfield, television can serve as a strong positive tool for learning and development in children if it is used wisely since they provide mental skills to children that are different from those developed by reading and writing. Besides, television conveys certain kinds of information better than the printed word, overcomes the barrier of illiteracy for adults and children alike by providing them with information, which they cannot read for themselves, and provides an alternative to children who do not perform well under the traditional system of learning (ibid). She said because television images are imbued with motion, they are ideal in presenting information about dynamic processes, transformation and spatial information and also suits the mental capabilities of the young child. Elementary school children, for instance, remember actions from a narrated television story better than if the same story were read to them from a picture book because the actions involved are more explicit on television. Greenfield recalled the example of how five and seven-year old Swedish children who watched a film on the process of a tree growing from seed to maturity learned more information than their counterparts who watched a narrated version made up of still pictures. Evidently, it was the movement inherent in the motion film that made the difference to the children’s ability to grasp information.

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She however admits that, without active participation, learning is impossible, “so the passivity encouraged by television must be overcome if television is to be a tool for learning” (Greenfield, 1984: 6). She suggested children should be assisted to know the symbolic code of television since “learning to decode the symbols of film or television is something like learning to read” (Greenfield, 1984:10). She said the symbolic code of television includes visual techniques such as cutting from one shot to another, panning, zooming and auditory techniques such as the use of faceless narrators or canned laughter. These techniques, she said, are symbolic representations that stand for something in the real world. Accordingly, “When a camera zooms in on a detail it communicates a relationship between that detail and its larger context. A simple cut usually means a change of perspective on a given scene. A dissolve (where one shot visually dissolves into another) signifies a change of scene or a change of time. Split screen denotes an act of comparison. The use of a faceless narrator implies that the person narrating has some distance, either physical or psychological, from the scene being portrayed” (ibid). Greenfield said because children fail to interpret the relationships between shots, which carry information about space and time, they fail to grasp the meaning of films. Two successive shots, for instance, indicate a change of scene or two points of view on the same scene whilst dissolves or fades indicate punctuation, providing clues as to how the shots are interconnected. She pointed out that the stage of a child’s development makes a significant impact on his or her ability to read a film. It is only children above the age of seven who can accurately infer the connections among scenes on adult television programs whilst younger children normally regard each shot

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as independent of the others. The skill required to read the interconnections between adult films by children is a process that reaches its maturity by age ten (ibid). Hence, “an understanding of visual techniques cannot be taken for granted, and the use of these techniques affects how well a film will be understood” (Greenfield, 1984:13). Learning to read the symbolic language of television, which Greenfield described as television literacy skills, apart from being dependent on the age and maturity of a child is also greatly influenced by one’s exposure to the medium. Studies indicate that, the more one watches television, the more one learns to decode its messages. Citing an example of a study undertaken by Salomon in Israel, to investigate the impact of “sesame street”, an educational program for children, she said the study revealed that seven to nine-year olds who were heavy viewers of “Sesame Street” did not only excel on tests relating to the program but also excelled in texts to measure skills related to the programs symbolic code of representation. This proves that television literacy is facilitated by exposure to the medium itself. Besides, studies also revealed that the children with the highest television literacy skills also had the highest knowledge of the contents of “Sesame Street”. “Having good literacy skills at one time made it easier for children to learn the programs content at a later time. The opposite effect did not occur, however; learning cognitive content did not influence the later acquisition of television literacy skills” (Greenfield, 1984:17). In another study, lectures in a high school physics class, which used a lot of films to disseminate information, benefited those students who had more experience with films than those with limited experience in film. Apparently,

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the level of television literacy that students bring to it determines the value of film as an instructional tool. According to Greenfield, these experiments prove that, “television literacy, developed partly through exposure to television and partly through development, makes it possible to use television to transmit knowledge and cognitive skills to the young child. The parallel to print is clear: the acquisition of basic literacy skills makes it possible to use print to transmit information and ideas. There is a difference, however: children must be taught to read, but they learn television literacy on their own by simply watching television” (Greenfield, 1984: 17). She said contrary to popular opinion, watching television does present a mental challenge, which unlike reading, can be acquired without special tuition. However, the danger that the complex and varied symbolic codes of television will be processed automatically, without effort, leading to passivity on the part of the viewer cannot be ruled out. Greenfield said whether a television program will be viewed actively or passively depends on the attitudes of viewers towards television or the context of social interaction in which television is viewed. But still other writers strongly debunk the fact that television could become a medium for instruction to children. Writing in the book, “Why viewers watch”, Jib Fowles, claims, “The instructional aspect of television for children, which are the focal point for much adult discussion, count for little with young people. What television means to them is fantasy and more fantasy” (Fowles, 1992:227). He said when children are asked what gratifications they derive from television, they normally point out the fantasy gratifications first which outnumbers any other gratification. Besides, a research carried out by Wilbur

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Schramm also showed that children most often select fantasy programs as their list of favorite programs, which usually outnumber reality programs at a ratio of twenty to one (ibid). Further studies carried out by Schramm and his research team at Stanford University showed that when learning does occur from television, which is a very rare incidence, it is most often “casual and inadvertent on the child’s part. The young person does not think of himself as a student when viewing, and thus, that is not the mode of learning that goes on; what commonly happens is that something of interest comes up in the course of a show and the child will latch onto that one item” (Fowles, 1992: 222). This indicates that whatever learning takes place from television is incidental. Besides, other surveys carried out by Schramm showed that children normally avoid didactic programs and thus virtually never watch educational, public affairs and news programs, even when such programs have been tailored to suit their needs (Fowles, 1992:223). Consequently, for children, television is a means of entertainment, not instruction. Hence, entertainment, rather than information, and fantasy, rather than reality is what takes priority. And as, George Heinemann, Vice president of one of America’s television network put it, “We’re story tellers, not teachers, Leave the teaching to the teachers in the classroom” (Fowles, 1992:227).

2.1.6 Televised violence and advertisements But whether television networks view their programs as instructional or not, they do carry out certain kinds of education and socialization that most people find undesirable.

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In the book “Children in the Cradle of Television” the writer hinted that a central concern about the effects of television on children has being in the area of violence, where questions as to whether children are modeling and imitating the violence they see on television have been raised. “Does a child’s viewing of television violence increase the likelihood of that child committing subsequent aggressive acts?”, he asked (Palmer, 1987:71). He said research by Psychologist, Albert Bandura in 1963, suggests that children do imitate what they see on television. Other studies have found out that, the more children viewed violence on television, the more they became desensitized to violence in real life (Palmer, 1987: 71,72). According to the author, “there was virtually no support for the early suggestion that violence viewing functioned as emotional release (catharsis), cleansing the viewer of aggressive tendencies. To the contrary, aggressive tendencies were heightened by viewing” (Palmer, 1987:72). He said other studies on the long-tern effects of television viewing painted a still gloomy picture on the effects of violence. Research studies carried out by Monroe Lefkowitz and his co-workers revealed that heavy television viewing among eight –year old boys was exceedingly connected to their likelihood of becoming juvenile delinquents in later years. George Gerbner and his co-workers also discovered that heavy television viewers also had a tendency to significantly overestimate aggression-related dangers in their daily lives and developed expectations of personalities who would be both perpetrators and victims of violence. This is because; women the elderly and minority groups are normally always portrayed as the victims of televised violence (ibid). The book also identified advertisements as one area that had a profound effect on young viewers. It said a number of professional groups have

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expressed concern about the dental health risks inherent in the advertisement of sugary food to children. Heavily sugared cereals remain the most advertised food items on children’s programs, leading to the cultivation of unhealthy eating habits in children and contributing to the incidence of obesity. The success of these advertisements lies in the psychological appeals they make to children, by identifying fun and acceptance with the use of products. Meanwhile, they normally omit important information about the product, such as, its ingredients, price, durability whilst subtly conveying information on male and racial dominance and glorifying leisure (Palmer, 1987: 74). In a bid to explain the social position occupied by television in the household, the writer drew an analogy between television and a bottle containing dangerous pills sitting on the bathroom. He said whilst adults are aware that the pill is dangerous and know how to use it safely, children lack both the awareness that the pill is dangerous and the knowledge on how to use it safely. In order to protect children from the potential danger of the pill, three choices are open; the manufacturer could label it with a “yuk face” to keep children away, the company could be required to use a container lid that only adults can open, or parents should be instructed to lock up all dangerous pills in a cupboard. The book said this analogy between television and a dangerous pill bottle is simplistic in the sense that, while it is easy to identify the pill within the bottle as dangerous, it is more difficult to identify the dangerous within television (Palmer, 1987:71). When it comes to child protection with regards to television as illustrated by the pill bottle analogy, it is necessary to consider the responsibilities of those who undertook the creation of the pill bottle and what

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it contains, as well as their marketing and positioning on the bathroom counter. The parties involved in the case of television are the network and the producer, manufacturers and sellers of television sets, the government and the consumer, which is the family (Palmer, 1987:74). Of all the parties, families as consumers are the ones who can readily take the matter into their own hands by learning effective consumer skills in relation to the use and viewing of television. Research indicates that by taking a conscious decision about the role television will play in their lives rather than leaving it to chance, families are able to use it to their advantage. This includes deciding on viewing patterns and programs that will promote the chosen role of television in their lives (Palmer, 1987:77). After undertaking this first decision, it will be necessary for families to examine what the different channels of television have on offer and select those that conform to their first decision. It is also important that parents learn to view the majority of programs with children since research indicates that the negative effects of television are greatly mitigated in children who view with their parents. In order not to allow television to be the sole family activity, parents should provide social alternatives to television viewing. They should also serve as a model for children’s television viewing by putting up a good example. Families as a whole should also be supportive of individual members and help each other develop a planned and positive use of television. Manufacturers of television sets have also contributed their quota to child protection by the channel lock, which allows parents to lock off channels deemed potentially dangerous to children (Palmers, 1987:78).

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2.1.7 Racial and sexual stereotypes on television. But in spite of the precautions that may be taken by parents to shield children from the effects of television such as violence, portrayals of sex and pornography, still other undesirable messages sieve through some acceptable programs into the consciousness of children. These normally occur in the realm of sexual and racial stereotypes. Palmer states that, “Males dominate the cast of characters, giving them social recognition and status. Sex stereotypes are both blatantly and subtly reinforced, and they serve to enhance the male image and diminish the female” (Palmer, 1987:80). Bradley Greenberg, a researcher, said the roles in which women are cast on television represent “one of the most sensitive indicators of the distribution of power and allocation of values that the symbolic world bestows upon its victors and victims”. In a survey of top educational shows, Rita Dohrmann, a media researcher, discovered a profound sexual inequity with men repeatedly role-cast as active and on the masterful side of a relationship while women were cast as passive and dependent in relationships (Ibid). According to “Children in the Cradle of Television”, women direct only 10 percent of all television production and write less than 20 percent. In 1984, only 6 percent of the writers for Paramount Pictures were women while there was no single female writer for another network that produced major female character series (ibid). The book “A Measure of Uncertainty: The Effects of Mass Media” also beliefs that the media propagates stereotypes of women. It said an analysis of 1600 commercials by Knill et al (1981) showed that over 80 percent of female product representatives were shown in the home or family setting whilst almost 70 percent of male product representatives appeared in business and

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managerial occupations. Male voices also provided 90 percent of voice overs or authoritative comments (Cumberbatch, Howit, 1989:14). Content analysis carried out on dramatic fiction showed parallel patterns. A research undertaken by Signorielli (1984) revealed that between 1969 and 1981, men outnumbered women on the American television screens by a ratio of 3 to 1. In Soap Operas, deemed the preserve of women, women were cast in subordinate positions to men while in adventure and children’s genres, stereotyped roles of men and women were highly visible. In educational programs such as “Sesame Street” and “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood”, men were portrayed as achievers, masterful and exhibited ingenuity whilst women were portrayed as passive and helpless

(Cumberbatch, Howit, 1989:15). Blacks and Hispanics are normally cast in situation comedies or as criminals while less than 5 percent of roles in primetime programs and films are allocated to blacks. This reflects the belief that “minority themes and minority leads in television series spell low Nielsen ratings and disaster”. For instance, LeVar Burton, a black actor (Kunte Kinte in roots) found himself unemployed and part of the actors that could easily be gotten rid off in the business (Palmer, 1987: 81). The writer was of the view that since children cannot be protected from sex and race related stereotypes on television, the best alternative remains the production of prosocial programs that are not tied to Nielsen ratings such as “Sesame Street” and “Mister Rogers”. In the book, “Questioning the Media”, a case study of the United States on how the media promotes racial stereotypes, entitled ‘Racism and the American way of Media’, said, “Communicating racism, both in the mass media and the conversations fed by the mass media, sustains it as an active

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cultural and therefore political force’ (Downing, Mohammadi, SrebernyMohammadi, 1995:354). The author, Ash Corea, wrote, “In general, as television developed, either African Americans were portrayed as simple happy uneducable buffoons or they were ignored” (Downing, Mohammadi, SrebernyMohammadi, 1995:354). Even the contributions of African Americans to national achievements went unrecognized by television. According to Ash Corea, despite the overrepresentation of African Americans compared with their numbers in the general population in the Vietnam War, documentaries on the war scarcely included or mentioned them (ibid). In addition, television, radio and the music industry have seized the cultural forms produced by African Americans in the development of art, especially music to which they have been pivotal such as blues, jazz and swing, without their actual participation. She noted that whilst the original swing bands were those of African Americans; Duke Ellington and Count Basie, bands of white Americans; Glenn Miller and the Dorsey brothers were dubbed ‘king of swing.’ The writer further argues that there has never being an African American musical star who has owned a musical television series ‘with national syndication and a national advertising sponsor’. She cited the example of the Nat “King” Cole show premiered on NBC in 1956, which never found a national sponsor in spite of its popularity, and the efforts of NBC. “None of the conglomerates wanted to be identified with a ‘Negro program” (ibid) she wrote. Concluding her arguments that television has become a tool for the entrenchment of racism in the American culture, Ash Corea wrote, “The U.S. version of apartheid is as evident on TV as it is in the city neighborhoods. . .At

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the same time, when African Americans do appear, their presentation normally fits the racist culture of this society like a glove. It is especially the case that the absence of African Americans from positions of authority in the television industry has contributed to their lack of influence over media roles and portrayals” (Downing, Mohammadi, Sreberny-Mohammadi, 1995:360). The writers of “Television and the Socialization of the Minority Child” also support this view. “Minorities are rarely part of television’s social order”, they wrote (Berry, Mitchell-Kernan, 1982:23). For instance, according to a study undertaken by Mendelson &Young in 1972, only 9 percent of characters cast in Saturday morning network programming in the United States belong to minorities while 61 percent are whites. The remaining 30 percent are not ethnically identifiable (ibid). Besides, minority characters, such as blacks, normally appear in programs that are filled with minority characters such as situation comedies, which account for 60 percent of black characters appearing in primetime series. But when minorities are cast in programs other than black series, they are usually few and play minor characters (Berry, Mitchell Kernan, 1982:24). Consequently, for children, whites dominate the world of television. Even though some researchers claim there have significant changes in the way blacks and other minorities are portrayed on television, the relationship of power between minorities and whites still remain the same. According to a 1977 report issued by the United States Commission for Civil Rights, minorities, especially blacks, were more likely in the past to be portrayed in negative roles such as incompetent, violent, stupid, victimized, lazy, servile, and humorous. However, an analysis of some broadcast series in mid 1974 “showed that blacks more than whites, made reparations for bad behavior, resisted temptation, delayed gratification or persisted in tasks, and

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explained their feelings: they acted aggressively and altruistically less than whites did” (Donagher, Poulos, Liebert, & Davidson, 1975). But the power relationships that were once clear in early portrayals, with subservient roles and negative characters being the preserve of blacks, are now subtler. Black dominance occurs only in black series whilst in a production involving whites they are less dominant. Besides, in the few productions that blacks are allowed to dominate, they do so in collaboration with white partners. Minority characters are portrayed as victims, rather than killers and less likely to be authority figures or information sources in educational shows (Berry, Mitchell Kernan, 1982: 25). According to “Television and the Socialization of the Minority Child”, “The personality characteristics given to minority characters and the situations in which they are demonstrated are generally supportive of the current social structure. So too are the majority of social roles minorities, as opposed to whites, fill on television. Minorities normally fit our stereotypes of American society by being poor (Fernandez-Collado et al., 1978, 1979) and confined to their own ghetto. When minorities have more powerful roles, they are generally those that support the current social order (Clark 1969). Blacks are police officers and teachers. They maintain the current laws of the land and educate our children into our system. There are only infrequent glimpses of minorities who are middle or upper class, who live and work in a social order that is more equitable for all, or who successfully challenge inequities” (ibid). The writers claim that racial stereotypes on television have implications for children who look up to television for role models. For minority children, the choice of role models originating from the same ethnicity as themselves are few and fall within a small variety of careers, personality characteristics and social circumstances. The only choice of role models who are powerful

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and successful then falls among white characters. The fact that minority children are presented with two choices makes their social learning from television unpredictable. If they choose to model themselves after minority roles, they are more likely to cultivate a less knowledgeable, less assertive, less wealthy, and less dominant attitude than their white counterparts and in the process accept white versions of who they are. On the other hand, if they choose they model themselves after white characters, they might imbibe white, rather than minority values and imitate their behavior in relation to family life, money, work, competition, aggression and co-operation (Berry, Mitchell-Kernan, 1982: 27, 28). Hence, inevitably, minority children may be forced to abandon characteristic features of their own culture in order to model themselves after white role models, or may have to rely heavily on their families and communities for role models (ibid). Further more, the long hours spent watching television may undermine the development of other skills and interests. The development of any skill requires investment of time, which is spent watching television. It may be necessary to find out what both minority and white children lose by watching television. For some children, the alternatives may be negative such as involvement in fistfights, alcohol and drug use and crime. But for several others, they might be giving up positive things such as the development of athletic, intellectual, artistic, interpersonal and mechanical skills (ibid).

2.1.8 Television soap operas in family life An ethnographic study to investigate the place of soap operas in the home, a feminist approach to the soap opera genre and how viewers read it as

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a text was carried out in Western Oregon in the United States by Seiter et al (www.ber.ac.uk/media, 2004:5). Most of the 64 people, who were interviewed in the study, including 15 men, claimed that viewing soap operas served as a source of catharsis and was therapeutically beneficial. Writing in the book “Soap Operas and Women’s Talk”, Brown stated that women find pleasure in soap operas because they see other women expressing their feelings and feel free to gossip about soap opera characters because there is no repercussion for doing so (Brown, 1994:18). In interviews conducted by Dorothy Hobson with women to investigate why they find soap operas pleasurable, they said it was due to the undemanding nature of the genre, its interesting story lines and the ability for viewers to become emotionally involved (Seitel et al, 1991:157). In her article “Why are Soap Operas so popular?” Helena Robson said soap operas “appeal to the masses because it allows viewers to put their knowledge of the world and knowledge of the conventions of television into play. The close –up shots characteristically used in soaps enables viewers to focus on the characters’ emotions and to understand most, if not all, of the actions depicted…In this way, the characters are emotional representatives, inviting the audience to partake in the arising issues and conflicts, in order that they may seek temporary solutions to the problems they are experiencing in real life” (www.aber.ac.uk/media, 2004:2). However, other research studies have shown that women rarely watch soap operas in an attempt to seek solutions for their problems but rather the setting of soap operas as well as the time they are telecast makes women the majority of viewers. A research undertaken by Modleski showed that soap operas often reflect the role of women in the home and are mostly aired in the

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day. This makes them an automatic choice for women working at home. Because the genre is undemanding, with more emphasis on talk, rather than action, women can go about their busy schedules at home whilst catching a gist of soap opera conversation on television. Besides, soap operas emphasis on family, public situations and the community instills a sense of belonging in viewers and offers a surrogate family and social life for the lonely (www.aber.ac.uk/media, 20042). Just like Modleski, Kreizenberg, another researcher on soaps, claims that soaps derive their strength from the family unit. He pointed out that most often, soaps question family relations while including occasional dramatic events such as a death or a wedding in their plots in addition to mundane situations such as family feuds. By so doing, the genre successfully holds the interest of viewers (Allen, 1992:130). However, some writers do not view women’s fascination with soaps as merely because it reflects the home but because most often it shows how male dominance at home is challenged by women. Writing in “Women and Soap Operas: A study of Prime –Time Soaps”, Geraghty observed that “the pleasure for women viewers of patriarchal soaps is the demonstration that male power, challenged on the one hand by moral questioning and on the other by the women’s refusal to be controlled, can never be fully unproblematically asserted” (Geraghty, 1991:74). Thus, soaps serve as an outlet for feminine anger since they normally strip the male head of the family of the stereotypical authoritative and powerful image associated with action thrillers. Consequently, some writers, such as Brown, view soaps as a source of feminine strength because “they help women test the waters to see how far they can go in challenging social norms” (Brown, 1994:12).

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This view, is however, a far cry from the views held by some writers who assert that women’s preoccupation with soap operas is symptomatic of physical and psychic maladies whilst others see it as playing on the low intelligence Quotient (I.Q) of women and a refuge for the lazy housewife. According to the book, “Speaking of soap Operas”, “ Soap Operas serve as a sort of re-medial ethics and civics lesson for the socially retarded” (Allen, 1985:26). The book quotes a Soap Opera writer as saying; “Women of the daytime audiences are having physical and psychic problems that they themselves cannot understand, that they cannot solve. Being physical, they feel the thrust of these problems. Being poor, they cannot buy remedies in the form of doctors, new clothes or deciduous coiffures; being unanalytical, they cannot figure out what is really the matter with them; being inarticulate, they cannot explain their problem even if they know what it is…Soap opera takes them into their own problems or into problems worse than their own (which is the same thing only better). Or it takes them away from their problems. It gives listeners two constant and frequently simultaneous choices-participation or escape. Both work.” (ibid). The book also sees soap operas as functioning to restrict women’s role in society to the domestic sphere. The author asserted that, a study carried out on women by Warner and Henry showed that soaps operas work to strengthen and stabilize the basic social structure of society, the family, by impressing on the minds of women that the world outside is evil and unfulfilling and their place is in the home. According to the book, these researchers summed up their research saying; “…As females in our society they have learned by rewards and punishment, from birth to sexual maturity, to conform to the rigid conventions of our middle class culture. They have been trained by their families to be wives and mothers and, unconsciously, to carry out and

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maintain the roles, moral beliefs, and values of their social level. This they do most effectively. We shall have occasion to say it later, but is well to say it now, that should they fail in this behavior our society, as we know it, will not continue” (Allen, 1985:28). This view of soap operas as an instrument for maintaining the status quo is also shared by Dolores Hayden in her book “Redesigning the American Dream: The future of housing, work and family life”. She asserts that soap operas were designed to fit into a domestic setup that will nurture “a conservative point of view in the working man” (Hayden, 1984:33). They are tied to the need to entice women away from the workplace, a place they virtually invaded during world war one; and the call by unions for a ‘family wage’ for men so that women and children will not need to work (ibid). But the book, “Never ending stories, American Soap Operas and the Cultural Production of Meaning” has a different viewpoint. According to the book, “Not only women who work outside the home but also those who take care of a household and children vehemently distance themselves from the image of the (lazy) housewife associated with the prototypical soap opera viewer” (Borchers, Kreutzner, Warth, 1994:197). Citing some interviews that were conducted with women, the book said some women had the opinion that viewing soap operas was illicit terrain which had a stigma attached to it. It quoted one of the interviewees, identified as Jane, as saying, “Only housewives that don’t have anything better to do watch soap operas” (ibid). According to the book, this interviewee relates the stigmatized and culturally discriminated text of soap operas to the image of soap opera viewers as bored housewives. Another interviewee, a mother of two and a part time worker said, “For years, I will never watch a soap. To me, that was the worst

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thing. Only housewives will sit around all day and watch soap operas. That is the worst” (ibid). Most writers also point out that the soap opera genre was born, developed and maintained out of the need to reach women with advertisements. “In the soap opera, advertisers have found the ideal vehicle for the reinforcement of advertising impressions and the best means yet devised for assuring regular viewing”, says the book, “Speaking of Soap Operas”(Allen, 1985:47). The writer goes on to say, “Viewed in this light, the soap opera text is but a context for the messages of the corporations that ‘sponsor’ the soap operas’ presentation. Obviously, however, it is that ‘context’ which attracts the viewer and sustains his or her attention between commercials” (Allen, 1985:46). Mary Ellen Brown, in her book, “Soap Opera and Women’s Talk”, traces the history of the genre as arising initially by the need of manufacturing companies to sell soap to housewives before being used by numerous others to sell their products to women (Brown, 1994: 44). Still other writers have tried to establish how soap opera characters correspond to real life characters. In the book, “Women and Soap Opera: A study of Prime –Time Soaps”, Marion Jordan identified three types of women normally portrayed by Soap Operas. They are the ‘married woman’, the ‘single woman’ and the ‘grandmother’ type. Meanwhile, Buckman recognizes social types such as the ‘good woman’, the ‘bitch’, the ‘villain’ and the ‘decent husband’ (Geraghty, 1991:132). Various writers have also tried to expound the effects of television on the cultural, socio economic and even religious lives of viewers. Such

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investigations have ranged from the view of television as a tool of cultural imperialism to the role of religious fetishism.

2.1.9 Television as a tool of imperialism From the point of view of cultural imperialism, television does not just inform but carries out the information process clothed within a cultural garb that promotes and reinforces certain cultures while destroying others. Central to this perception is the notion that the cultures of third world countries are being purged out of existence by the overwhelming exportation of western culture to these countries via television resulting in the imposition of western ideologies. Research into the current information imbalance between developed and developing countries suggests that the flow of news from the developed into the developing countries is a hundred times that of the vice versa. Studies undertaken by UNESCO showed that African countries imported 55 per cent of their television programs. This perspective has led to calls for a new world information and communication order. In the book ‘Questioning the Media, A Critical Introduction’ Ali Mohammedi, writing on the topic ‘Cultural Imperialism and National Identity’ said, Ayatollah Khomeini, the spiritual leader of Iran, as far back as the 1940’s spoke against the negative impact of the importation of western values (Downing, Mohammadi, Sreberny-Mohammadi, 1990:374). He “warned that the media were propaganda vehicles for western imperialists who were trying to undermine Iran”. Consequently, some religious authorities condemned watching television. Others labeled the possession of a television set as sinful. “The city of Qum, which is the equivalent of the Vatican for Iranian Shi'ite Muslims actually banned the viewing of television…” (ibid).

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According to the writer, not only did television serve as a multiplier of western values, consumptions promoted by advertisements and the depiction of western lifestyles in films but also sought to undermine age old traditions such as marriage and courtship systems in Iran since what was depicted in western films was in contradiction to what pertained in Iran where parents play a key role in the choice of one’s spouse, courtship and marriage (ibid). Ali Mohammed said Iranian television programs comprised of only 22 percent of serious local programs and 78 percent of imported western films. These included: “star trek”, “Days of our loves”, “I love Lucy”, “Bonanza”, “Marcus Welby”, “M.D” and “Tarzan” among others (Downing, Mohammadi, Sreberny-Mohammadi, 1995:373). Ali Mohammed noted that similar sentiments were shared by Ghandi and leaders of the non/aligned movement of third world countries who at a meeting of the heads of state of member countries in 1973 made a formal joint declaration that imperialist activities in the third world were not confined to only the political and economic spheres but had extended its tentacles to the social and cultural spheres through the superiority of the communications technology and communications software of the developed world. They described this as a threat to their own national cultures and identities. The writer emphasized that the experience of Iran showed ‘how neocolonial subordination and cultural inferiority can be fostered from a distance, without the elaborate machinery of colonial rule” (Downing, Mohammadi, Sreberny-Mohammadi, 1995:377). But the book “Agents of Power” recognizes that Africa and other third world countries whose cultural heritage may be under threat because of western dominance over television could use the same medium to promote

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their culture. The writer said in spite of the fact that many professional journalists and professors in Nigeria were educated in Britain and the United States, they were firmly behind their country’s official broadcasting policy of preserving their traditional heritage, no matter how primitive it may appear in modern eyes (Altschull, 1984:157). Hence, “through out the 19 states of Nigeria, programs feature colorfully costumed native singers and dancers chanting in local languages and dancing to the beat of ceremonial drums” (Altschull, 1984:158). Occasionally, Nigerian television may include foreign programs like “Starsky and Hutch”. However, in comparison with capitalist countries and Latin American countries, they telecast very few of the situation comedies and dramas aired in the United States. While English is the official language of Nigeria with news programs broadcast in English, local languages dominate other programs, which center on local themes (ibid). The writer said, nonetheless, some Nigerians are not content with the ratio of local to foreign programs. Voicing the opinions of many at a meeting of broadcasters, Olufolaji Ajibola Fadeyibi, a lecturer of the University of Lagos, lamented that too many British and American programs were being presented on Ibadan television. Summing up his speech, he said, “The conclusion is obvious. There is no need for us to perpetuate a situation as well as condemn it at the same time. If the western nations won’t talk about us, play our music and enlighten their audiences about our culture, then we have no business talking about them, playing their music and showing “kojak”. By so doing, we will be putting an end to our cultural genocide and communication neo-colonialism. To expect the western nations to facilitate the bi-directional flow of information is to expect a river to flow backwards. Surely, no flow is better than free flow” (ibid).

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The writer noted that, even though Nigeria could well stand out as the most capitalist country in Africa, it shares the contempt exhibited by several Africa countries for the cultural penetration of the continent by the United States, Britain and the rest of the capitalist world. Generally, most writers on television tend to fall into two broad categories: those who advocate media education as a solution or as a means of mediating the negative influences of television and those who painstakingly analyze the effects of television on people, whether negative or positive. Among those writers who have proposed media education as an urgent necessity in view of the pervasiveness of television are Bukingham in his books “Watching media learning: Making sense of media education” and “Children Talking Television: The making of Television Literacy” and Bianculli in “Teleliteracy: Taking Television seriously”. Other authors are Barry in “Visual Intelligence: Perception, Image and manipulation in Visual Communication; Alvarado, Gutch and Wollen in “Learning the Media: An introduction to media Education” and Alvarado and Boyd-Barret in Media Education: An Introduction”. The second category of authors who have chronicled television effects include Rosengren in “Media Effects and Beyond: Culture, Socialization and Lifestyles” and Jameison and Campbell in “The Interplay of Influence: News, Advertising, Politics and the mass Media”.

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CHAPTER III
3.1 EXAMINATION OF CONTENTS OF TELEVISION IN RELATION TO THE FAMILY Generally, research on the usage of television programs in families has shown that men are identified with factual programs (news, sports, current affairs and documentaries) whilst women exhibit a preference for fictional programs (Lull, 1988:43). In fact sports viewers are twice as likely to be an adult male instead of a woman or a child (Comstock, 1978:113). Children and the youth may take an interest in several programs, but children normally prefer cartoons whilst the youth tend to gravitate around musical programs.

3.1.1 News and Sports for men If one considers the fact that one of the key functions of the media, and for that matter television, is to keep surveillance over society, no other genre realizes this better than the news genre. It is through the gathering and dissemination of news that television monitors the world for whatever is threatening or unexpected and also confirms what is expected in the case of planned events. As mentioned in chapter I, television replaces the primitive fireplace in our time and serves as the pivot around which the family gathers to listen to the events of the day. This role of television in providing information is very crucial to the well being of mankind. This is because whilst food and sleep are crucial to survival, they are inadequate for maintaining psychological order in human societies. People need certain types of information for reality maintenance and assurance, which needs to be carried out regularly for their mental and psychological well-being. The news genre provides information, which is invaluable in the sense that, it helps to integrate and connect people with their

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fellow human beings, confirm what they already know, and in the process reassures them. The importance of news in maintaining psychological health should not be underestimated; messages that reassure people that there is order in the world are indispensable for people to plan their lives and initiate personal goals, without which disorder may enter the human consciousness as a form of disabling anxiety. Television is well equipped to inform because of the richness of its visual information that enable it to achieve realism and psychological proximity. The end result is that television news has demystified leaders by reducing the awe that political leaders once enjoyed through ‘distant visibility’ by the excess familiarity given to them by repeated television coverage. This familiarity brings politicians who were once held in awe to the scrutiny of ordinary citizens where their human frailties such as stammering, sweating, stumbling are on stage for every one to see (Downing, Mahammadi, SrebernyMohammadi, 1995 :48, 49). An example of how television can expose the emotions of leaders, which in some cases may be detrimental, is the fall of United States President Nixon. When the U.S public witnessed the gestures of President Nixon on television during the ‘Watergate’ scandal, the general consensus was that he behaved as if he had something to hide (Fowles, 1992:199). Even though the investigations into President Nixon’s affairs was initiated by two journalists whose reports appeared in one newspaper, the effect was minimal until it was broadcast on television where it begun to draw public opinion against the president. In 1973, television gave 37 days of live coverage to the Watergate hearings, which stirred up the apprehensions of the

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American people. Viewing the hearings, and other televised events that followed, Americans were unanimous that hey did not like what they were hearing or seeing which finally led to the impeachment of President Nixon. Television news played a major role in this decision by putting the president and the people in touch through good pictures (ibid). Another event in which television news played a central role was the assassination of U.S President John F. Kennedy in 1963. It was through television that news of the assassination traveled through a nation of 200 million with much rapidity and accuracy. The American families did not only experience and share the same emotions by viewing television but were also able to share in the grief of the wife and children of the president; with the son copying a salute and the daughter following her mother to kiss the flag on her mother’s coffin (Fowles, 1992:176). But in spite of the important role that television news plays in maintaining the psychological health of individuals, it does not enjoy such a large audience as the entertainment programs, but rather has become the preserve of the adult male. In one survey conducted in the U.S., less than 10 percent of the sample being studied said they watched television for news and information whilst in another survey, news programs were at the bottom of the list of program preferences on television whilst entertainment programs were at the top. One third of regular viewers of news also said in a survey they would not miss the news if it were taken off screen for several weeks (Fowles, 1992:180). One reason is that after a hard days work, most people find the further imposition of informational material unwelcome. Whilst Television stations in America devote 15 percent of programs to news, the audience spend only 10 percent of their viewing time on the news (Fowles, 1992:185).

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Another research study established that only one third of the main points of television news are understood by viewers, 40 percent of whom dine whilst viewing television. Misinterpretation of news events is a common phenomenon, as indicated by a study by the American Association of Advertising Agencies in 1980. This phenomenon can be explained using Gerhardt Wiebe’s (1970) scheme of directive, maintenance and restorative usage of mass media content (Fowles, 1992:182). According to Wiebe, people tend to convert directive messages, that is, news with new information content that demand new responses, to maintenance messages. Maintenance messages are a review, an embellishment or an elaboration of what people already know. This conversion of messages from directive to maintenance occurs when people feel threatened by new information that is likely to lead to an imbalance, which the conversion helps them to avoid. Because most people use television as a source of entertainment, there is also the danger of converting directive information into restorative, escapist, messages. As

observed by Mark Robert Levy, “Many people also find that television news entertains while it informs and reassures. Like situation comedies and detective ‘shoot-’em –ups’, the newscast temporary releases some members of the audience from the pressing cares of daily existence” (Fowles, 1992:183). Hence, serious political news broadcasts may be taken as restorative messages and entertainment by the audience, which will only undermine the purposes for which the news has been telecast. When this conversion of serious directive political messages into restorative messages occur, people are likely to elect candidates who suit the fantasy needs of the public and possess charismatic qualities, rather than what is required of them for good governance (ibid).

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3.1.1.1 Criticisms of television news Firstly, airtime allocated to television news, which ranges from 15 to 30 minutes, means that only a few stories can be broadcast. These stories are also more likely to be chosen for their film footage rather than news value (Fowles, 1992:186). The drive for high audience members may lead to a preference for material that is shallow and sensationalistic which allows triviality to drive out more serious issues (ibid). Because it takes a lot of time to assemble a television crew when news suddenly breaks out, most news teams are likely to miss actual news events. This result is the proliferation of pseudo-events where public relations officers arrange happenings that are staged and filmed by television as news. Besides, television is a narrative medium that delivers news in simple story telling frames, which are closed, and limited. It ends up giving partial truth, not all the truth with simple values. But the reality of life is complicated truth. There are several angles to a story about a person who murders his family and then commits suicide. The act involves psychological, cultural, familial and other factors that cannot be given in the 30 seconds normally allocated to each news item on television (CO 2036: The Language, Experience and Genres of Television). The urgency of television news also reduces the reality and complexity of events. Television can afford to give only one angle of an event rather than a global view. At times, ideological motives, the need for scoops and the desire for journalists to give different angles to a story end up creating a news story different from what actually happened in their reportage (ibid).

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3.1.2 Televised sports As stated earlier, television has replaced the primitive fires around which ancient man used to recount the stories of the day and to play. Televised sports mimic this play in a way that no other television genre does and shows how ritual participation takes place in the technological and commercialized world of the media. A billon people watch both the World Cup and the Olympic games worldwide and over a 100 countries purchase television rights to these games (Real, 1996:52). Televised World Cup games have been known to spark off jubilations in countries such as Nigeria, Cameroon, Mexico and Ireland whose teams were victorious. On the other hand, supporters of teams that lost have been known to riot, fight and kill by the negative emotions inspired by what they watched on television. In the United States, the three major television networks broadcast sporting events for on an average of 1,200 hours every year in 400 separate events to a total of five billion viewers every year (Fowles, 1992:149).

3.1.2.1 Televised sports: an advantage or disadvantage? People watching television from the comfort of their living rooms are more likely to have a clearer view of what happens during the game than some less fortunate spectators whose positioning in the stadium may not give them this advantage. This is because, television normally focuses on action around the ball, cuts away views on team positioning and thus eliminates for the viewer overall field strategy. Announcers provide cues for the viewer by highlighting specific actions and players. Instant replays and slow motion

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techniques also detach specific parts of the game for deeper scrutiny. The screen also provides information on the scores, time and performance details (Real, 1996:57). But perhaps, of even greater advantage is the fact that, televised sports by reducing the potential number of people at a sporting event, also greatly reduces sports related violence and offers some degree of protection to those who participate in sporting events via the screen. The history of sports, especially football, is replete with stories of violence: In Ghana, over a 100 people died in the Accra Sports Stadium in 2000 when the police tried to use tear gas to control supporters of the Accra Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko, two archrivals in Ghanaian football. During the European Cup finals in 1985, 39 people were killed and 437 injured in confrontations between the two finalists, Liverpool and Juventus of Italy. In 1989, 95 people died at the Heysel Stadium in Hillsborough, and during the 1994 World Cup, Colombia player, 27-year-old Andres Escobar, was assassinated by an angry fan because he let his country down (Real, 1996:52). In addition to the above, others have identified the element of fantasy in televised sports as the central issue bringing benefits to the adult male, much like how some fictional genres provide fantasy for their audiences. According to this school of thought, various forms of assaults are essential in any sporting event. As television critic, Horace Newcomb put it “The idea of conflict is central. Legitimate violence is present in varying degrees in athletic contests” (Newcomb, 1974:192). Hence, in sports, balls and other surrogates rather than people are hit (Fowles, 1992:148). Televised sports also bears some structural parallels to fictionalized genres in the sense that they are all governed by certain conventions, operate

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within strict time constraints and revolve around actions that should neither be boring nor unbelievable at the same time. Besides sports contest also involve good and bad guys all striving to win a trophy, and produces heroes for viewers to identify with just like any other fantasy genre (Fowles, 1992:149). Therefore sports also serve as an antithesis for a day of hard work, and a stress reliever. This fact was testified by a report in Time magazine in 1978, which said the number of violent assaults, more than doubled after the end of the football season in the home of the ‘Super Bowl Champion Dallas Cowboys’ (Fowles, 1992:151). Others have criticized televised sports for isolating viewers from the scene of activity, saying, “this arms length involvement in sports eliminates for spectators the benefits to physical health and reduces the benefits in general to psychic, emotional and social ones” (Downing, Mohammadi, Sreberny-Mohammadi, 1995:471). According to the critics, televised sports encourage fans to dream themselves into phony self-images of vigor, action and victory whilst leading passive and unhealthy lifestyles. “Alas, the sports coach potato does exist”, they claim (ibid). Another criticism leveled against the televised sport fan is that he does not experience the “environment of crowds, expressive behavior of cheering and booing, physical movement to and at the game and other traditional experiences of the classic sports spectator” (ibid). Besides television has changed the very nature of sports and seems to dictate the evolvement of sports to suit its needs, created and spiraled by an intense commercialization due to advertisements which has brought sports into the realm of the spectacular.

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Before the advent of television, American football had two teams with 15 members each, with four as reserve players. The spectators were local fans and groups of friends, who identified with each other, the players and the community or city in which the sporting teams were based (Baugh, CO2036: 2005). Today, television has rendered sports fans impersonal whilst sporting teams no longer consist of local fans but foreign players because sports has been rendered spectacular by television and has become a highly commercialized activity. The sporting event used to be directly experienced and there was dialogue between spectators and players and a shared feeling of belonging, with the sport and the players being the most important thing. Television, however, has abrogated all this. Instead, it creates a narrator, a kind of bridge between the sporting events and the viewers who explains what is not comprehensible to viewers as a result of the inability of television to show the whole field at once (ibid). Furthermore, television has turned sporting events that used to be simple pastimes into something scientific whilst prying into the private lives of well known sports men and women in its efforts to sensationalize sports; statistics are given at the beginning and end of televised sports whilst information is given on the sentimental life of players. Besides, there is a drastic difference between viewing sports in reality and viewing them on television. Television does not capture sports on a single camera but sometimes uses as many as 30 cameras. This creates 30 points of view. Camera angles change the point of view; zoom in, zoom out, fade out, pan, cut, all these techniques create for the viewer something different from

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what actually takes place on the field. In this regard, it is the television stations and their directors who determine what the viewer sees (ibid). Apart from the fact that viewers do not determine what they want to see, split screen techniques allow television stations to show viewers as much as four different points of view at the same time coupled with instantaneous repetitions of peak periods that do not only render sports spectacular but also convert it into a dense “text”. Televised sports therefore remain a virtual reality because nobody sees the events as they are represented on television (ibid). Further more, television has helped to create sports superstars which in turn have turned the event into big business that bestows fame and power to those who succeed in it and even accords them the role of experts in fields in which they have very little or no knowledge such as politics and morality. But alas, all is not rosy for even those who succeed in sports. Television fame is highly precarious and sports men and women held in high esteem and accorded the mythic role of demigods soon come tumbling down upon making mistakes in their lives. What happened to O.J. Simpson and Michael Jordan illustrate this.

3.1.2.2 The Sports- media complex. The commercialization and commodification of sports events has resulted in technological payoffs that have benefited television in general. The impetus for the development of technologies for graphic storage and recall, the generation of special effects, audiovisual manipulation, as well as electronic amplified relays was provided by demands of speed, scale and complexity of sporting events. Thus, stereo transmissions, cordless on field cameras,

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mechanically shuttered slow and stop motion cameras and uniform graphic fonts were first used at the Olympic and World Cup games before spreading to other spheres of television. The first high definition television (HDTV) was first provided on 200 public monitors in Tokyo during the 1988 Seoul Olympic games. This was a follow up to NHK’s ability to compress two instantaneous video pictures into one frame in Japan that was transmitted to Los Angeles via satellite in 1984 (Real, 1996:57). Consequently, the television fan can become deeply immersed in the sporting event but at what cost? Televised sports is replete with advertisements on cars, fast foods, beer, all kinds of consumer goods and in the US appeals for military recruitment (Real, 1996:58).

3.1.3 Children’s experience with television Because television programs tend to mute the age stratifications of society and allows children to view programs with adult content, it has become a means for leaking out adult secrets to children. The result is that the innocence of childhood has been diluted whilst parental authority has been undermined by the way television works against any system of information control that parents may want to establish. Unlike books which are subject to adult control, who then decide whether a child should read it or not by flipping through the pages, television more or less functions as a door into the household through which rushes several ‘visitors’ who welcome or unwelcome rush children around the world before they are even allowed by parents to cross the street. Such adult programs may have a strong impact on children in the sense that due to their lack of experience, they do not have preconceived notions of

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society to guide them as to how to judge and rate televised material and may come to accept such programs as depicting the real adult world (Christenson & Roberts, 1983:79). However, whilst children may have access to programs with adult content, the vehicle mostly used by television programmers to target children is cartoons.

3.1.3.1 Cartoons for children. A study by Wilbur Schramm on how children utilize television contents has shown that they have a preference for fantasy, which gratifies them most. Children’s preference for fantasy out number that for reality by a ratio of twenty to one. This may be due to the fact that fantasy meets important psychological needs of children since it is during childhood that, that energy and impulsiveness which form the basis of the child’s personality are socialized to conform to the ideals of society. In a study on television fantasy and adolescent aggression, Seymour Feshbach, a psychology professor, said, “the greatest developmental lessons of childhood is learning how to control retaliatory impulses and direct them into proper channels” (Fowles, 1979:186). Also the fact that aggression, which is the most common component of children’s dreams occurs twice as frequently in adult dreams reveals that children go through a lot of anger during their formative phase (Hall & Nordby, 1972:19). In experiments carried out by Feshbach and Robert Singer, they found out that exposure to aggressive content on television does not lead to increases

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in aggressive behavior. Rather, the aggressive contents of television seem to lessen or control the expression of aggression in aggressive boys from low socio-economic backgrounds (Feshbach & Singer, 1971:145). In the view of Psychologist Jerome Lopiparo, aggression needs to be part of a child’s life because it helps him cope with his feelings of powerlessness. Hence, it is for this reason that children are drawn to television violence since many of the frustrations they feel can be worked out safely on the screen through which they can experience the illusion of power which eludes them in real life (Lopiparo, 1977:346) It is no wonder then that violent cartoons that contain the most gore and violence are the most sought after programs by children. And in response to this craving for violence by their young audience, cartoons feature a violent episode at least every two minutes in order to hold their interest. Further more, cartoons do not depict the consequences of violence. An eight year old who was interviewed on the subject of cartoons said, “In cartoons, they never have the character die. He just gets all black and blown up –and then they make like it doesn’t hurt” (Winick & Winick, 1979:176). This strategy has been employed by the creators in order not to destroy the pleasure of the young audience by depicting consequences since the essence of cartoons is to give pleasure. Besides, the non–depiction of the consequences of violence also allow children to momentarily escape from the real world where the consequences of violence are felt. But why have cartoons, which consist of animation, rather than actors, become the most popular television genre for children? This is because of the special attributes of cartoons, notably their ability to reduce the amount of information communicated to children to the bare essentials since young

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minds lack the skill to sort out relevant information from a scene and discard what is irrelevant. Cartoons allow producers to tune their products to the pre-logical thinking of children since the drawings can be manipulated to do just that whilst it will be impossible to achieve the same effect with real actors. With cartoon characters, everything is possible from flying, ripping up mountains, turning houses into automobiles, animals that have the power of speech and motorcycles that are alive to shrinking buildings and all that cannot be achieved with life and blood characters, real things and creatures. By so doing, cartoons create a world of fantasy within which a fantasizing child can enjoy with ease and without guilt.

3.1.3.2 Benefits of cartoons to children Since cartoons create a world of fantasy to which children escape to find joy and pleasure, is it not likely that this world of fantasy will spill over to their conception of the real world, thus creating confusion in their young minds? Research however has proved this to be the opposite since the great gap between cartoon fantasies and the real world rather equips young children with the capacity to discriminate between the two (Hodge & Tripp, 1986:9). Instead, cartoons help to ease out tension and hostility from the minds of children. In a research on why children view television in 1970, most children identified relaxation as the prime reason (Lyle & Hoffman, 1972:135). For most of these children, television was well ahead of music, movies, reading, games, sports, conversation and solitude as a means of relaxation.

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3.1.3.3 Does cartoon violence impact positively or negatively on children? There exist two schools of thought on the impact of cartoon violence on children. One school of thought views cartoon violence as actually beneficial and an antidote to overt expression of violence in children. An experiment often sited to support this view is one in which children between four to 12 years were shown both violent Vietnam War footage and violent cartoons. Whilst all the viewers under experimentation found the Vietnam War footage to be violent, 73 percent of four to eight year olds and 83 percent of nine to 12 year olds said the cartoon fantasies were non-violent. The explanation being given for this phenomenon is that children find animated aggression non-violent because the fantasies come and go through their minds, relieving them of pent-up animosity and aggravation. On the other hand, real life scenes linger and fester, exasperating the viewer. The second school of thought views cartoon violence as reproducing violence in children. However, of the experimental studies that have so far being conducted, none of them can be used to charge cartoons of instilling violence in children. What is disturbing is that research conducted on eight and nine year olds suggest that children find the depictions on cartoons, in terms of characters, situations and story lines believable (Beasich, Leinoff & Swan, 1992:65). Besides, since children are able to understand the story lines depicted by cartoons better than other programs, is it not possible that they will end up internalizing the social realities portrayed in them? (Swan, Meskill, DeMaio, 1998:88).

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3.1.4 Impact of television on the reading skills of children Another area of grave concern to both parents and teachers alike is whether the long hours spent by children in front of the television set do not lower their reading skills. This may be due to the fact that, information from images or pictures on television are processed differently from information taken from words. When taking information from pictures, one takes multiple pieces of information simultaneously, which is known as parallel processing. In contrast, information from words is processed one at a time, which is known as serial processing (Marks, 1984:20). Based on these differences, Marie Winn, a child psychologist, has suggested that “the mental differences demanded by the television experience may cause children who have logged thousands of hours in front of the set to enter the reading world more superficially, more impatiently, more vaguely” (Fowles, 1992:234). Others are of the view that reading and television viewing are not opposing but harmonizing activities. While television has taken over the fantasy services formerly performed for children by comic books, radio serials, movies, and escape magazines, the area of reality media; books, newspapers and non fantasy magazines, still remain untouched. Research conducted by Wilbur Schramm in 1960 showed that heavy print users were also prone to being heavy television users (Fowles, 1992:237). But still others are of the view that the nature of fantasy provided by fantasy books such as fairy tales differs a lot from that provided by television, which makes television fantasy deficient in several ways. For instance, television fantasies such as cartoons lack a sense of history whereas classic children’s stories have always alluded to historical characters and events with some being basically historical stories. Thus,

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children’s classics provided an excellent way of teaching history to children in which the beliefs, mores and values of their cultures were embedded. The absence of history from cartoons is a serious shortcoming because knowledge of history is an important part of culture (Swan, Meskill, DeMaio, 1998:102). Besides, children’s classics, especially fairy tales, address psychological issues that are of primary importance to a developing child such as “the fear of being abandoned, the fear of powerful adults, and the fear of their own negative impulses” (Bruno, 1976:44). Fairytales, by depicting heroes and heroines who overcome grave dangers with whom the young readers identify with, send the message home to children that they can succeed, that the monsters in their lives can be slain, injustice will be punished for perpetrators and remedied for victims, and life’s obstacles can be triumphed over (Swan, Meskill, DeMaio, 1998:103). Cartoons on the other hand fail to address a child’s real fears because they focus on group action rather than a single protagonist. Furthermore, they tend to enhance the fears of children by repeatedly portraying individuals who tried to make it outside the group and failed. But threats to society are adult fears whilst personal threats are child fears as they struggle to survive in society. Another shortcoming is that by promoting the message that individual actions are bad whilst group actions are good, cartoons may be teaching children to succumb to group action without examining their personal beliefs and values. Such an orientation will be tragic for a child who finds himself under pressure to join an anti-social group such as drug users or robbers.

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3.1.5 Soap Operas for Women The story is told of a woman who gave professional thieves the chase after they had made off with her furniture, including her television set. Her anger was appeased when the thieves negotiated with her and offered to give back her television set which she accepted. Asked by reporters why she had risked her life and that of her 19-month baby in pursuit of thieves only to retrieve a television set, she said, “anyone who deprives a woman of her soap operas is asking for trouble” (Fowles, 1992:157). Soap operas, which make up 43 percent of network daytime broadcasts in the United States, are the dominant form of entertainment for most women who comprise two-thirds of the audience. But why have soap operas become so popular with women? To arrive at an answer, it will be necessary to consider how soap operas developed in the first place.

3.1.5.1 The history and economics behind soap operas Historically, soap operas were borne out of the need to re-condition society, after the two world wars, on the patriarchal model which was disturbed by the wars. After World War I, white war veterans returned home to find out, much to their annoyance, that blacks and women had occupied their jobs! Trade unions at the time were also demanding a family wage for white skilled workers which meant women and children did not need to work, while industrialists also saw the families of workers as markets for their consumer goods (Brown, 1994:41). As an adjunct to the pressure on women to get out of the workforce in order to give men a chance, soap operas were designed to conform to a

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domestic setup that imprinted upon the mind of the workingman a conservative point of view with the home now being depicted as a minipatriarchal system. This system was modeled after the Victorian Suburban patriarchal house (ibid). Coupled with the pressure on women to vacate the workplace was the desire by broadcasters in the United States “to reach women in the home during the otherwise dead hours when there was no other programming” (Brown, 1994:42). Their European counterparts who operated a noncommercial broadcasting system did not share this desire. So how was this desire to reach women converted into reality? This can be explained by Hegemony theory, which sees the establishment of a dominant culture as involving a changing coalition of elites who utilize complex cultural elements to hold on to a power base. In order to achieve this, the elite coalition begins by integrating aspects of the subordinated culture into a form of popular culture, which makes the subordinated culture to recognize these aspects and identify with them. Thereafter, they begin to utilize and to derive pleasure from the dominant exploitative culture. By so doing, they contribute to their own exploitation (Brown, 1994:40). In the development of the soap opera genre under media hegemony, it needed to fulfill a set of criteria. Firstly it had to attract and maintain a certain audience within whom it will establish loyalty. This audience turned out to be women. Capturing the female audience was achieved by harnessing their interests and desires and by appreciating the context in which women would use media. Creators of Soap operas also took into consideration the changing roles of women in society and included characters such as the ‘liberated woman’ in a bid to reflect all classes of women.

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Soap operas also manage to sell the products that engineered their production as well as a national culture and an ideological system. Thus, even though soap operas include a resistive discourse, the dominant discourse always wins out. Hence, soap operas may include issues such as rape or violence against women, but instead of concluding that the problem is systematic which will then constitute a threat to patriarchy or capitalism, it would rather be handled as an individual problem requiring individual solutions to enable the dominant discourse to win out. Besides, as noted by John Fiske, the dominant discourse belittles structural issues in society such as gender, class, race, age and other class distinctions and places all responsibility on the individual for being or not being successful. In so doing, social and structural compositions of society as definers of meaning are overlooked.

3.1.5.2 The literary heritage of soap operas. The literary heritage of soap operas, which were first broadcast on radio in the 1930’s, may have come from women magazines, newspapers or both. Soap operas share some similarities with woman magazines, which contain continuing serials, and features to which women can look up to for probable situations and emotional dilemmas that they may encounter in life. Magazines contain an ample supply of advertisements as well as problem pages that offer advise to women which are akin to the provision of advice on the early radio soap operas, an activity which still continues on televised soap operas today. Past newspapers and magazines serialized

novels, including The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens in Britain, which

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was published in 1836, and in France, Eugene Sue’s feuilletons (Brown, 1994:43) Also, serialized fiction, such as the ones authored by Mary Jane Holmes and Augusta Evans Wilson in the nineteenth century are said to have made a great impact on Anglo-American soap operas. These novels had a domestic orientation that focused on the problems and suffering of women within the confines of the home. The story paper, another serialized form of fiction in the United States such as ‘The hidden hand’, which featured heroines and magazines such as the 1912 issue of ‘Ladies World’, which featured a young woman on its cover with the caption, “One hundred dollars if you can tell us what happened to Mary’ are also some of the ‘ancestors’ of the soap opera genre (Brown, 1994:44)

3.1.5.3 The first soap operas The first soap opera was modeled after an Ivory campaign to sell soap in 1923, which utilized a comic strip format depicting the ‘Jolly Family’, whose life decisions and activities revolved around soap (Brown, 1994:44). A research study conducted by Proctor & Gamble in the United Studies revealed that a similar family narrative could be used to successfully conduct a broadcast campaign. The services of Irna Philips, credited with being the mother of the genre, was sought to write a serial that featured ‘The Suddses’ in ‘Painted Dreams’, which was run daily for 15 minutes in the 1930’s for a short while. A second serial from the same author, entiltled, “Today’s Children”, replaced it. These came to be known as selling dramas because the soap pitch was written into them. Other soap operas; ‘The Romance of Helen

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Trent, Mary Noble, Backstage wife, and ‘Our Gal Sunday’ by Frank and Ann Hummert focused on the feelings of women. Philips adopted this strategy in her next serial drama, ‘The Guiding Light’ which saw the entrenchment of the genre in the world of broadcast (Brown, 1994:45). Consequently, soap operas were built into the needs of the capitalist economy that necessitated that women stay at home to meet the emotional needs of husband and children and concentrate on reviving the collective energy of the male labor force to sustain capitalism. As a genre, it flowered on radio in answer to the seclusion of women at home and the desire to cultivate them as consumers of domestic products. Sixty –four soap operas, lasting 15 minutes, were broadcast on radio in 1940 in the United States each weekday. These evolved into television productions in the 1950’s that were stretched to a one-hour format by 1973 in a bid to reach the audience with advertisements for longer periods of time (Brown, 1994:46). The audience for the genre grew at an alarming rate, with over a 100 million people watching soap operas in the United States alone in 1990.

3.1.5.4 The content of soap operas One aspect of soap operas that make them endearing to a large number of women is its adoption of a multiple plot system with a large number of characters who mirror people from all walks of life. Most often, these characters resolve their problems from a different point of view lending credence to the idea among viewers that problems in life can be tackled from different perspectives. This is a far cry from the formula of its literary heritage, the magazine problem page, which used to provide only a single hegemonic solution to problems of audiences.

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Soap operas also differ from Hollywood productions and other narrative forms in the sense that, they do not provide one hero with whom the audience can identify with. Identification with characters in narratives is normally achieved by providing one or a few main characters from whose point of view events in the story are understood and with whose feelings the audience identifies with. Various camera shots collectively called ‘point of view shots’ are used to achieve this: the eye line match depicts the main character staring off screen to be followed by a shot that brings to the viewer what the character is looking at, the shot-counter shot technique depicts first one person, then a second person talking or looking at one another (Brown, 1984:51). Soap opera viewers are more likely to engage in an implication with characters, rather than identification. With this kind of reading, the audience may become involved with a character but retreats whenever events around that character become unpleasant and bonds with another character with more pleasant circumstances. With implication reading, there is no loyalty to any character; it is a reading strategy under the control of the audience who experiences active pleasure from it. Another reading strategy associated with soap operas is the adoption strategy, where the audience literary adopts its characters as a kind of family, the bad as well as the good, and then relates to the soap together with its characters along familial lines. The profile of female characters normally changes over the years to reflect the changing roles of women in society. Hence, as more women entered the workforce, more women entered the workforce on stories depicted by soap operas, which featured businesswomen, research scientist, surgeons and psychiatrist among others. In a bid to attract younger viewers, some soap

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operas, such as general hospital, included younger characters and more daring plots. Soap operas are also sensitive to the sentiments of viewers and try to mirror those sentiments in their productions. When 90 percent of the letters received from the audience expressed disapproval at an interracial marriage on ‘Days of our Lives’ in the 1970’s, the relationship broke up. However, when in 1988 an interracial relationship was featured on ‘General Hospital’, it blossomed into marriage because only 65 percent of letters expressed disapproval.

3.1.5.5 Soap operas in the lives of women. Soap operas serve psychological needs in women in a way that no other genre can fulfill. Dramatic time in soap operas mimic reality in the sense that they depict events dictated by time such as the maturing of soap opera characters, the relationships that come and go, losing and regaining of health amongst others. This is in contrast to situation comedies and action /adventure films where time stands still and relationships are stagnant. Coupled with this is that most soap operas are screened daily and women come into contact with the characters more often than they do with friends and other people in real live. The result is that some viewers fail to distinguish between characters and the actor and actresses that perform them. An outraged viewer slapped, actress Eileen Fulton, who played the evil part of Lisa Shea, on “As the World Turns”. Another viewer, a parishioner of a Methodist church parish where the actress’s father is the minister, wrote to the minister on the bad conduct of his

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daughter after she acted a part in which she was involved in an obscene affair with another character (Fowles, 1992:168). Consequently, networks receive a flood of congratulatory messages when a favorite actress gets married on soap opera and sympathy cards when a character dies. Some viewers go even further by writing letters offering pieces of advice to their heroines and praise for good action or behavior. Mary Cassata, a researcher, explained this phenomenon to be due to the intimate knowledge that the audience gain on characters because they have access to their innermost thoughts and motivations, a privilege that is hardly found in the closest of relationships (Cassata & Skill, 1983:31). Hence women experience soap opera characters in a way that is not felt to be outside reality and thus become attached to the character as if she existed in real life. Renata Adler, a cinema critic, in spite of her sophistication and knowledge in the field of cinema did fall prey to bonding to the fictional characters on soap operas. Explaining her predicament, she said, “I saw the characters in the soaps more often than my friends. It had a continuity stronger than the news.” (Fowles, 1992:169). A soap opera actress explaining why the viewers treat them as if they were the actual characters they acted on television said “We are in their living rooms five days a week, leading a continuous life, so we achieve a kind of reality” (LaGuardia, 1974:126). This explains one of the psychological functions of soap operas: they extend the universe of women by peopling it, something that modern life with its tendency for isolation and anonymity has failed to accomplish. Since human beings are social in nature and have the ability to participate emotionally and culturally in larger groups, their desire to widen their private

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world, especially if they are unemployed and also deprived of their families during the day, is very great. Consequently, soap operas expand the private world of viewers, and give them something to think about with little emotional investment.

3.1.5.6 Soap Operas, good or bad? Nathan Katzaman, a researcher in his assessment of soap operas, said, “Soap opera characters have replaced neighbors as topics of gossip. To some extent, the program has replaced gossip itself” (Fowles, 1992:170). Soaps have a tendency to displace reality and hinder the desire of the audience for straight news, which is important as a tool of societal surveillance. Surprisingly, when soap opera shows where interrupted to give news reports that Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan had been shot in 1981, the audience expressed hostility that their program had been interfered with. The audience harassed television networks with repeated calls with one of them threatening television workers with bodily harm if the Pope’s story was not taken off the air! (ibid). On the other hand, psychotherapists are finding soap operas useful as a point of entry into the minds of troubled patients, especially those who are highly defiant to discussions on awful experiences in their lives. Normally, these patients open up by identifying with the experience of the soap opera characters that inhabit their minds. Ann Kilguss, a Psychiatrist, has found this strategy to be helpful, saying, “from the program, one works back to the individual and her concerns.” She cited as an example a defiant patient who confessed to having had an abortion after hearing about a soap opera abortion (Fowles, 1992:172)

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In addition, when pap smear tests were repeatedly mentioned on the soap opera ‘Guiding Light’ over several months, it increased the awareness of women that it is a test for cervical cancer (Fowles, 1992:173).

3.1.6 Music (MTV) for the Youth. Music on television is like bringing together two volatile objects; it is more like pouring petrol on fire. This is because both music and television are considered agents of socialization in their own right. So what happens when these two potent agents of socialization are merged together as one medium? Is it simply a viewing experience with the addition of music or it is a listening experience with the addition of images? However, no matter how one experiences music on television, it cannot be disputed that the visual information viewers gather from the images and the narratives are more likely to impact strongly on the adoption of attitudes, values and opinion of reality. Besides, music viewing, unlike listening to music on radio or a sound system is a foreground rather than a background activity requiring more concentration. It is impossible to view music and study, work, socialize or read at the same time. Research carried out on music videos appear to indicate that, in spite of the visual information, it is the music, rather than the pictures, around which pleasure is centered. This may be due to the fact that the pleasures derived from music can be realized from audio as well as audiovisual equipment. Besides, ever since the first musical recordings were made, people have been listening to music for years and have come to conclude that music is something meant for the ears rather than the eyes. The advantage of music on television may be its ability to bring both artist and music to the viewer, which is similar to

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watching a live musical performance. This, then, is like going back to ancient times, when music and artist were always presented together until modern technology made it possible to record music and thus separate the work of the artist from himself. This is much like the difference between television and print. Just as the discovery of writing made it possible to separate the speaker from his words, the discovery of audio recording made it possible to separate the musician from his songs, but television rich in ethos and pathos, reconnects the author with his material, thus paving the way for secondary orality. Hence, with the advent of music on television, it is not only the lyrics of a song that are important but the images accompanying the music tell their own stories as well. In 1986, Brown et al. in a study of 12-15 year olds discovered that above 80 percent of the group under study viewed music on television, whilst another study by Christenson in 1992 showed that 75 percent of 9 to 12 year olds also viewed music on television. Other studies indicate that between 35 to 40 percent of adolescents watch music on television daily (Christenson & Roberts, 1998:39).

3.1.6.1 Why do the youth watch MTV? The reasons why the youth watch MTV is similar to the reasons why people use the media in the first place. The gratifications and pleasure derived from music either creates or contributes to the most intense peak periods of life, whether they are moments of celebration and joy or moments of sadness and loss. According to Lull, “music promotes experiences of the extreme for its makers and listeners, turning the perilous emotional edges, vulnerabilities,

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triumphs, celebrations, and antagonisms of life into hypnotic, reflective tempos that can be experienced privately or shared with others” (Lull, 1992:1). Music is the salt of the emotions. Just as salt makes a good meal tastier, and a bad meal tolerable, music makes a good mood better and allows the youth to tolerate or escape from bad ones. Music caters for the cognitive needs of the youth, provides diversion, serves as a social utility and as a means of withdrawal, and fosters personal identities (Christenson & Roberts, 1998:43). Cognitive needs: It is not only television news, soap operas, talk shows and situation comedies that provide information. Viewers of MTV normally explain that they use the lyrics to keep abreast on political and economic issues, and are informed about other cultures. The lyrics also provide ‘food for thought’ and help the youth reflect on social issues; for example if racism is the theme of the music, it enables the youth to reflect on it. Also, since most musical themes are on love, they help the youth to reflect on their personal relationships. Diversion: Music serves as a tool for relaxation, escape from boredom and an antidote to tension. Others report getting energized from music, which is not surprising, since in Africa war songs are used to energize warriors and to prepare them for battle. Music also distracts the youth from their troubles, intensifies their mood and enhances the environment of social gatherings. Social Utility: By providing topics for discussion, music serves as a social lubricant and gives families, friends and students

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something to talk about. The universality of western music serves as a tool of identification among the youth, giving rise to youth cultures that then define their class identity by imitating the artist around whom their culture revolves. Thus youth from different parts of the world may find it easy to relate to each other because they belong to the same youth sub-culture inspired by music and artists. Just as lonely women who watch soap operas are likely to form Para social relationships with their characters, youth who are lonely are also likely to form Para social relationships with artists as a compensation for their seclusion. In extreme cases, they may visualize about being involved romantically and sexually with artists. Withdrawal: Just as a husband can avoid social contact with his wife and the rest of the family by burying his face behind the newspaper, the youth can also employ music as a means of insulating themselves from their immediate environment and building emotional walls around themselves. Personal Identity: Most youth also try to seek their identity in musical lyrics and genres. They may identify themselves with a theme or a cause expressed by the lyrics in a song or they may identify with the hairstyle, mode of dressing or the artists general attitude towards life. However, the use of audio equipment among the youth still outstrips the use of video equipment as shown by the table below;

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Table 2.1 Early adolescents use of music and music videos (Christenson & Roberts, 1998:40). MUSIC (%) Do you ever listen to music or watch music 98 videos? How much do you like listening and watching? Do you ever listen or watch in the afternoon? 97 84 60 62 62 VIDEOS (%) 75

How often do you listen and watch in the 72 afternoon? Did you listen or watch last night? Did you listen or watch today before school? 62 51

15 7

The above table is the results of a research on music listening and viewing habits among adolescents in public schools in Oregon, United States.

3.1.6.2 Is Music a Form of Communication? Over the years, some intellectuals have criticized popular music as a form of entertainment and a contributor to culture. Prominent among them is Theodor Adorno, who criticized the homogeneity and vulgarity of mass taste, which is produced under standardized conditions and encourages passive consumption. Propounded in the 1930’s and 1940’s, this view reflects the views of elitist society at the time (Downing, Mohammadi, SrebernyMohammadi, 1995:381). Other critics, with populist views influenced by political economy, despaired that the creative and cultural potentialities of popular music has been corrupted by the corporate entertainment industry.

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Ian Chambers and Lisa Lewis have attempted to explain how the audience actively use music to suit their own needs. According to Ian chambers, popular music is employed in the expression of individual identities, symbolic resistance and leisure pursuits. He sited the examples of how hippies used music at demonstrations, festivals, and various events in the 1960’s to achieve their own ambitions. The Nelson Mandela concert of 1988 is also another example of how popular music was employed in a political and racial battle (Downing, Mohammadi, Sreberny-Mohammadi, 1995:386, 387,388). Focusing on viewers of MTV and fans at musical concerts, Lewis argues that fans participate in creating the meanings assigned to popular music, which is polysemic and makes available many interpretations. The interpretations that ultimately dominate are those produced by the audience (ibid).

3.1.7 The Role of Advertisements in the Family If the need to reach out to women by manufacturers gave birth to the soap opera genre on television and televised sports has become over commercialized because of the need for manufacturers to sell their goods, it becomes imperative for one to examine the impact of advertisements on the family. Do these advertisements really achieve what they are created to accomplish? Are they worth the amount of money spent on their development? Are they a distraction on viewers’ time or they help viewers to select what they want to buy? Children’s commercials seem to be the most successful. About 90 percent of mothers in a study in America said their children sometimes asked for advertised products. In appealing to the deepest needs and longings of

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children, advertisers also appeal to their desire to be the most popular, the best or the first by purchasing a particular product (Fowles, 1992:223). Because children are the most vulnerable to advertising messages, even some companies have tried to use children to influence adult decisions to buy a certain kind of gas by giving out free toy fire trucks with each gas fill up. Obviously, children will nudge their parents into those stations where they will be given free toys (Fowles, 1992:224). Television plays a part in socializing children as consumers through advertisements as well as the nature of the medium itself. A research on British children in the 1950’s where children only viewed the BBC, which carried no advertisements, found out that children who viewed television had more materialistic ambitions than those who did not (Greenfield, 1984:51). Whilst adolescent boys who watched television focused more on what they will have, those who did not focused more on what they will be doing. Besides, a child’s materialistic outlook was found to be directly proportional to his length of experience with television. Obviously, a child’s exposure to the visual images of television instills in him an emphasis on visible and tangible objects and thus consumption in defining his identity and lifestyle (Greenfield, 1984:51). Marshall McLuhan is right, “the medium is the message”! Children also remember jingles, slogans and brand names from advertisements, which influences their choice of products. Over the years, pressure groups, especially in The United States have called for a law insulating children against advertisements aimed at stimulating their consumptive desires and turning them into lobbyist for the purchasing of consumer goods by their families. But such efforts have so far proved in vain since the annulment of advertisements for children will mean an end to the

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half billion dollars that pour in from advertisements yearly to sustain children’s program. Parents and pressure groups therefore had to choose between children’s programs with advertisements or none at all and of course they chose the former. Others are of the view that children are not as gullible as most adults think but learn to see advertisements for what they mean at quite a tender age. A research conducted by Mariann and Charles Winick, Social scientists, in this area showed that even children as young as two years skip advertisements when watching a program (Fowles, 1992:226). In addition, 89 percent of three to 10 year olds could distinguish between advertisements and programs, whilst 65 percent of parents said their three year olds could identity advertisements from programs. Furthermore, of the 20,000 advertisements that each child in the United States is exposed to yearly, only a few push them to nudge their parents to make the corresponding purchases, the only exception being in homes with a high level of hostility where children use demands based on commercials to fuel on-going battles between their parents (ibid). The general notion is that children become critical of advertising messages as they mature, with the exited four year old who is thrilled by advertising messages being replaced by the nine–year old who views them with contempt. “The waves of commercials, season after season and year after year do not shape capitalist stooges but rather highly sophisticated consumers”(ibid). But the child who was bombarded with child commercials soon becomes a teenager who cannot escape the allure of MTV, which has a definite economic function. Being skillfully produced to hold the attention of viewers, they generate revenue through the sale of product advertising, both

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overtly and covertly. Apart from selling commercial products, televised music also functions as a commercial for both music and artist. Music videos have thus being credited with revamping the stagnant revenues of the recording industry in the1980’s (Christenson, Robert, 1998:139). Within the content of televised musical clips, fashion statements and consumer goods such as nose rings and a million dollar yachts are portrayed with the result that musical clips have come to be described as a ‘supermarket of styles’. Thus, most MTV fans after electing to be a member of a musical subculture, be it rap, funk, punk or heavy metal, depend on music videos to learn the trade mark for that culture in terms of hairstyles, clothing, other accessories and the general image of the subculture. Furthermore, boutiques and clothing sections of many stores in the United States play clips of MTV on several monitors depicting clothing and accessories similar to what they are selling (Christenson, Roberts, 1998:140). Thus, music videos covertly advertise the sales of certain consumer products! This is because, product images and fantasies of wealth continue to be the dominant ingredient of images leading to the glorification of luxury and material wealth. Another area where advertisements have exerted a strong influence is the sports genre. When the winter Olympic Games were lengthened from 12 to 16 days to cover three weekends, an additional 43 million dollars was realized by American National basketball Association through advertisements. The American National Football League also included five more 30-second commercials per game, two more teams to the playoffs and extended the week by two weeks in order to increase television time and consequently boost income from advertising (Real, 1996:59).

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It is estimated that in the United States, companies such as Chrysler, General Motors, Philip Morris, Ford, AT&T, Sears, Anheuser Busch, McDonald’s, American Express and the Armed Forces, may spend between 50 to 100 million dollars on advertisements in sports, a phenomenon that has been dubbed the ‘sports media complex’ (Real, 1996:58). The result is sports programs are intertwined with a lot of commercials. One area of sports advertisements that has been of concern to most Americans is the placement of tobacco signs prominently in American stadiums whilst the nation continues to suffer 400,000 tobacco related deaths yearly. Another area of concern is the incessant alcohol advertisements that plague sports programs (ibid). There is no doubt that televised games come packaged and endorsed as products which are sold to the viewer who buys them through his investment of time and attention, and the producer is paid by the advertiser for access to the viewer. The story is no different for Soap Operas since the major incentive behind their production is profit for production companies and market for the sponsors. Through soap operas, manufacturers manage to put their products right under the nose of housewives, who are converted from viewers into buyers and thus help enrich the coffers of production companies. Whilst it takes only 400,000 dollars to produce an hour-long soap for one week in the United States, the cost of the 30-second advertisements they carry which are sold at 30,000 dollars each can amount to 1,200,000 dollars (Fowles, 1992:163). Hence viewing television has been changed from an innocent information, entertainment and fulfillment seeking experience into a

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commodified one where viewers are invited to partake in a wide variety of consumer goods and lifestyles.

3.2 HOW FAMILIES UTILIZE THE CONTENTS OF TELEVISION That television forms part and parcel of today’s families cannot be disputed. It normally occupies a central position, much like a demi-god, around which family members gravitate from time to time to watch their favorite programs. Even the arrival of a television set can lead to changes in traditional family patterns as was observed in an Indian village where women stopped waiting on men to eat after the arrival of the set because they did not want to miss watching television (Lull, 1988:148). Even the time for preparing the evening meal was shifted to a much earlier time by the women who were found to be in a state of great panic and anxiety by 4:00 p.m. to cook the evening meal on time to enable them to watch television (Lull, 1988:153). The fact that the television set is now indispensable to most families has been proved by their reluctance to abandon television once it has made its appearance in the home. Of 120 families who were offered 500 dollars by the Detroit Press to give up watching television for one month, only five families gave in after much coaxing. The same reluctance on the part of families to give up television was reported in experiments in Germany and in England. Members of families that were persuaded to give up the set reported feeling bored, nervous and depressed. They also experienced a rise in domestic violence, smoking, and the use of tranquillizers to calm their nerves. But why did denying these families the opportunity to view television produce such negative effects in family members? This is because, modern families have come to rely on television not only for relaxation but also as a means of structuring a large proportion of

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their experiences. These experiences include loneliness, emotional difficulties, low utilization of time, low incomes, lack of education and negative experiences. The heaviest television viewers are found among lonely people: the divorced, widowed, retired, unemployed or ill. In the absence of healthy and meaningful relationships with other people, television serves not only as a source of information and entertainment but also provides companionship whilst offering an escape from the unpleasant realities of their situation. This is because television offers Para social experiences by presenting lonely people with programs on which they see familiar faces and hear familiar voices that help to foster the illusion that they are in the company of other people. Depressed people and people suffering from debilitating anxieties also use television as an escape from their painful emotional turmoil. Because depression and anxiety that have been masked or kept under control by engaging in other activities suddenly rush to the foe when the victims are unoccupied, they are more likely to rush to television to occupy their time and numb these emotions. Besides in a state of depression or anxiety, most victims lack the willpower and the energy to engage in more active activities and can only watch television to calm their nerves. Furthermore, advancements in modern technology that has resulted in the manufacturing of a lot of time saving gadgets for the home means that people now have more leisure time than they used to in the past. The sweat and energy that would have been poured out weeding the garden and which perhaps could have been more rewarding and relaxing has been taken up by the mower. The housewife spends less time cleaning, washing and cooking because she has a vacuum cleaner, a dishwasher, a washing machine, blenders

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and a whole lot of gadgets to help her cook without much effort and expenditure of energy in the shortest time possible. In the absence of more rewarding activities, most of this free time is spent watching television. Because television offers one of the cheapest forms of entertainment, people in low income groups who cannot afford to attend the theatre, go on holiday tours, buy books and magazines, a VCR and video tapes or participate in sporting events that require capital investments, come to rely heavily on television for entertainment. In addition, people with low education who cannot derive pleasure from novels and plays or activities that require a bit of training also normally use television as their source of entertainment. This is because; television viewing does not require any training or education. Furthermore, most people who have been through negative experiences during the day tend to turn to television for distraction from their moods whilst some youth and children through no fault of their own are sometimes left with no other activity than television viewing.

3.3 IS VIEWING TELEVISION A PASSIVE ACTIVITY? One major criticism of television has been the assertion that it is passive and television viewers will be better off doing something more active. Is television viewing an active or passive experience? To examine the passivity or activity of television, a survey was conducted by comparing television viewing with leisure and sports. The indicators used to determine the passivity or activity of these three pastimes were challenge, concentration, activation, affect and relaxation. But why these indicators?

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3.3.1 Challenge: For one to experience a sense of achievement after participating in an event, it is necessary to feel challenged. The more that one feels challenged, the more the pleasure derived from a sense of accomplishment. The level of challenge also determines the level of activity or passivity of an event. More challenge means more involvement and more expenditure of both mental and physical energy. A low challenge leads to passivity, little involvement in the event and a low level of expenditure of mental and physical energy.

Figure 2.1 (Kubey, Csikszentmihalyi, 1990:122)

From the above figure, it can be deduced that, from the three activities being compared, television viewers experience very little challenge whilst viewing a program as compared to sports and leisure. This means viewers are less involved when they are viewing television than when they are engaged in

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sports and leisure. This may also mean they utilize very little mental and physical energy.

3.3.2 Concentration: Anything that demands a lot of concentration also requires more physical, emotional and mental involvement. Hence, the higher the concentration that one experiences during an event, the higher the degree of participation. The lower the concentration, the higher the passivity.

Figure 2.2 (Kubey, Csikszentmihalyi, 1990:123)

From the above figure, television has the lowest level of concentration during the viewing process as compared to sports and leisure, which have a

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higher level of concentration during the event. This indicates that television is more passive as compared to sports and leisure.

3.3.3 Activation: Activation is the combination of the measurement of several states of people, ranging from a positive to a negative state. Hence, the level of activation incorporates the degree of several states: active-passive, alertdrowsy, strong-weak, excited–bored. A high level of activation indicates a higher level of the positive states of being whilst a low activation reveals a high level of the negative states of being.

Figure 2.3 (Kubey, Csikszentmihalyi, 1990:125)

From the above figure, it can be seen that television has the lowest level of

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activation during viewing whilst sports has the highest. This means that television viewers are more passive, drowsy, bored or week during the viewing process than before and after viewing.

3.3.4 Affect: Affects refers to the mood of people, and ranges from happy to sad, cheerful to irritable, friendly to hostile, and sociable to lonely. The higher the figure for the measurement of affect, the more positive it is. Hence, happy, cheerful, friendly, and sociable moods correspond to higher numerical figures whilst sadness, irritability hostility and loneliness are depicted by lower numerical figures. The figure below shows the levels of affect for television viewing, leisure and sports before, during and after the activity.

Figure 2.4 (Kubey, Csitszentmihalyi, 1990:125)

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From the figure, it can be seen that both leisure and sports start with much lower levels of affect but peak up during the activity and drop significantly after, though not as low as that indicated for television viewing. The affect for viewing television on the other hand, which is higher than for both sports and leisure before the viewing experience, drops during the process of viewing and drops even further after viewing.

3.3.5 Relaxation: The comparison of these three activities will not be complete without a comparison for the levels of relaxation, which is the chief reason why people view television. The figure below indicates that the level of relaxation prior to leisure is much lower than that of television but peaks up during the process and remains relatively stable after the activity. The level of relaxation for sports also starts off at a lower level than that of television, falls during the activity but peaks up steeply after the activity is over. The level of relaxation for television on the other hand starts off higher than that of sports and leisure, rises during the process but falls much lower than that of sports and leisure after viewing is over. This seems to suggest that the recuperative benefits of television last only while the activity is going on but there are no emotional rewards after viewing is over. This then, perhaps explains why people become addicted to television. Whilst the viewer stays glued to the screen, he feels relaxed. But once he leaves the screen, the relaxation wears off. This means he has to stay glued to the screen to continue to feel relaxed and the loss of relaxation once he leaves the screen forces him to go back to view television. In this way, television behaves very much like a drug. Just as the effects of drugs wear off after the

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drugs have left the body so the effects of television wears off after the eyes have been removed from the screen.

Figure 2.5 (Kubey, Csikszentmihalyi, 1990:126)

SYNTHESIS This chapter has attempted to examine how television impacts on the family by examining the various genres and the typical family members that respond to these genres. It has also attempted to compare the benefits derived from television vis –a-vis sports and leisure in order to examine its specific emotional benefits. Generally, whilst an examination of the various genres in relation to the family seemed to point to several benefits, the examination of television viewing in relation to other activities painted a rather gloomy picture. How does one reconcile these divergent findings? Later chapters will address this.

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CHAPTER IV
4.1 AN EXAMINATION OF MEDIA THEORIES IN RELATION TO THE FAMILY A research of this nature that seeks to address the role of television in families in relation to its benefits and disadvantages as well as how families should respond to the contents of television in order not to be shattered by its messages but to utilize them for their own requirements presupposes that the audience under consideration is active. Yet, some of the concerns people have expressed about the impact of television on viewers, which were elaborated in the introduction to this research, seem to suggest the audience might not be active gatekeepers to themselves by sieving out information. So how does one examine and explain the inner dynamics of television as well as its impact on people and how people react to this impact? In which ways does television serve the needs of society that has given it such a central position in the lives of many? Since television viewing is considered as a passive activity by some and as an active one by others, it may be necessary to examine the issue from both passive and active theoretical models.

4.1.1 The passive or linear theoretical models. The passive or linear models of mass communication tend to give excessive power to the communicator, whose messages are meant to modify the state of the receiver by causing certain effects, both desirable and undesirable. These models revolve around Harold Lasswell’s definition of news, which he defined as ‘who said what, through what channel, to whom and with what effects’.

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Variations of the linear model include ‘The Magic Bullet Theory’ and the ‘Hypodermic Needle Theory” (http://www.central.edu/homepages,

2003:1).

4.1.2 The magic bullet theory This theory is a metaphor, which likens the contents of mass media to a magic bullet that is fired from media institutions into the audience, paralyzing them and achieving whatever effect the message is meant to achieve. The magic bullet theory presupposes the media produces uniform effects among the audience, who have no defense against its immense power. An example of this view is the one held by the ‘Frankfurt School of Thought’, who “pessimistically view popular music as the product of a culture industry designed to numb the minds and facilitate the domination and manipulation of the masses” (Downing, Mohammadi, Sreberny-Mohammadi, 1995:379). The ‘couch potato’ who was mentioned in the introduction of chapter I also gives credence to this linear model of television. His assertion that television is meant not to let people think paints television like a magic bullet that paralyses the viewers with its contents.

4.1.3 The hypodermic needle theory Just like the ‘Magic Bullet Theory’, the ‘Hypodermic Needle Theory’ is another metaphor coined to depict the immense power of mass media and the corresponding helplessness of the audience. Media institutions are conceived to be giant hypodermic needles that inject their contents into the audience, modifying their behavior to suit the purposes of their contents. In view of what a hypodermic needle stands for in real life, this is a metaphor that stresses the

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power of the media whilst portraying the audience as a victim who neither attempts to nor has the capacity to resist the power of the media. This hypnotic power of the media was alluded to in the novel Don Quixote before the onset of television or radio or the propounding of media theories to guide the analysis of media impact. Miguel de Cervantes in creating the character Don Quixote, a man whose views on life had been distorted by the influence of the books (and thus media) he read satirized the capacity of the media to brainwash its users (Real, 1989:20). Cervantes describes the state of the character ‘Don Quixote’ as a result of his undisciplined reading of books of romantic chivalry of the past century whose works of exaggerated fantasy he believed wholeheartedly. The most unfortunate aspect of this wholesale believing of the books he read was the fact that they were set in a medieval context that no longer existed but which Don Quixote had come to accept as reality. Thus, he completely lost his sense of judgment because his consciousness was dominated by the fantasy of enchantments, battles, wooing, tempests and other impossible follies. Through the creation of the character Don Quixote, Cervantes illustrated how consciousness can be distorted by undisciplined media saturation in people just like what the hypodermic needle theory strives to explain. But then it is already happening! The conception that the average European has of Africa is based on sensational news clips on isolated images of war, famine and drought sieved out from the more complex reality of life in Africa. Given that television does not only mirror reality in the form of news; which is most often sensationalized, and factual programs, but also provides a

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lot of fantasy in its fictional genres, one stands the danger of becoming a ‘Don Quixote’ if one does not learn to view television critically.

4.1.4 Lazersfeld’s two step or multiple steps flow theory This model whilst accepting the immense power of mass mediated messages goes further to add the role of interpersonal communication in spreading messages from the mass media. It thus provides a link between interpersonal communication and mass communication. According to this model, when opinion leaders receive mass communication messages, they influence their diffusion and acceptance by the rest of society by the importance that they attach to these mass mediated messages

(http://www.central.edu/homepages, 2003:1). In a way, the writers and editors of soap opera magazines fall into this category. After watching soap operas, what this new breed of opinion leaders choose to write on and attach importance to in their magazines as well as highlights in the newspapers will influence what the fans will discuss. The values these magazines find in soap opera characters and the genre as a whole are likely to become the values of individual soap opera viewers. Floating between the linear models of communication and the active audience theories can be found what this writer will term the ‘transitional theories’. They include the following:

4.1.5 Festinger and the Consistency Theories This theory stipulates that people will normally expose themselves to mass mediated messages that are consistent with their beliefs and values. This is an attempt to prevent dissonance, which can result from being exposed to messages that are inconsistent with what one already beliefs, while

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strengthening what one beliefs by confirming such beliefs through selective exposure. This theory therefore views selective perception, selective exposure and selective retention as one way through which the audience appropriates media messages to themselves. If one takes into consideration the fact that the news genre appeals mostly to the adult male whilst soap operas appeal to women as mentioned in Chapter III, then this theory offers an explanation. Soap operas, whose setting is the home, offer values and content familiar to women and experiences on the screen that are very similar to what they experience in every day life. This is why women sometimes confuse characters with the real personalities who staged them. The fact that women were outraged when soap operas were interfered with to give them the ‘hard news’ that Pope John Paul II and President Reagan had been shot, shows that they will not normally expose themselves to such messages but practice selective perception, exposure and retention.

4.1.6 McCoombs and Shaw Agenda Setting Theory This theory sees the media as being responsible for setting the agenda for what people think and talk about through the selection and presentation of news as well as the content of programs that are broadcast. Thus, the media mentally organizes and structures the world for the audience. The audience, apart from learning certain facts from the media also depend on the media to learn the level of importance to attach to each fact; the more the media hammers on a particular issue, the higher the importance attached to it by the audience, the less the media coverage on a particular issue, the less importance attached to it by the audience.

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The agenda setting theory was first examined in relation to voter behavior in the United States. It is based on a research conducted by three sociologists, Lazersfeld, Berelson and Gaudet of Colombia University in Erie County, Ohio, to examine the impact of news on voter behavior during the presidential elections in the United States in 1940 (Bryant, Zillmann, 1986;1). It was discovered that the mass media offers perspectives and views that shape the image of candidates as well as their parties, pinpoint to issues around which the campaigns gyrate and creates the environment and exceptional areas that define any given campaign. Similar findings on the ability of the media to set the agenda were made by Lippmann in 1922 when he postulated that the influence of the media is not restricted to politics and elections but everything beyond immediate personal and family issues. Consequently, he distinguished between the world as it really is which he dubbed the “environment” and the world as we perceive it, which he dubbed the “pseudo-environment” (Bryant, Zillmann, 1986:2). However, the Erie Country experiments revealed some level of resistance on behalf of the individual whose security in what he already believes inures him from the persuasive powers of the media, a situation that gave rise to the “Law of minimal consequences”; a scientific statement that views the media as having limited effects.

4.1.6.1 How News Sets the Agenda It is impossible to think, talk, discuss or reflect on something one does not know about because one has not heard of it. The very fact that it is the media that informs means it tells people what to think about, talk about and discuss simply by informing. Through the choice of events to cover and report

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and those to ignore, television decides the agenda. Furthermore, the airtime given to each news report as well as its position in the news lineup determines its importance for television and for its audience as well. Hence what is of news value to the television reporter becomes of news value to the audience, which is just like transporting the news agenda from the newsroom to the social sphere or the audience. In the sphere of politics, the treatment given to candidates by television sets the agenda of viable candidates and influences their image, which has an effect on the way voters perceive the campaign, the candidates and their choices. Thus, “by focusing coverage on a few frontrunners to the sometimes almost total exclusion of their rivals (in the United States), the news media play a major, albeit implicit role in the selection of party nominees for national office” (Bryant, Zillmann, 1986:10). However, the level of agenda setting on issues by the press has been found to depend on the kind of issue. Obtrusive issues; that is issues with which the audience has personal contacts such as inflation, do not rise on the agenda of the audience when they do so on the media because the media serves as a secondary source of information on such matters. People experience inflation personally in their daily lives. On the other hand, unobtrusive issues on which the audience relies on television to be informed, such as issues on foreign affairs, are greatly influenced by how they are covered and used by television. Here, people have no personal experience with the issue and are dependent on the media for information.

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4.1.6.2 How television sets the agenda in the family There is no doubt that the agenda setting theory is relevant to the family so far as television is concerned. A research in India showed that the arrival of a television set in a farming community changed the “conversation of the boys from farming culture to world views, political issues, films, girls and such” (Lull, 1988:149). Soap operas have been credited with replacing gossip by offering women what to talk about. This means that soap operas set the agenda for discussion for its audiences. The fact that soap operas have spawned several magazines which have a market of 40 million in the United States alone testify to this fact (Brown, 1994:47). These magazines, which include ‘Soap Opera Digest’, ‘Soap Opera Update’ and ‘Daytime Confidential’, point to the agenda setting powers of soap operas. ‘Soap Opera Highlights’ are also published in about a 100 newspapers to give updates to audiences who might have missed out on some shows. In addition, a fan club, dubbed ‘Soap Talk” has a membership of 900 and was buzzed by almost 500 calls from fans within the first week of its establishment (ibid). As seen in chapter III, the agenda setting activity of soap operas are not limited to the social level but have spilled over to the psychological level where some psychologists have learnt to use soap operas to break into a patient’s psyche to stimulate discussion on unpleasant experiences when there is a stalemate in the process of therapy. The youth culture fueled by music on MTV also sets the agenda for discussion among the youth. They influence discussions on clothes, hairstyles, dance steps and ultimately influence what the youth wear and appear like.

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Since some youth also claim to derive information from the lyrics, it follows that this information will set the agenda for discussion. Even children have not escaped this agenda setting function of television. Cartoon characters not only provide topics for discussion amongst children but have exerted a strong influence on the toy manufacturing industry and now define the kinds of toys that are manufactured for children. Most toys, especially the stuffed ones, are modeled after cartoon characters which further goes to strengthen its agenda setting function because as children play with their toys, they see in them their favorite cartoon characters and talk about them. But above all, one aspect of the agenda setting function of television, which needs to be appreciated, is that different agenda are set for different categories of people because people tend to respond to specific genres on television. Hence, there is a kind of ‘inclusion’ and ‘exclusion’ going on in contemporary society based on common interest and shared views in the media. Children are linked together by their common interest in cartoons, whilst excluding their older adolescent brothers or sisters who are also bound with other adolescents by their common interest in music stars. Women are linked together by their common interest in soaps whilst men find company in each other due to their shared interests in sports and news. Hence, one consequence of the agenda setting theory as far as the family is concerned is that it might lead to a fragmentation of interests amongst family members and if efforts are not made to discover television programs that are of interest to all family members, they are likely to grow in divergent ways as far as the television experience is concerned.

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Women cannot discuss soap operas with their husbands. They must rely on other women or soap opera fan clubs for such discussions. The man seeks the company of other men, usually in a bar, to discuss the latest sports game. Children live in their own fantasy world created by cartoons, the characters of which they can now play with, thanks to the toy manufacturing industry, while the youth build a mythical world around pop stars and rock stars for themselves. Hence, if television is to promote communication among family members, they must strive to find a common agenda on television on which all members of the family can talk about.

4.1.7 Knowledge Gaps Theory The knowledge gaps theory recognizes the potential for different levels of media based knowledge to exist between social groups and on diverse issues handled by the media. Since one must have access to media in order to derive information from it, it follows that people in a lower social and economic stratum who cannot afford these media will automatically be denied some information (McQuail, 2000:457). Besides, even within the same economic stratum, there may still be knowledge gaps as a result of differential exposure to contents of media (McQuail, 2000:458).

4.1.7.1 Television, Knowledge Gaps and the Family With regards to television, the issue of knowledge gaps is more critical in the sense that people with access to the medium may exhibit sharp differences in knowledge. This is due to the fact that television programs are highly diversified and attract different audiences.

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In this regard, the differences in knowledge that arise within the family from viewing television are similar to the differences in agenda between members of the family that come from television viewing. It will be unrealistic to expect that children and adults in a family will posses the same kind of knowledge. Such differences are the natural consequences of the differences in age and maturity. The differences that are important in terms of knowledge gaps are the differences between people within the same age group, such as parents, or amongst children within the same age group. As already explained in chapter III, men tend to pay attention to factual information whilst women prefer fiction, notably, soap operas. Consequently, there will be a gap in televisionbased knowledge between husband and wife, and between sons and daughters as a result of differences in their preferences for television.

4.1.8 Stephenson’s Play Theory Under this theory, mass communication content is seen as providing a kind of buffer to the audience against conditions that can result in anxiety. It does this by providing a step in the existential direction, thus providing play and pleasure (http://www.central.edu/homepages, 2003:2). In chapter III, in an attempt to find out the benefits of television, television viewing was analyzed in relation to leisure and sports, both of which are play. This gives credence to the fact that television viewing is more of play than anything else. The ingredients used for this analysis were challenge, concentration, activation, affect and relaxation which are key components of play that determine the fulfillment that one can gain from it. As explained in chapter III, television today replaces the primitive fireplace around which primitive man used to gather to recount the stories of

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the day and to play. Narration and play are therefore intimately bound together and within every narration there is play (Martinez-De-Toda, 2000:57). Today’s technology only superficially distinguishes mediated participation in play from the rites of primitive man.

4.1.9 The Ritual Model of Communication The major way in which people experience television as play is through ritual participation. James Carey propounded the Ritual, Expressive or Articulation Model of Communication in 1975 as an alternative to the Linear Model of Communication. This model views communication from the point of view of sharing, participation, association, fellowship and the possession of a common faith. Thus, the man who shouts at the screen because his football team has won, the woman who expresses joy whilst viewing a soap opera because her favorite actress gets married, the teenage boy who copies the dance steps of Michael Jackson as he watches M.T.V and the child who is thrilled by the victory of his favorite cartoon characters, all ritually participate in television texts. “The social participation of sports fans in mediated sports exhibits a feeling of involvement and an emotional relationship to the game and its outcome” (Real, 1996:41). The active participation of the television audience contradicts the old stereotype of the television audience as ‘couch potatoes’ passively receiving the bullet messages produced by television. Rather, the audience poaches television texts by accommodating them to suit their own purposes. This normally encompasses five levels of activity (Real, 1996: 43).

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At the first level, the audience cultivates a certain mode of response by paying full attention to televised texts. A particular text is watched several times, normally within a setting that allows social involvement with other fans. Thus soap opera fans know and understand the genre as well as other fans very well. The second level involves the development of a set of critical and interpretive practices that allows the audience to learn the preferred reading practices of fans. It includes playful, speculative, and subjective interpretations that parallel

experiences in their personal lives. This results in the construction of a metatext that supersedes the original text in terms of complexity, and richness. Thus fans do not take the text at face value but go beyond it to create their own meanings. This happens a lot with popular music where listeners appropriate the words to suit their own situation. Thirdly, the consumers of media products become active in the sense that their activities influence the contents of media. An example of this is how a mixed marriage on a soap opera ended in divorce because the audience did not approve of the marriage (see chapter III) Fourthly, there is a spin off of other cultural products from the contents of media. This can be in the form of T-shirts bearing certain inscriptions from media contents, the creation of soap opera magazines and the manufacturing of toys based on cartoon characters. The fifth level of ritual participation involves the creation of a social community that allows like-minded fans to live in their

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own world where they can share information and enjoy the contents of media that they cherish. Examples of this are the creation of youth cultures around rock stars, the creation of soap opera fan clubs, or the men who gather together in a bar to discuss the latest football game.

4.1.10 The Behavioral Theories The Behavioral Theories, as the name suggests, place a lot of emphasis on the relationship between media and the behavior of those who use them. Once again, Cervantes character ‘Don Quixote’, who decided to practice in person all what he had read epitomizes this view. Don Quixote symbolizes how the media can change ones perception of time and place; “Our Knight errant esteemed all which he thought, saw, or imagined, was done or did really pass in the very same form as he had read in his books” (Real, 1989:21). As a result of brainwashing from the books he had read, Don Quixote took to action: “Finally, his wit being wholly extinguished, he fell into one of the strangest conceits that ever a mad man stumbled on in this world…that he himself should become a knight errant and go throughout the world, with his horse and armor, to seek adventures and to practice in person all what he had read was used by knights of yore” (ibid). Of course, Don Quixote became a misfit because what he sought to practice proofed that he had lost touch with reality. His neighbors were quick to detect the source of his malady: “Those accursed books of knighthood, which he hath, and is wont to read ordinarily, have turned his judgment …Let such books be recommended to Satan” they said, and acted accordingly (ibid). But attempts by his neighbors to exorcise this evil from his life by burning his library of over a hundred volumes failed to redeem Don Quixote from his

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fantasies since his consciousness had been taken over entirely by the books he read. Behavioral theories are not confined to violent or criminal behavior but to various aspects of life. Most often, behaviors that are modeled after a television experience become habitual if found to be useful. Behavioral Theory is valuable in understanding why the youth copy artists, especially musicians that they see on television and even develop youth cultures around them, as explained in chapter III. First of all, peer pressure may force the youth to adopt a certain youth culture by imitating an artist’s mode of dressing, hairstyle and general attitude towards life. If there are rewards in adopting this youth culture in the sense that the youth feels accepted by his peers, it reinforces this behavior. Also, as explained in chapter I, the secularization of the world which has left most families, and for that matter, the youth with no reference points for values makes the media more potent as a market place where values are searched for and assimilated. The youth are more vulnerable in this direction because they are at point in their lives where they seek to form their identities and create a niche for themselves in society. One important behavioral theory that has attempted to explain how television influences behavior is the Social Learning Theory.

4.1.11 The Social Learning Theory This theory has been found to be the most relevant to criminology (http://www.criminology.fsu.edu/crimtheory, 2004:1). Albert Bandura, who proposed that behavior modeling is the process through which especially children learn aggression, propounded it in 1979. According to him, violent tendencies are not hereditary and hence are not genetically determined.

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Rather, they are learned from observing other people in the environment, people who are encountered in one’s personal life and from the media (Bandura, 1976:204). These learned aggressive behavior are reinforced if they reduce tension, build up one’s self-esteem, gain praise, or financial rewards (Siegel, 1992:171). Using a Bobo doll experiment, Bandura was able to demonstrate how children imitated aggression in adults for a rewarded gain. In this experiment, children were exposed to a video clip in which a model repeatedly hit and pummeled the head of a Bobo doll with a mallet. The model hurled down the doll, sat on it punched the nose again and again, flung and kicked it across the room and bombarded it with balls (Bandura, 1973:72). When the children were placed in a room with attractive dolls after the video clip, they were cold and hostile and refused to touch them because a process of retention had occurred. However, when they were shown to another room containing identical Bobo dolls, the motivation phase occurred which resulted in 88 percent of the children imitating the aggressive acts they had observed on the video clip. Eight months after the experiment, 40 percent of the children still repeated the aggressive acts on the video clip. Bandura identified four main processes that are triggered off by exposure to violent or aggressive acts that foster imitation or modeling of such behavior. These include; attention, retention, motor reproduction, and motivation.

4.1.11.1 Attention For one to learn by observation, one must be attentive to what is being observed. Perceiving and attending to the significant features of the modeled

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behavior achieve this (Allen & Santrock, 1993:139) In the Bobo doll experiment, the children were keen witnesses to the assaults carried out on the Bobo doll which enabled them to reproduce what they observed. In addition, televised violence attracts attention because it is simple, distinctive, prevalent, useful and depicted positively (http://www.afirstlook.com/archive, 2004:3). Simple: A quick punch to the face is simpler and easier to accomplish than drawn out negotiations and efforts at reconciliation in a conflict situation. Aggressive acts drives home the message that one is angry more quickly than words. Distinctive: Violent acts on television are characteristic in the sense that they do not fit into the everyday life of viewers. Pro-social behavior such as delayed gratification, control of anger, sympathy, and sharing appear mundane in contrast to violent sequences, which are exciting. Prevalent: The prevalence of violence on television makes it impossible for one to miss them. More than 80 percent of prime-time programs and 90 percent of weekend cartoon programs in the United States contain violent acts. Useful: Television programs normally present violence as a preferred choice in solving problems and a handy strategy for life. On the average, half of the major characters experience 5 to 6 acts of overt physical violence within an hour. These violent acts are rarely followed by pain, medical help and suffering which makes them symbolic. “Symbolic violence demonstrates power, not therapy; it shows who can get away with what against whom. The dominant white men in the prime of life are more likely to be victimizers rather than victims. Conversely, old, young and minority women, and young boys are more

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likely to be victims rather than victimizers in violent conflicts” (Bryant, Zillmann, 1986:26). Positive: On television, the hero who carries out an aggressive act to save a beautiful woman gives a positive cast to violence. Both heroes and those they save through aggressive acts are normally physically attractive and are portrayed as good people that justify the aggressive act. Hence, the end justifies the means no matter how many ‘nonentities’ die in an effort to save those whose lives matter on television programs.

4.1.11.2 Retention It will be difficult to reproduce any behavior if what has been observed is not stored in one’s memory. Hence, before modeled behavior can be reproduced, children normally code the information into long-term memory from where this information can be retrieved when needed A simple verbal description of the behavior that was modeled constitutes retention (Allen & Santrock, 1993:139). Hence, memory is a cognitive process that allows an observer to code and retrieve information. The children who witnessed the Bobo doll experiment were able to reproduce the aggressive acts because they had coded and stored it in their memory.

4.1.11.3 Motor Reproduction This refers to the ability of the observer of modeled behavior to physically reproduce the violent behavior he or she has retained. This is based on the physical capabilities of the observer to learn the modeled behavior and thus possess the physical capabilities of the modeled behavior. The ability to

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learn how to ski, ride a bike or swim is an example of motor reproduction. In the Bobo doll experiment, the children had the physical ability to carry out the violent acts that they had witnessed on the video clip.

4.1.11.4 Motivation and Reinforcement A learned behavior will be useful to the practitioner if only the practice of such behavior is linked with positive results. The children in the Bobo doll experiment saw the adults being rewarded for their aggressive acts so they carried out similar aggressive acts in the hope of receiving positive reinforcements. Bandura was of the view that if an early diagnoses of aggression was found in children, it would be possible to teach them to refrain from becoming adult criminals. In addition, family members, the media and the environment sometimes reinforce aggressive behavior in children (Bandura, 1976:206208). Of these three sources of reinforcement, the family was found to be the most prominent since children tend to use the same aggressive acts that they observe their parents using when dealing with other people. Thus, the boy whose father repeatedly beat up his mother is likely to become an abusive parent and husband (Siegel, 1992:170). Environmental experiences are another source of social learning of violence in children. Consequently, people who live in high crime environments are more likely to respond violently than people residing in environments characterized by a low crime wave (Bandura, 1976:207). A similar correlation between the environment and crime in individuals was also observed by Shaw and McKay’s theory of Social Disorganization. This theory propounded that a neighborhood characterized by cultural conflict, decay and

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insufficient social organizations contributed significantly to criminality (Bartollas, 1990:145).

4.2 TELEVISION AND SOCIAL LEARNING Television has a tendency to reward violence and thus provide reinforcement for violent behavior in children. Television also graphically illustrates violence, which is expressed as acceptable behavior for heroes who never get punished for it. Since many televised material exhibit aggression as a prominent feature, children who are highly exposed to television are likely to show a comparatively high incidence of hostility by imitating televised aggression (Berkowitz, 1962: 247). For example, a report in Cloward & Ohlin in 1960 said homicide cases tended to increase significantly after a heavy weight championship fight. A number of deaths and aggressive acts have also been linked to violence on television. John Hinckley, who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, made his attempt after watching the movie ‘Taxi Driver’ fifteen times. In 1974, a group of girls in California, United States, raped a girl with a bottle. They modeled their behavior after the film, ‘Born Innocent’ in which four girls raped another girl with a bottle. Giving their testimony in court, the girls claimed they had watched ‘Born Innocent’. One social learning theorist, William Benson, found out that adolescents who watched excessive television during their childhood had a 47 percent higher rate than those who watched below average televised material to become adult criminals (Centerwall, 1993:70-71). In addition, even a single exposure to violent acts on television can be remembered by a child for up to 6 months whilst rehearsal of these acts through daydreaming, imaginative play and other aggressive fantasies

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increases the possibility of the child memorizing the aggressive act (Bryant, Zillmann, 1986:48). Besides, studies to determine whether children understand the meaning of televised aggression in the context of the narrative in which it occurs have revealed that viewers aged 8 years and below are not able to “infer implications and linkages between scenes in television programs”(Bryant, Zillmann, 1986:49). Therefore, most youngsters do not understand the reasons and outcomes of aggressive acts within the narrative structure in which they occur which increases their chances of modeling after such acts. Televised violence also promotes symbolic modeling, where viewers make a generalization of one violent behavior to similar behaviors and circumstances. An aggressive act used by a character on television to resolve interpersonal problems is seen symbolically as the most effective and preferred way of resolving general problems. Studies of televised aggression indicate symbolic modeling to be the most common outcome of viewing violence on television (ibid)

4.2.1 Interactions Between Televised Violence, the Family and Society Social Learning Theory teaches that people need to be motivated to model aggressive behavior that they have observed. Motivation is provided by gains or rewards which tone down inhibitions to enacting the aggressive act in real life. External regulators such as social norms, punishment, reprisals, possibility of retaliation, guilt feelings and anxiety associated with aggressive behavior serve as inhibitions to aggressive behavior. Their absence increases the chances of modeling of aggressive behavior in people. Generally, reinforcements for aggressive behavior include pre-observation, vicarious,

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post -observation and self generated reinforcements (Bryant, Zillmann, 1986:50).

4.2.1.1 Pre-observation Reinforcement The degree to which one’s social environment rewards aggression is a key determinant to its enactment. Children who are already predisposed to aggression are more likely to model televised aggression. This predisposition is based on sex and family attitudes. Studies carried out by Bandura have shown that boys are more predisposed to performing televised aggressive acts than girls. Other research studies by Chaffee and McLeod showed that the positive relationship between viewing televised violence and aggressive behavior in children is weaker among those whose parents disapproved of or punished aggressive behavior (ibid).

4.2.1.2 Vicarious Reinforcement Studies have also revealed that television violence which is portrayed as justified, acted out in self- defense, rewarded and not punished is more likely to elicit post-viewing aggression than one that is punished, not rewarded or seen to be unjustified. Other studies have shown that viewers who belief television violence is capable of achieving the goals for which it is performed are more like to use aggression as a means of achieving their own goals. Ultimately, the more televised violence is portrayed as an effective means of achieving one’s goals, the greater the reinforcement for modeling by viewers.

4.2.1.3 Post-observation Reinforcement Rewards or promise of rewards promote copying of aggressive behavior on television by children. Studies have shown that rewards on their

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own could promote aggression even without any prior observation of aggression.

4.2.1.3 Self-generated Reinforcements People tend to order their own behavior around self-created regulations. They normally develop their own standards of behavior by which they experience a sense of self worth when they operate in accordance with these standards. Actions contrary to these standards may produce feelings of self-devaluation. Actions that can produce feelings of self-devaluation include intentionally inflicting pain on people. The guilt arising from such actions can however be dispelled through cognitive restructuring to justify what would normally lead to feelings of self-devaluation. Examples of cognitive restructuring are euphemistic labeling, palliative comparisons, and displacement or diffusion of responsibility. By employing euphemistic labeling, the aggressive act is converted from a self-devaluation experience to one of selfsatisfaction and self worth by conferring a respectable status to it by labeling it as an act of high moral principle. An example of this is how some men justify wife battering by labeling it as an act destined for the well being of their wives by disciplining them and leading them away from the path of waywardness. When palliative comparisons are made, the violent act is compared with more deplorable acts committed by other people. Thus, the man who batters his wife because he suspects her of being unfaithful will compare his actions with another man who murdered his wife for committing adultery.

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By displacing and diffusing responsibility for their violent acts, people can also escape its self-devaluation consequences. Hence during the North Atlantic Slave Trade, slave traders justified their actions because they claimed it was divinely ordained since somewhere in the Bible God had cursed Africans to be “drawers of water and hewers of wood”. Another strategy is to shift blame from the perpetrator of violence to the victim. Thus, the man who batters his wife shifts responsibility from himself to his wife by claiming “she made me do it by making me jealous”. By dehumanizing the victim, perpetrators of aggression can experience self worth. This is normally achieved by labeling the victim as animalistic or sub-human. The North Atlantic Slave Trade during which millions of Africans were shipped to North America as slaves is an example of this. Those who indulged in the act perceived Africans to be less human than their European and North American counterparts.

4.3 CRITICIMS OF SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY One major criticism of the Social Learning Theory is that it completely ignores a person’s biological state, which can predispose one to violence. Biological Theorists claim that existing biological differences in individuals due to brain, genetic and learning differences are not accounted for by the Social Learning Theory (Jeffery, 1985:239). Hence, the biological

preparedness for people to learn and the ability of the brain to process information that are critical to the social learning theory has been largely ignored.

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Biological Theorists say if different individuals should witness a hanging or a violent murder, for example, the responses that will come from the autonomic nervous system will be normal. These include increases in heart rate and blood pressure, nausea and fainting. These symptoms are not learned but are partially inherited. Some critics have also argued that the children used in the Bobo doll experiment were manipulated to respond aggressively to the video clip. Other critics find the experiment unethical and morally wrong because it trained the children involved to be aggressive. Besides, many studies have also shown no correlation between televised violence and aggressive behavior in children whilst others believe that violence on television actually decreases aggression in children and has a cathartic effect. In a comparative six-week study of teenage boys who were exposed to violence on television and another group of teenage boys who watched only non-violent shows, Feshback and Singer, social researchers found out that those involved in violent acts were less likely to exhibit aggressive behavior. According to them, the study demonstrated how viewers relate to characters involved in violent acts and by so doing, they are able to purge themselves of all aggressive thoughts and feelings which makes them less aggressive than they would have been if they had not viewed the violent acts (Feshback & Singer, 1971:247). Cooke, another researcher, believes television is being made a scapegoat by the Social Learning Theory because the public needs to justify the violence they see in others. He is of the view that far from being a promoter of violence, television offers positive education and role models. “If violence on television causes people to be more aggressive, than shouldn’t the

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good hearted qualities on television cause its audience to be kinder to others (Cooke, 1993:19)?”Cooke is of the view that television can become a deterrence rather than a promoter of violence if equal attention is paid to its positive aspects.

4.4 THE STALAGMITE THEORIES The Stalagmite theories point to a cumulative effect of television on viewers (http://www.central.edu/homepages, 2003:2). Hence, each televisionviewing episode produces a tiny effect that builds up gradually over time into a significant effect, much like the way tiny drops of calcium carbonate build up over time to form stalagmites. The Cultivation Theory is an important stalagmite theory because they examine the effects of television in relation to the length of the relationship between viewers and television.

4.4.1 Cultivation theory According to the Cultivation theory, exposure to television over time leads to common conceptions of reality among heterogeneous groups of people. This happens amongst heavy television viewers. Thus, television nurtures certain predispositions and preferences, which before its advent were derived from other primary sources of socialization. Television in this regard, has become analogous to religion in the sense that the two share a similarity in social function as a result of their continual replication of patterns, which comprise of myths, ideologies, facts, relationships, etc in an attempt to define the world and grant legitimacy to the social order. Story telling seeks to illuminate the concealed relationships of life and society and that function has been taken over by television today which tells most of the stories to most of the people most of the time (Bryant, Zillmann,

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1986:18). In doing so, television imposes a homogenous process through the coherent use of images and messages, which leads to the cultivation of common perceptions of reality among a heterogeneous public. In other words, “massive long term and common exposure of large and heterogeneous publics to centrally produced, mass-distributed, and repetitive system of stories” (Bryant, Zillmann, 1986:20) homogenizes their outlook on life thus dissolving authentic publics. Heavy television viewing, among other things, shapes the outlook of viewers on sex, stereotypes on gender and race, the family, religion, health, science, politics, and educational achievement. Thus, “Cultivation is the teaching of a common world view, common roles and common values”(http://www.utexas.edu/coc/journlism, 2003:3)

4.4.1.1 The multi directional process of cultivation The process of cultivation is not monolithic but a subtle and complex process that intermingles with other social pressures, resulting in an interaction between television and its publics. These social pressures, which may be demographic, social, personal or cultural, influence the cultivation process that arises from viewing television. Hence, cultivation is not unidirectional but multidirectional as a result of the impact of socio-economic, religious, cultural, educational, racial and many other factors that determine how a particular viewer is affected by the cultivation process. In today’s media saturated world, most children are born into a home dominated by television, which sometimes functions as a baby sitter with the result that children make their first contact with television even before they

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begin to talk and several years before they begin to read! Television thus, can become for most children, their major source of cultural participation. When viewing molds and encourages their continued attention, the messages are likely to reiterate, confirm, nourish and thus cultivate their values and perspectives in life (Bryant, Zillmann, 1986:24). Hence, television, independently can contribute to the generation and maintenance of certain outlooks or beliefs as a result of cumulative exposure in heavy viewers. A research study on adolescents by several research scientists showed that their attitudes were influenced independently by television over time whilst subsequent viewing was influenced by their belief structure (ibid). An important consequence of cultivation is that, because the perception of the audience on reality is based on what is screened on television, these perceptions normally have no bearing on real life situations. For example, on a week’s program of prime time episodes, viewers are exposed to the apparently realistic but normally phony representation of 30 police officers, 7 lawyers, 3 judges, a single engineer or scientist and a few blue-collar workers. These episodes are normally dominated by threats and a crime wave 10 times as widespread as what pertains to real life (ibid). Hence, when heavy viewers and light viewers of television are asked identical questions, heavy viewers normally provide answers that reflect the world of television; heavy viewers will put the chances of being involved in some kind of violence in a week at 10 percent, whereas the real life answer is 1-percent. Consequently, due to their misconception of reality as a result of the brainwashing they have received from television, heavy viewers sometimes become paranoid, and develop a mean/scary world syndrome as a result of the violence they see on television. They come to believe that people cannot be

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trusted and that most people are just looking out for themselves (Bryant, Zillmann, 1986:28) The violence saturated world of television, which presents differential ratios of symbolic victimization of women and minorities results in a corresponding cultivation of different levels of insecurity in them. This hierarchy of fears produced in women and minorities through televised violence confirms and perpetuates their dependent status (ibid). Another misconception of reality occurs when heavy viewers transform message system data from television into general hypotheses about issues. Television facts are made the basis of a wider worldview thus turning television into an authoritative source of values, ideologies, perspective, beliefs and images (ibid). Heavy viewers also tend to score high on sexism than light viewers because heavy viewers make extrapolated assumptions based on how women are represented on television. They absorb the implicit messages that women possess more limited capabilities and interest than men.

4.4.1.2 Cultivation and mainstreaming As explained above, the process of cultivation is a multidirectional ongoing dynamic process that occurs between the messages that heavy viewers receive from television about the world and their own backgrounds. Consequently, it is the impact of the diverse backgrounds of viewers on how they receive televised messages, which accounts for differential modes of cultivation. However, there are instances when the process of cultivation becomes homogenous and people of diverse backgrounds exhibit the same mode of

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cultivation. The homogenization of the cultivation process amongst heavy viewers of different backgrounds is known as mainstreaming

(http://www.utexas.edu/coc/journalism, 2003:8).

4.4.1.3 Mainstreaming When heavy viewers from different demographic groups exhibit a certain commonality of outlooks in contrast to light viewers in those groups, mainstreaming is said to have occurred. Thus, differences, linked to cultural, political and social distinctions of different groups reduce or become deficient amongst heavy viewers (Bryant, Zillmann, 1986:31) This phenomenon lends credit to the belief that television does cultivate common perspectives. Like cotton wool dipped into water, television absorbs the differences amongst groups of people that arise from social, cultural and demographic factors. It is thus a melting pot where people lose their differences and become homogenized. Television’s mainstreaming potential lies in the consistency of its messages which in turn are informed by ideology, underlying values, demography and power relationships (Bryant, Zillmann, 1986:26).

4.5 CULTIVATION THEORY AND THE FAMILY Research on the Cultivation Theory has shown that personal interaction greatly reduces the tendency for individuals to cultivate what is presented on television as reality. For instance, adolescents whose parents watched television with them exhibited small relationships between amount of viewing and seeing the world from the point of view of how it is depicted on television (Bryant, Zillmann, 1986:30)

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Research also established that children who are more integrated into cohesive peer groups were more resistant to cultivation than their counterparts who were not. Therefore, cultivation in individuals is the outcome of how mediated imagery monopolizes the viewer’s source of information. More sources of information prevent dependency on television and undermines cultivation. Consequently, affiliation on the part of the viewer, personal interaction and intervention by parents all reduce cultivation (ibid).

4.6 THE USES AND GRATIFICATION THEORY AND HOW IT RELATES TO THE FAMILY Blumler and Katz propounded this theory in the 1970’s. This theory springs from the functionalist paradigm of the social sciences. It focuses on why people use the media and what they do with the media rather than on what the media does to people. It is therefore in contrast to the ‘Media Effects” tradition which assumes that the audience is homogenous and is helpless in the face of the power of the media. The Uses and Gratification Theory views the use of the media in terms of how it satisfies the social and psychological needs of the audience. The satisfaction of these needs can be acquired from a medium’s content by watching a specific program, from experience with a genre within the medium such as soap operas, from general exposure to the medium such as watching television or from the social context within which the medium is used such as watching television with one’s family. Most often, the social and psychological needs of people influence how they use the media. Even one’s mood can determine the programs that one will watch. A person who is bored will prefer a program that is exciting in

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order to shake off his boredom whilst a person who is stressed will prefer a program that will help him to relax. (McQuail, 1987: 236). People may also derive different gratifications from the same television program. Most often, the needs of viewers are determined by their personality makeup, stages of maturation, their political, economic, religious and social background and their roles in society. The developmental stage of children may make television the preferred medium because children can watch television at any stage of their development but need to acquire the ability to read in order to read newspapers. Thus, children are more susceptible to the influence of television. The needs of the audience that push them to watch television can be grouped into informational needs, the need for identity, the need for social integration and interaction, and entertainment (McQuail, 1987:73).

4.6.1 Informational needs Most often, the audience try to find out about events in their localities, their countries and the world at large by watching news on television. Other programs, such as soap operas and talk shows may provide them with advice on practical matters by offering them opinions and decision choices. The audience may also seek information as a way of satisfying their curiosity, a means to self-education and the sense of security that arises from acquiring knowledge. People can organize their days based on information from television. They can decide to go out with an umbrella if the weather forecast warns of impending rains or stay at home and play indoor games. They may decide to go to the beach or even organize a beach party if the weather promises to be

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bright and sunny. It may determine whether one will invest in the stock market or not based on news on the stock market.

4.6.2 Need for personal identity Due to the vacuum created by the lack of an authentic system against which personal values can be evaluated, television serves as the source for the reinforcement of personal values for the audience. In achieving this, the audience normally identify themselves with ‘a valued other’ on television. Thus, the audience seek models after whom to mold their own behavior on television.

4.6.3 Need for social integration and interaction Television programs, whether news or soaps, normally enable the audience to enter into the lives of others. This enables them to gain an insight into the circumstances of others and to empathize with them if they are in a deplorable condition. By identifying with the circumstances of others through television, the audience gain a sense of belonging. Knowledge about the circumstances of others also provides the agenda for conversation and social interaction. Through the relationships that the audience may establish with television characters and personalities, they find substitutes for real life companionship. By copying the attitude of characters that have the same social roles as they do, the audience can use television as help in performing their own social roles. Since television is a cultural vehicle, being part of it allows one to connect with family and friends.

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Television may be the only window through which many old and sick people, isolated from the rest of the world and denied active participation in society by old age and ill health, may see what is going on in the world and even in the towns and countries that they live. As a result, they experience a feeling of participation that creates an atmosphere of being in touch with the rest of the world, which makes them to feel they are not alone, and hence makes their loneliness more tolerable.

4.6.4 Entertainment Television offers diversion from the daily battles of life for its audience. It helps them to relax and to escape momentarily from the cares of the world. The audience also derives intrinsic cultural and aesthetic enjoyment from television, which they use to fill up time. Entertainments such as football matches, Olympics, are expensive. People save money from cost of air tickets, time to drive or take a bus as well as transportation costs when they watch entertainment on television. These are the inconveniences of entertainment that television allows viewers to overcome by bringing entertainment into their homes. In addition, television allows people to watch entertainment that can have potentially violent consequences such as football and boxing in the comfort and security of their homes. Thus they are protected from the violence that normally characterizes some entertainment activities. Viewing television can also become a source of emotional release and sexual arousal.

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4.7 SOCIAL USES OF TELEVISION James Lull, after undertaking an ethnographic research on television was able to identify several uses to which television and its contents are put. He classified them as the structural and relational uses of television (Lull, 1990: 35-36).

4.7.1 Structural Uses Structural uses of television are made up of environmental and regulative uses.

4.7.1.1 Environmental Television creates a conducive environment for most households, especially for people living alone, by providing background noise, which diffuses the discomfort associated with silence. The characters and personalities on television provide companionship and a pseudo-social world for most viewers whilst entertaining them.

4.7.1.2 Regulative Television contents punctuate time and activity for viewers. Hence activities can be organized before or after the evening news or whilst viewing a soap opera. Mothers can decide to take their kids out for shopping after they have watched the Saturday morning cartoons. Television contents also shape the nature of conversations by providing something to talk about.

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4.7.1.3 Relational Relational uses of television include communication facilitation, affiliation and avoidance, social learning and competence seeking.

4.7.1.4 Communication Facilitation Television facilitates conversation by providing a common agenda for talk. This provides a common ground for conversation as well as an easy entry into conversation. By equipping people with the ability to communicate and keeping them informed, television helps clarify values and reduces anxiety.

4.7.1.5 Affiliation / Avoidance Viewers can use television as a source of affiliation in the family by watching and sharing views on its programs. This can improve both physical and verbal contact within the family by bringing the family together to watch and discuss programs. By so doing, television can help ease tension in the family and serve as a family relaxant, reduce conflict, help to maintain family relationships and strengthen family solidarity. This is because certain programs on television may provide the only opportunity for some children to relate to their parents in a relaxed atmosphere. It may be the only occasion during which very active and outgoing people stay at home with wife and children. For instance in Ghana, most married women claim that their husbands spend more time at home with the family during the telecast of national and international football games. But the same programs can also be used by the family to avoid and to neglect each other. The man can continuously bury himself in news and football programs and avoid talking to his wife and children whilst the woman

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can also bury herself in her soap operas and refrain from any meaningful conversation with her husband.

4.7.1.6 Social Learning Viewers take a cue from television programs as to whether a particular behavior or conduct is legitimate. Thus, by casting a lot of single men and women as happy and independent, television legitimizes the single household and the era of individualism. By using violence as a solution to problems in its plots, television legitimizes violence as an option in the solution of daily problems. Hence people model their behavior after television characters and may take decisions based on the decisions of certain characters that are going through similar problems in the plots in which they have been cast. Television thus becomes a substitute school for learning and information dissemination.

4.7.1.7 Competence /Dominance Television markets several roles in life from which members of the audience may appropriate some to themselves or derive reinforcement for shared or similar roles.

4.8 USES AND GRATIFICATIONS FROM SOAP OPERAS Soap operas have been a major focus of research in relation to the Uses and Gratification Theory. These researches have unearthed a number of uses and gratifications that people derive from soap operas. According to the perspective of Richard Kilborn, (Kilborn, 1992: 75-84) most viewers of soap operas use it as a launch pad for social and personal interaction. They serve as a source of companionship were viewers choose to be alone or are forced to

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endure loneliness. Viewers may experience a cathartic effect through identification and involvement with the characters. Soap operas also offer an escape from the routine of everyday life and serve as a focus of debate on topical issues. In addition, soap operas have also become a regular part of the daily routine of most women and an entertaining reward for domestic work.

4.8.1 Uses and Gratifications from Television Quiz Programs A research carried out by McQuail, Blumler and Brown on the kind of uses and gratifications that people derive from television quiz shows indicated that they gratified needs in the area of self-rating appeal, social interaction, excitement and educational appeal. Self-Rating Appeal: Normally, the audience of a quiz program try to rate themselves by comparing themselves with the experts. They like to imagine that they are on the program and are enthralled when the side that they are supporting outshines its opponent. Quiz programs also remind many in the audience how their school going years were. Basis of Social Interaction: Most often, members of the audience of a quiz program like to compete among themselves as they watch the program and participate very actively in it. Some families also work on the answers together which provides a basis for social interaction. Most often, quiz programs provide a common agenda for all family members by providing them with the same interest. Children also benefit intellectually from quiz programs, which also serve as a common topic for discussion with neighbors.

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Excitement Appeal: The competitive nature of quiz programs provides differing excitements for members of the audience and gratifies certain needs. Some audience members enjoy the excitement of a close finish, others try to guess the answers and derive good feelings when these answers are right. Others mentally get involved in the program, which allows them to forget their problems momentarily. Educational Appeal: The educational value of quiz programs in itself appeals strongly to its audience. Others are gratified to find out that they know more than they thought when they score higher marks than they thought possible while some use it as a learning process to improve upon their knowledge. Quiz programs also stimulate the intellect because the questions serve as food for thought for the audience. Faithful audience members of quiz programs normally develop an attitude of respect and admiration for those on the program.

4.8.2 Criticisms of Uses and Gratification Theory Critics of the Uses and Gratification Theory claim that, since research on it was based on retrospective accounts of people as to why they watch television, the answers are likely to be flawed. This is because viewers may not know why they watched certain programs and may not be able to offer adequate explanation. Hence, they are more likely to mention reasons they have heard others mention. This discrepancy can be remedied by studying people whilst they are engaged in the act of watching. Critics also point out that television viewing can be an end in itself rather than predetermined attempts to gratify certain needs from viewing

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particular programs. They point out that whilst the audience may exhibit some degree of selectivity, television use is most often habitual, ritualistic and unselective. Viewing television may be an aesthetic experience fueled by intrinsic motivation. Some critics also claim the functionalist stance of the “Uses and Gratification theory” is politically conservative. They assert that, the assumption that people do derive some gratifications from any kind of media may lead to a complacent and uncritical attitude towards current media contents. This position also exaggerates the openness of interpretation of television texts and creates the impression that the audience can derive gratification from any program irrespective of its content or preferred reading. Others find the theory to be individualistic and psychological since it does not take into account the socio-cultural context of viewers. It tends to foreground individual psychological and personality factors and backgrounds sociological factors. But as Research Scientist, David Morley pointed out, even though individual differences in media interpretation do exist, subcultural and socio-economic differences do play a role in shaping how people interpret the contents of television. Besides, the theory exaggerates active and conscious choice without taking into consideration that some programs may be forced on some people. An example is a woman who is forced to watch a sports program along with her husband even though she would have preferred watching a soap opera.

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CHAPTER V
5.1 DRAWING CONCLUSIONS Based on what has been presented in the preceding chapters of this research, it is essential to draw inferences on the interactions between television and the family. Most of what has been presented point to the fact that viewing television does have an impact on family members. In trying to relate television viewing and effects on the family, it may be necessary to do a specific analysis based on what programs each family member is drawn to.

5.1.1 How do Soap Operas Affect Women? The fact that men and women are drawn to different genres, whilst the youth and children are attracted to other genres points to an underlying uses and gratifications approach inherent in the use of mass media. These need not be determined by only the felt needs of the individual, based on which he selects a particular genre but may arise from certain inherent factors around which the media user has no control or knowledge of. Women have no control over their genetic composition and socioeconomic factors that draw them to seek out soap operas as a means of extending their social environment, creating a pseudo-social climate and using them as topics for conversation. After all, the female species has been classified as being more emotional than the male species. It is therefore logical that if the female finds herself in an emotionally sterile environment where she has little opportunity to express her emotions, whether hostile or non hostile, she will welcome any avenue that will pave the way for her to express these emotions. Being locked in the house with, perhaps only furniture for company, soap operas provide what exactly meets the emotional needs of women. But

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women’s preference for soap operas should not only be viewed from the social point of view but also from their biological make up. Being more emotional means they have a tendency to cry more, shout more and scream more. Besides, women are credited with talking more than their male counterparts. Soap operas, therefore, give them the opportunity to talk and cry, especially when a favorite character has died thus providing some emotional release. Hence, the observation that soap operas have replaced neighbors as topics for gossip rings true. But herein lays the danger of soap operas. Gossip about neighbors is gossip about reality and whether the outcome is positive or negative, what matters is that one is dealing with concrete issues that concern living beings. The problem with replacing gossip with soap operas is that women have moved from reality into fictional constructions by the media, much like the case of “Alice in Wonderland” who moved from the world of reality into a fictional world. Whereas a little indulgence in the world of soap operas may offer healthy distraction and prove to be relaxing, overindulgence in the fictional world would have dire consequences not only for women but also for society at large. This is because, talking that is based on reality serves as a bridge for people to connect to each other: wives to husbands and vice versa, children to parents and amongst themselves, and families to their neighbors. It is through talking that people make themselves known to each other, make their problems known and in turn find solutions and sympathy. Now, if what women talk about are only about soap opera characters, this displaces the conversation on concrete issues that would have helped them to learn more about each others personalities, the problems their children are going through and what is going on in the neighborhood. Closeness amongst neighbors and friends that is based on discussions on soap operas gives them a false feeling

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of closeness and knowing each other when in actual fact such knowledge is based on fiction rather than reality. This then gives rise to pseudo-relationships based on soap opera characters. The relationships that exist amongst soap opera fans in fan clubs is nothing short of pseudo-relationships since these women do not have an indepth knowledge or true relationship to each other but only that which is based on their common interest in soap opera characters, who in turn are nothing but fictional constructs of the media. This also serves another gratification of women since it enables them to hide who they are and to indulge in relationships with other women without the risk of exposing themselves to criticism, ridicule or harm. Soap opera fan clubs therefore spear women to waste valuable time and resources on issues that are unproductive and short of providing entertainment and diversion do not contribute to their personal, social, academic or economic development. Soap operas have thus become a drug for women much like alcohol, which they use as an escape from reality but which do not provide permanent solutions to their problems. For one to get an insight into the economic cost of viewing soap operas, one should consider the case of soap opera magazines and columns in newspapers. The columns in newspapers could heave been used to provide valuable information on real issues that affect people who have been ignored because they fall into an economic category that cannot be packaged and sold to advertisers. Soap opera magazines could cover real social problems afflicting people in the world rather than concentrating on analyzing the activities of fictional characters. Besides, there is more joy to be derived from being involved in the lives of real people, than getting caught up in the lives of fictional characters.

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Furthermore, if an involvement with soap opera characters is a reaction to an unsatisfactory social condition, this involvement only goes to mask the symptoms without providing permanent solutions. The feeling that all is not well is the first symptom that something is wrong and sets the ball rolling for a solution. If several people experience these symptoms then it calls for a change in the social environment which can be achieved by renegotiating with one’s spouse or family or setting up new challenges and goals that would make life more meaningful. If people have to rely on soap operas to ‘people’ their lives, it is an indication that there is something wrong with the social system since it is not meeting the innate needs of people. Robert C. Allen articulated this view that soap opera addiction may be an indicator of deeper problems of women. In his book “Speaking of Soap Operas” he wrote, “Women of the daytime audiences are having physical and psychic problems that they themselves cannot understand, that they cannot solve. Being physical, they feel the thrust of these problems. Being poor, they cannot buy remedies in the form of doctors, new clothes, or deciduous coiffures; being unanalytical, they cannot figure out what is really the matter with them; and being inarticulate they cannot explain their problem even if they know what it is…Soap Operas takes them into their own problems or into problems worse than their own” It means the reasons for which people live in a society, which is to connect with other human beings, has been lost somewhere as society concentrates on scientific, technological and economic development. This emphasis on the physical has led to an abandonment of activities that nurture the emotional and spiritual aspects of people. These have been sacrificed in

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the name of economic advancement, which has promoted the rise of individualism and the death of a community spirit. It is not by chance that the character “Don Quixote” in the novel by the same title by Cervantes was the one to attempt to live in a fictional world out of the various characters portrayed in the novel. Don Quixote was unmarried, lived alone and probably did not have any social life. So like today’s women who rely on soap operas to people their lives, Don Quixote relied on the characters in his books to people his life until he lost touch with reality and begun to “live in the middle ages”, the time setting for his books. Even though the plight of Don Quixote represents an extreme case of media effects, it has been documented in this research that some viewers get so involved with the lives of fictional characters that they write letters of congratulations to television networks when a character on a soap opera series get married. What is more, some even write letters offering advice to their favorite actresses on what steps to take in a soap opera plot in which they have been cast in an unfavorable situation, as if the outcome of soap operas do not depend exclusively on the writers but on the interventions of the audience and the planning of the characters. This indicates a mix-up of the fictional world with the world of reality. There have been instances when some viewers have assaulted soap opera characters because they did awful things to their favorite characters while a viewer wrote a note to his Church Minister on the bad conduct of his daughter after his daughter had played a “bad” role in a soap opera cast. Some researchers have attributed the pleasure that women derive from soap operas to the fact that the plots, which try to undermine male dominance, give women pleasure because they can temporarily identify with the female characters that rebel against masculine control. But is it not better that women

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seek concrete ways of fighting this age-old problem instead of living in a world of fiction in a bid to escape from this world of frustration? Fleeing into a world of fiction is not a solution and does not constitute strength but a weakness. If women use these escapades to temporarily calm their nerves and nurture themselves to confront the situation in more realistic ways, then viewing soap operas could yield positive results. For as the old saying goes, “he who fights and runs away lives to fight another day”. However, if women become paralyzed by realities on the ground and choose to remain in the world of soap operas for all eternity, forever using them as ways of escape, then viewing soap operas could become a disservice to women. This has even greater implications for women living in developing countries such as Ghana where societal inequalities between men and women are great and where women still have to fight against traditional cultural systems that discriminate against them and subject them to all kinds of hardship, torture, and humiliation. It will be suicidal for the Ghanaian woman to fold her arms and immerse herself in the fictional world of soap operas without taking the necessary steps to redeem herself from male subjugation. Besides, economic power is one area where men wield authority and control. Today, thanks to the availability of educational opportunities, some women have been able to penetrate this kingdom of men. Hence, women will be better off doing other things like pursuing a higher education or availing themselves of business opportunities while using the rebellion against male dominance in soap operas as an inspiration that things can change in their favor if they act in the right direction and persist to spear them on.

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5.1.2 How do Media Models Impact on the Youth? Personal identity is cultivated through a sustained and steady reflection on values and ideas followed by a deliberate adoption of some values and rejection of others with a keen of sense of ‘what kind of man or woman I want to be in future’. However, today, thanks to the media and television, ‘who I want to be in future’ is on sale on the screen and one only has to copy and buy the clothing and accessories after one has made a choice from the wide variety of personalities on sale on television. Hence, instead of striving to be their authentic selves, the youth are struggling to be photocopies of media personalities, some of whom are of questionable character. In so doing, they sacrifice their God –given uniqueness and instead become pseudo-personalities of media constructs. The danger with the youth continually running to the media for identity is that they may never discover their true selves but will continue to model themselves after whatever artists their peer groups approve of at any point in time. This endless searching for whom to be by the youth also points to an emptiness in them, which is a normal phenomenon during the adolescent years that can push the youth to achieve and gain a sense of fulfillment from achievement if used in the right direction. Hence, it is during this time that the youth should be encouraged to develop their academic, artistic, athletic and other talents in their search to fill the emptiness in them. By so doing, they discover and develop the latent talents lying untapped within them. However, when time and energy is wasted in trying to become the latest musical star that takes to one’s fancy, the youth are likely to lose focus on themselves and lose their sense of identity.

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This is not to say that television models should be a “no go” area for the youth. Some television stars can be a big source of inspiration for the youth, especially if such stars worked hard to overcome unfavorable conditions to accomplish what they have achieved. What is important is a sense of balance, which can be achieved under parental guidance so that the youth learn to discover their own strengths and weaknesses. When they have a clear sense of what they are capable of achieving and what may be out of their reach, they can then work hard on their abilities and use them to their maximum potential instead of chasing after empty dreams.

5.1.3 Children and cartoons Whilst cartoons do serve as a source of entertainment for children and may contribute positively to reducing aggression, as some researchers have suggested, the main criticism of cartoons is that, most often, they do not teach any moral lesson. Time that would have been invested by children in listening to stories from their cultural background or reading children’s books such as fairy tales is now spent watching cartoons. Thus, cartoons have replaced these traditional modes of entertainment and instruction for children. But the problem with cartoons is that whilst they entertain, they do very little instruction. In fairy tales, such as ‘Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ among others, vices such as wickedness and envy are punished whilst long suffering and victims of wicked persons are normally rescued at the end and rewarded. Hence, these texts instill certain qualities in children and play a socializing role by helping them to distinguish between virtues and vices and assuring then that virtue will always be rewarded whilst vices are always

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punished. Such moral lessons when imbibed by children remain with them for the rest of their lives. Cartoons on the other hand, go on and on with one violent act after the other, and most often, with no distinguishable story line. A cartoon series such as “Tom and Jerry” whilst depicting beautiful episodes, appropriately spiced with violence on how a mouse always outwits a cat do not teach any virtues such as honesty, truthfulness, and longsuffering among the whole list of virtues that are normally addressed by fairy tales and folk stories. Hence, the kind of socialization accomplished in children by traditional folk tales is not the same as that accomplished by cartoons. Further more, cartoons come laced with advertisement that begin their work of instilling consumerism in the young child, something that was unknown when traditional tales were the dominant means of socializing the young child. Besides, traditional folk tales normally center on human characters with problems, trials, ambitions, and frailties that children can identify with. Since cartoon characters consist of caricatures, which children know do not exist, they may fail to identify with the characters and learn any moral lesson in cartoons even if the story were to be woven around a plot that aims at imparting virtues. Furthermore, cartoons have been designed mainly to entertain, to provide pleasure and excitement. By not showing the consequences of violence and by using caricatures that children know do not exist anyway, cartoons convert violence into something that children can experience as pleasurable. But we live in a world of cause and effect, of pain and pleasure, where both evil and good produce results. Thus, cartons prevent children from relating cause to effect.

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Another point worth noting is the fact that as children gradually give up books in return for television as a main source of entertainment, they may miss out on valuable lessons about life that they can learn from novels as they grow into their teenage years and into adulthood. One important area is the socializing role provided by romantic novels for orientating the youth for love and marriage. Most often, romantic novels with a plot woven around love and marriage normally depict a young person’s search for love amidst challenges until he or she finds the woman and man of his or her heart’s desire with whom he or she pledges to live with forever. Sex is always portrayed within a context of love and relationship. These little steps that lead to love and romance are normally absent from televised material, which normally depict sex as occurring between people with no strong commitment or the intention of an enduring relationship. Nonetheless, cartoons, and other genres in the era of television have come to stay. What then remains is for parents to select a wise blend of cartoons and other television programs for children whilst ensuring that they do not displace the much needed exposure to books and other forms of recreation. This situation brings to the mind of the writer the old nursery song that runs this way; “make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver but the other gold”. Folk stories, fairy tales and novels remain our old friends while cartoons are our new friends. Cartoons are silver but folk stories, fairy tales and novels are gold by comparison.

5.2 A LOOK AT GHANA IN RELATION TO TELEVISION. From the broad picture painted in the preceding pages on the effects of television on viewers, it is necessary to do a case study of a particular country

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and come out with specific recommendations on how to convert television viewing into a more positive activity. The country chosen for this study is Ghana. It is a former British colony and the first country south of the Sahara to gain its independence from Britain in 1957. It has a population of 18 million people comprising of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The various ethnic groups speak over 50 different local languages. English is the national language and it is used for instruction in schools and at offices (http://www.newsinghana.com,2005:1)

5.2.1 Broadcasting in Ghana The Ghana Broadcasting Corporation was established in July 1935 by the British colonial government to broadcast radio programs. The television component was added to the Corporation in 1965 after the country had gained independence. Since then, the sphere of television was dominated by the Ghana Broadcasting corporation until a few years ago when private businessmen where given licenses to set up television stations. A number of private stations were set up, including Metropolitan T.V., TV3 Network, Crystal Television, TV Africa, TV Agoro and Frontomfrom TV

(http://chapterone.freewebspace.com/contact.html). For the purposes of this discussion, Ghana Television of the Ghana Boradcasting Corporation has been selected. The Ghana Broadcasting Corporation covers 90 percent of the population of Ghana and is the oldest broadcasting house in the country (ibid).

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5.2.2 Why Ghana Television was established Ghana Television was established to provide information, cultural, civic and social education and entertainment. Since its establishment, it has been supported by government subvention and advertisements until the television license fee was introduced in the 1990’s to provide additional support.

5.2.3 Programs on Ghana television Programs of Ghana Television consist of news programs, adult education programs, drama, talk shows, sports, political and civic education programs, children’s programs and local and foreign films and soap operas. The news bulletin is telecast twice a day, one at 7 p.m. and a later version at between 10p.m to 11p.m. The news is always telecast in English and then translated into two local languages. The local languages used are Akan, Ga, Ewe, Nzema, Hausa and Dagbani and any two of them can be used each day for the local news translation. A bulk of the news consists of political news, which ranges from 40 percent on a normal day to as high as 70 percent during the period of election when coverage of political campaigns dominates the news. On a normal day, economic news may take up 20 percent whilst social news takes up 30 percent but during an election year, they are eclipsed by the large amount of political news that is telecast. Of the ten political regions, about 40 percent of the news comes from only one region, the Greater Accra Region in which is found Accra, the capital of Ghana.

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Adult education programs are carried out in the six local languages mentioned above. Talk shows are carried out in two main languages, English and Akan, which is the most widely spoken local language. Entertainment programs consist of local dramas in the six local languages that are used for broadcasting. Local untrained actors and actresses who rely on their ingenuity and the knowledge of their culture to act their plays normally perform these. Trained local actors and actresses, notably those from the National Film and Television Institute (NAFTI) and the School of Performing Arts at the University of Ghana also stage dramas that are telecast on television. But these local productions are normally few and foreign films and soap operas rather dominate. The soap operas that have been telecast in the past include “Days of our lives”, “Neighbours”, “The bold and the beautiful”, “Dynasty”, “Izaura”, “Soul food”, “Savage heart”, “Oshien”, “Igola”, and “Journey to the west” among several others. Those currently running on the screen include “Tentacles”, “The woman of my life”, “My three sisters”, “Home sweet home” and “Kejetia”. In addition, several situation comedies have been screened on Ghana Television including “Different Strokes”, “Cosby Show”, “227” and “Moesha”. Hollywood films are normally telecast as late night movies and Sunday family movies, which are interspersed by a few Nigerian and Ghanaian films. Foreign cartoons dominate programs for children on Ghana Television. Cartoons are telecast every day from between 3p.m to 5p.m when children are expected to have closed from school and on Saturday mornings. Unlike what pertains in western countries, cartoons in Ghana carry very few advertisements since Ghana does not have the economic base that sustains

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those kinds of advertisements. Thus, cartoon programs in Ghana do not have the potential of turning children into consumers like they do in the west. Sunday mornings are reserved for religious programs. These include transmissions of Sunday Services from various Christian dominations and gospel singers. In the afternoons, feature films are normally screened under the program family movie. Since the family is supposed to be home on Sunday afternoon watching television together, these films are chosen with caution to allow all members of the family to view them together. Just like other television channels, sports programs form a large chunk of the programs screened on Ghana television. These include football, hockey, tennis, athletics and golf. Sports programs are normally telecast on Mondays, Saturdays and Sundays when no sporting activities are taking place. During special seasons such as league matches and athletics, the programs are changed to accommodate them.

5.3 HOW DOES TELEVISION VIEWING IMPACT ON GHANAIAN FAMILIES? How Families in Ghana experience television varies tremendously and it is linked to the economic base of the family. In many Ghanaian cities, television has ceased to be something novel and has been taken for granted. Television ownership is thus at the Mature phase. In such families, television viewing has patterns that are very similar to that of the west, even though the impact is not the same because community life is the norm rather than the exception in Ghana. Hence, social mitigation on the effects of television is very strong. However, in the rural areas of Ghana where 70 percent of the population lives, television is still something very novel and is at the Tavern

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or Pioneer stage. In some cases, the only television set in the village may be one donated by a politician to the village chief to buy votes from the community. Apart from the fact that most rural people cannot afford to buy a television set, they may lack electricity or be situated at a place where reception of television signals is very poor. For the few families that have access to television, it becomes a symbol of social status. That family will be the proud receiver of several visitors who flood the house to view television. Television viewing thus becomes a group, or even community activity rather than a family activity. Whilst television at this stage can provide entertainment, information and relaxation, other effects such as providing companionship or stimulating conversation are very minimal since the cohesiveness of community life experienced in rural areas makes these needs unnecessary. In fact television viewing at this stage is not a need, like what pertains in western countries or even in urban Ghana where life is more westernized but an addition to the social life of the people. Television does not take over their shared social activities because the nature of rural life makes this impossible. Thus, in Ghana, two patterns of television viewing exist side by side.

5.3.1 How Do Television Programs Impact on Ghanaians Having examined the patterns of television viewing which is linked to the type of ownership in Ghana, it may be necessary to analyze how individual programs affect viewers. Since it has been established that in rural Ghana where television ownership is at the tavern stage, the impact is very minimal, the analysis will be carried out with respect to urban dwellers that exhibit viewing patterns similar to what pertains in the west.

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5.3.1.1 Television Impact in Respect of Language It will be recalled that there exists over 50 different languages in Ghana, the largest group being the Akan group. So naturally, most local programs are telecast in Akan. The five remaining local languages that are used do not command as many programs as the Akan language. So what is the implication of this for the numerous Ghanaians who cannot speak English and do not speak any of the six languages used by Ghana Television? It means they are cut off from a cultural process and denied access and participation in the communication process. The dominance of Akan on Ghana Television reflects their dominance in Ghanaian society. Thus, television has become a tool for confirming, strengthening and propagating this dominance to the neglect of the languages and cultures of minority ethnic groups. In addition, the fact that the news is always read in English in a country where a high percentage of the population is illiterate means that most Ghanaians do not benefit from news and current affairs programs. This undermines democracy because knowledge in the day-to-day affairs of the country is necessary for people to assess the political and economic landscape of the country and make informed decisions when it comes to electing political leaders. Since a lot of Ghanaians are ignorant in this regard because they lack adequate information, political leaders who buy their votes during elections normally manipulate them. Thus, these ignorant people who have been denied cultural access easily sell off their power to institute changes in their country and their personal lives. Because they lack the ability to analyze issues, they do not realize that by selling their votes they are perpetuating poverty.

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5.3.1.2 Television Impact in Terms of Program Content Cartoons In terms of program contents, Ghanaian children are spared the commercials that plague cartoons in the west because they do not constitute the market for them. This is an advantage to them because they have access to entertainment without paying the price for that entertainment; namely being converted into a commodity to be sold to advertisers by the producers. What then remains to be analyzed are the violence portrayed in cartoons as well as the opportunity cost of cartoons. Does cartoon violence impart negatively on children? Even though no scientific study has been carried out in this regard, Ghanaian parents are not complaining about these cartoons. For most parents, cartoons serve as an opportunity to keep overactive children indoors and away from potential trouble. But no one knows the long-term effects of continuous viewing of cartoons on Ghanaian children. This calls for research in this area. With regards to the opportunity cost of viewing cartoons, those urban families that own these sets also tend to place a high premium on education. Hence, apart from regular school attendance, it is customary for children from these homes to attend extra classes and enroll at the local library. The only academic aspect of these children’s lives that television can interfere with is in the area of reading for leisure or pleasure, where children learn a lot of things informally from fairy tales to novels. As suggested by some studies quoted in this research, television has merely replaced these areas of children’s life. But as explained earlier on in this chapter, these books do not only entertain but they also instruct. Hence, to allow television to blight them out of a child’s life constitutes a disservice to the child.

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5.3.1.3 News On Ghana Television, the news genre is perhaps the most deceitful in the sense that it pretends to give coverage of the entire country whilst in actual fact very little of what goes on is reported. Even what is usually reported lacks depth and analysis to enable the viewer to get a true picture of the issues being reported on. In the first place, political news dominates and policy statements and activities undertaken by politicians such as cutting the sod for a new building, opening a new clinic or school or inspecting projects dominate the headlines. Very little is heard about issues that affect the life of the ordinary Ghanaian. Besides, there also exists an imbalance in the news coverage with respect to the 10 political regions of the country. Most often, about 50 percent of the news originates from the Greater Accra Region whilst very little is heard of the other nine regions.

5.3.1.4 Dramas, Soap operas, Situation Comedies and Films The problem with locally produced Ghanaian dramas is that the plots are too simple. These dramas which are performed in both English and local languages attract a wide audience, especially women. But their simple nature makes viewing them a passive activity since most of the audience can readily predict the outcome of successive scenes. In addition, most films that are made are amateurish and unrealistic because film directors neglect certain important parts of the plots. An example is a film in which the plot revolved around a young woman purported to be the only daughter of a wealthy man. However, in the film, this so-called rich girl

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wore only one dress throughout the production. How does this correspond with her status as an heiress? Similarly, in another film, the plot revolved around a man who went oversees for five years. Before he left, his only sister saw him off at the airport. When he returned after five years, this same only sister went again to meet him at the airport. What rendered the film unrealistic was the fact that she was still wearing the same hairstyle she wore five years before to see her brother off at the airport. These are but just two of some of the numerous blunders that make locally produced Ghanaian films substandard and uninteresting to the educated elite. Soap Operas and situation comedies also command a big audience, with the dominant audience being women. Over 90 percent of Soap Operas that are screened on Ghanaian television screens are from the United States and Western Europe, with a few from Asia, Latin America and South Africa. In spite of the fact that these have a wide audience, the possibility that viewers do not read and understand the texts from the producer’s point of view is high. Apart from existing cultural differences between the cultures from which such programs are produced and Ghanaian culture, the use of slang and English words that have local connotations may not be understood in the Ghanaian context and viewers may carry away a different meaning of the message. Foreign films remain the preserve of the educated elite, both men and women, who normally find local productions unchallenging and amateurish and hence prefer foreign films.

5.3.1.5 Sports Programs In Ghana sports programs are used as a supplement to the activities of sports fans. Most sports fans will prefer to be at the stadium and watch their

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team playing if the match or tournament is taking place in their own locality. They rely on television to view events that are out of their reach, such as sports programs in other towns or cities and international games taking place in other countries. Apart from big games such as the Olympic Games, the World Cup, the African Cup, amongst others, which attract a wide audience, other games such as Football made in Germany and British soccer attract a loyal audience.

5.4 HOW TELEVISION IN GHANA CAN BE IMPROVED First of all, the problems posed by the use of the English language for a bulk of the programs that cut off the majority of the population from benefiting from these programs in participating in the national debate should be addressed. Even though strides have been made in this area by the introduction and use of six Ghanaian languages on television in addition to the production of local programs in these languages, a lot still needs to be done. The dominance of the Akan language on television, which reflects their dominance in the Ghanaian society, should be addressed. After all, communication is meant to change society for the better and not replicate what is undesirable in society. In this regard, it would be necessary to develop more programs in the five other languages to enable them to catch up with the Akan language in terms of programs. Apart from this, one way Ghana Television can diversify the languages used on television is to travel to those communities whose languages are not currently in use on their programs and film their own local theatre productions, entertainment programs and festivals and telecast them on television. It will be difficult and expensive for Ghana television to train and sponsor local artists for many languages but this can be overcome if they rely

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on local productions from those communities, which they can simply film and screen. By doing this, they will be breaking the myth of ethnic dominance in Ghanaian society and pave the way for a more unified Ghana. Such a bold step would also help cultivate the spirit of belonging and patriotism in all Ghanaians by proving to them that they matter to society. It will also be a mighty step towards the fight against cultural imperialism since all Ghanaians will be exposed to their rich cultural diversity and heritage which when blended carefully would stimulate their interest in local productions and curb their over reliance on foreign programs which undermine their cultural values and replaces them with ‘Hollywood produced’ values. Secondly, by developing and increasing the output of trained Ghanaian actors, Ghana Television can rely less on foreign films, situation comedies and soap operas and screen more local productions. Such a step will provide more job opportunities for actors and actresses and earn revenue for the country if the films are good enough to be exported. In the development of these films, care should be taken not to produce gender and ethnic stereotypes since in the long run these do not augur well for development. It will also be necessary to produce local films with more complex plots since one of the reasons why most Ghanaians prefer watching western films is because they find the plots of local films too simplistic which makes them boring. There is therefore the need for local films to be approached with more professionalism to make them more realistic.

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5.5 WHAT SHOULD BE DONE TO HELP THE GHANAIAN AUDIENCE TO BENEFIT FROM TELEVISION? A Media Education Program can be developed for Ghana under the auspices of the Ghana Catholic Education Unit. This would help mitigate the potential negative effects of television on viewers. As the old saying goes, “a stitch in time saves nine”. It will be better for media education to take off right now than at the time when the effects of television are too overwhelming. The following will serve as the points of reference for any media education program. The Media Education program will try to sensitize Ghanaians, especially media practitioners and policy makers on the need to revamp the television landscape in Ghana. This is because, it is through social communication that cultures change and mutate. Hence, in order to ensure that the changes wrought by Ghana television are in the interest of Ghanaians, it is necessary to monitor its contents to bring about the right changes. It will not serve the interest of the country in the long run if those in authority pretend what goes on on television does not affect the country. Efforts should be made to make television a participatory medium on which the various ethnic groups of Ghana express themselves in their own language and contribute to the evolvement of an authentic Ghanaian culture. Television should not perpetuate dominance and stereotypes. The Media Education Program will also sensitize schools, parents and opinion leaders on the need for a critical analysis of media content, especially, foreign programs. News especially should not be taken at face value but viewers should supplement what they hear on television with newspapers and interpersonal communication.

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Parents, especially, will be sensitized on the need to scrutinize the programs watched by their children, to guide them in the selection of their programs and to accompany them when viewing television. This is because; accompaniment reduces the negative effects of television on children. The program will emphasize on how viewers can integrate television into their social and academic lives. In the case of children, television should not take over the reading of children literature, since as has already been emphasized, the socialization accomplished by these books are different from that accomplished by television. Parents will be encouraged to seek out reference points and role models other than television personalities on whom their children can model their lives. Models can be found within the family or in the community. In order that the steps outlined above are achieved, it may be necessary to develop literature on media education around these themes. The Catholic Education Unit can also serve as a pressure group in respect of television by pushing for changes that favor the viewers rather than advertisers. Journalists often describe themselves as “watchdogs of Society” but who watches over the watchdog to ensure that the right thing is done. The unit can thus serve as a watchdog on the performance of television by drawing their attention to lapses while encouraging them when they initiate desirable innovations.

5.6 THE WAY FORWARD This research work is by no means exhaustive. What the writer has merely done is to gather material on the impact of television on family life, which has been analyzed with regards to specific family members.

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During the gathering of materials, one issue that stood out starkly was the lack of ethnographic research material on how television impacts on African countries. Hence, it may necessary to carry out an ethnographic research in African countries in this regard. Such a research should not be limited to just viewers but should also try to identify the power brokers who control the media in African countries, determine whose interest is served by the media and the role of advertisements on media content. It is hoped that an ethnographic research on television’s impact on families will be carried out on Ghana in the near future to fill up the existing gap.

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Luke, Timothy W. (1989): Screens of Power: ideology, domination and resistance in informational society. Urbana: University of Illinois Press Lull, James (1990): Inside Family Viewing: Ethnographic Research on Television and Audiences. London: Routledge Lull, James. (1988): World Families Watch Television. Newbury park: sage Publications Lull, James. (1992): Popular Music and Communication. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications Martinez –De Toda, Jose. (2000): La Produzione Radiofonica Nella Cultura Di Oggi. Roma: Pontificio Universita Gregoriana McQuail, Dennis. (1987) Mass Communication: An Introduction. Newbury park, C.A., Sage McQuail, Dennis. (2000): McQuail’s Mass communication Theory. London: Sage Publications Morley, David. (1986): Family Television: Cultural Power and Domestic Leisure. London: Comedia Publishing Group Newcomb, Horace. (1974): TV: The Most Popular Art. New York: Anchor Press. Palmer, Edward L. (1987) Children in the Cradle of Television: Lexington: Lexington Books Price, Monroe E. and Stefan G. Verhulst. (2002): Parental Control of Television Broadcasting. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Real, Michael R. (1989): Super Media: A cultural studies Approach. Newbury Park: Sage publications Real, Michael R. (1996): Exploring Media Culture: A Guide. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications

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Roberto, John. (1992): Media, Faith and Families: A Parent’s Guide to Family Viewing. New Rochelle, NY: Don Bosco Multimedia Rosengren, Karl Erik (Ed) (1994): Media Effects and Beyond: Culture, Socialization and Lifestyles. London: Routledge Schultze, Quentin. (1986): Television: Manna From Hollywood. The best and the Worst on Television and How to Tell the Difference. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Books Scott, Linda M-Rajeev Batra (Eds) (2003): Persuasive Imagery: A consumer Response Perspective. Mawah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Shaw, Colin. (1999): Deciding what we watch: Taste, decency and Media Ethics in the UK and the USA. Oxford: Clarendon Press Signorielli, Nancy and Morgan, Michael. (1990) Cultivation Analysis: new directions in media effects studies. Newbury Park: Sage Publications Silverstone, Roger and Eric Hirsch. (Eds) (1992): Consuming Technologies: Media and Information in Domestic Spaces. London: Routledge Singer, Dorothy G. and Singer Jerome L. (2001) Handbook of Children and the Media. Thousand oaks, Sage Publications. Smythe, Dallas (1981): Dependency Road. Norwood, NJ: Ablex. Soukup, Paul, A. (1996): Media, Culture and Catholicism. Kansas City: Sheed & Ward Swan, Karen, Meskill, Carla and DeMaio, Steven (1998) Social Learning From Broadcast television. New jersey, Cresskill: Hampton Press

Incorporated Taylor, Ella. (1989): Prime Time Families: Television Culture in Postwar America. Berkley: University of California press. Winick, Mariann Pezzalla and Winick, Charles. (1979): The Television Experience: What Children see. Beverly Hills, CA: sage Publications

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Web Sites http://news.bbc.co.uk./hi/ magazine/4491349.stm http://www.ber.ac.uk/media/students/hlr9501.html http://chapterone.freewebspace.com/contact.html http://w.w.w.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/communication/television.php http://www.criminology.fsu.edu/crimtheory/bandura.htm http://www.afirstlook.com/archive/sociallearning.cfm?source=archther http://www.magicdragon.com/EmeraldCity/Nonfiction/socphil.html http://www.utexas.edu/coc/journalism/SOURCE/j363/gerbner.html http://www.newsinghana.com/news/Television-programmes-and advertisements.htm http://www.central.edu/homepages/feeneym/matrix/theories.htm

Course Lectures Baugh, Lloyd P. (SJ). CP2036: Il Linguaggio, l’esperienza e i genre della televisione, June 2005. Savarimuthu, Augustine. CP2032: Storia Sociale della Communicazione, June 2004. Savarimuthu, Augustine. CO2A87: Introduzione alla Pre-produzione del Video, February 2004. Srampickal, Jacob. CS2062: Educazione ai Media, June, 2004.

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