Final Exam: Democratizing Television

Justin Shaw…Word Count: 820

“Democratizing Television” encompasses the opportunities television companies have to encourage the active participation of young people to participate in a television programs, production, selection, and distribution, along with the obstacles those companies face, due to the politics in the industry. The aim of Democratizing television is to use the dominant medium that is television to give young people a voice, like the Internet does.

The opportunities television companies have to Democratize television are through the convergence of people. Currents In Communications states convergence represents, “a move from medium- specific content toward content that flows across multiple media channels, toward the increased interdependence of communications systems, toward multiple ways of accessing media content, and toward top-down corporate media and bottom-up participatory culture”(279).  This convergence enables consumers to have their favorite television network be more responsive to their tastes and interests. It also brings upon a coming media age that is a, “feast of niches and specialties”(280) that is an era of customized and interactive content which would appeal to the highest ambitions of the participators. Convergence creates multiple ways of selling content to consumers, and also cements consumer loyalty. It differs from the traditional television selling, which broadcast to a general portion of consumers instead of being responsive to specific audience of consumers.

The obstacles faced in democratizing television are corporate copyright regime and censorship that cripple convergence and consumer participation, which results in consumer concentration. These stronghold television industries have, create concentration of consumers. This concentration lowers the diversity of consumers, which is essential to news. It also lowers the incentive for companies to negotiate with their consumers and raises the barriers of the consumer’s participation because the company already has a premeditative strategy.

asldkfjasl;dfkjasdVersus Baby watching television on a laptop

When someone watches television using satellite cable compared to the Internet on their computer; there are many differences. Simply, because a person can watch television online that cooperates with their schedule, which differs from scheduled cable or satellite television. Satellite and cable television seem to be staying the same for the past 10 years. All though The New York Times is reporting that The Walt Disney Company, which owns ABC, is developing an app that would live stream ABC content to phones and tablets. Still this live streaming does not cooperate with people schedules, like online television does.

Also online television promotes “democratizing television”. Unlike cable television, online television enables viewers to participate and promote shows. For example, a show that got cancelled called “Global Frequency” owned by Warner Bros., had circulated on in a niche community on the Internet via a Bit Torrent. All though, Warner Bros. possessed the copy write of the show, it was downloaded illegally. This copy write prohibited the niche community to be responsive to the show, halting its convergence. John Rogers, the writer of the show, after learning about his fan niche community said, “It changes the way I will do my next project, I would put my pilot on the Internet in a heart beat”(285). This quote exemplifies online television and regular cable television differs because online television receives more feedback from viewers due to its convergence, which cable television does not do.

The “Golden Era” of television simply differs from cable television and online television because during that era, it was a brand new experience for people. In the 1960’s news dominated the television, along with debuted sports events. The 1970’s brought upon educational shows for children such as Seseme Street and Mister Rogers of PBS. In 1975, sitcoms and comedy shows began to flourish. After the sitcoms and comedies came superstations that delivered mass communications of a subject such as WTBS, ESPN, and Nickelodeon. Then the 1980’s came networks like BET, MTV, and Home Shopping Network. It inevitable evolution of a medium presented to viewers, and now it seems like everything that was deemed “new” is old and people want to only watch what interest them. Different from broadcasting to a broad demographic like in the 60’s and 80’s, during our present day with online television and cable television, media active people have to attitude of “What I want and when I want it”(280) which people during the time of the “golden era” were not accustomed to.

Social media sites like YouTube do enhance participation of democracy because they create fan-based niches. For example if someone likes the show Game Of Thrones, , which may appeal to the niche community. Sites like YouTube promote participation within a niche community in a Democratic way. Fan clubs can be created and they can comment on a short video of a show they watch depicted if they like it or if they did not. The network of the show using the channel of the Internet can see this participation and if enough support is shown by viewers to make an adjustment to the show, the network can respond to the viewers by making those adjustments.

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