TELEVISION TODAY: A CLOSE-UP VIEW Readings from TV Guide by Barry--Ed. Cole


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Cole (Annenberg School of Communications, U. of Pa.) has selected 72 articles from the past 15 years of TV Guide (most of them quite short), has grouped them in seven subject areas, and has provided section introductions and occasional annotations. The result is a generous hodgepodge that's strong on multiple viewpoints and basic (if scattered and often superficial) information, weak on solid grappling with the issues. ""Programming"" offers little real substance: an unsurprising look at Fred Silverman's ""credo""; a few juicy peeks at audience-testing techniques (for shows and ads); a ""What Makes a Hit?"" roundtable; a lament for the dearth of local programming; inconsequential chat on soap operas and game shows; some intriguing business bits (syndication and sports-event bidding); and an amusing piece on those late-night ""direct-response ads"" (""The worse the program, the better the response""). The somewhat meatier ""News"" section includes David Brinldey's rather disturbing rejection of newspaper principles and a couple of spirited attacks on TV news. Two sections on ""Audience"" provide the inevitable debates on TV violence and ratings, a disarming talk about TV-in-politics with losers McGovern and Goldwater, and Daniel J. Boorstin's persuasive little essay on TV un-reality--along with some dated drollery, blather from Arnold Toynbee, and pap from Joan Mondale. ""Public Television"" gets awfully short shrift (though Neil Hickey sketches in the CPB/PBS conflict neatly), while there's lots on cable, video cassettes, etc. And Cole's best introduction by far comes with the ""Censorship and Control"" chapter--whose contents focus largely (and probably rightly) on sponsor/network tensions. Some of the pieces are too cursorily updated, and the contributors are skimpily identified--if at all. But, while no substitute for a coherent study like Eric Barnouw's, this uneven compilation does at least supply some starting-points for discussion of a large range of TV issues.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1980
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press