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Public Broadcasting Television Networks

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Question:

Discuss the Ways in which the Major Television Networks have tried to stop Audience Erosion over the years Without much Success.  What should they do?

 

Answer:

Mass communication is the study of transfer of information to a large targeted population at the same time. Audience erosion is the process in which a media company’s viewership reduces as days go by. The popular channels that are used in mass communication include: television, radio, newspapers, cinemas and online media (Rowland 1994, p. 6). Online media include use of websites, social media and even YouTube. Blogs have also been used to enhance communication of information over vast number of persons.

Role of public broadcasting

Public broadcasting television networks are media houses that are ran on tax payers’ money. They function mainly in providing relevant information about the culture of people, education and entertainment and importantly, inform the general public on the events taking place within its area of service. Public broadcasting functions as a mouth piece of the government. It gives the provision of airing government functions, religious and political functions too. They should not be advert driven as they are financed by the government (Indrajit 2006, p. 15). However, majority have focused on the adverts and led to diversion of their role in content delivery.

Media houses have tried to stop audience erosion over the years of operation. They used various strategies to prevent audience erosion by introducing programs that are enticing hence increasing the viewership. The movies that they decide to air determine the audience that is targeted. They have used personalities that are deemed to be influential. The persons strive to impact the viewership by their unique anchorage skills (Jan 2003, p. 72). This includes the type of interviews that they are able to host, their fluency in the English language and their unique voices. Media houses have strived to reduce the rate of erosion by introduction of questions that the audience participates and wins. This factor has been advantageous as they are able to generate revenue and also reward some of their viewers. Airing of various programs has been used to impact the viewership of the media company. The programs being aired consider the age, sex, race and culture of persons. Programs that are not in accordance with the culture of some people will lead to audience erosion. Programs that are discriminatory and show tribalism or racism have also led to decreased viewership. Timing of the programs and news by various media companies has impacted the viewership by the audience. Improper timing has led to audience erosion. The media houses have to consider the timing as it contributes to the number of viewers it receives (David 2008, p. 13). If the timing is not favorable, many people that were targeted will miss out and thus will lead to audience erosion. Media houses have tried to stop audience erosion by introduction of customer care. The customer care is in charge of determining the needs of the viewers. This task enables them to prepare content that is able to increase the viewership and thus increasing the generation of revenue (Cess 1994, p. 30).

Major television networks have tried to reduce erosion of their viewers but have not been successful. Lack of innovative ideas has led to erosion of the audience. This has been facilitated by poor market research that fails to determine the interests of the viewers. Long routines of similar scripts have also led to erosion of the target audience. Certain programs are aired for a relatively long period of time (Stanley 2008, p. 71). This has led to the audience being able to determine the predictability and some loose interest watching them. Predictability erodes the audience of many television networks. Internet has also made the erosion by the media houses to increase. Majority of the programs being aired by the media houses can be easily accessed over in the internet. This leads to reduced viewership as the content is readily available to those that seek it (Anthony 1992, p. 163). BBC has suffered audience erosion due to the effect that was brought about by lack of innovative scheduling. Being a current affair television network, it suffered major setbacks that led to it is erosion of the audience. Lack of diversity affected it greatly. Negative scandals that affected the top personalities that worked with BBC led to erosion of the viewers. BBC failed to target the youth as it had barely no program that was youth oriented (Simon 2012, p. 39).

 


Media / television networks can prevent audience erosion by determining the correct platform. This includes determining the interests of the audience. The choices that are available help in determining what is to be aired. Marketers ought to do research on daily basis so as to determine the content that the audience needs. This helps in preparation of content that is tailored to the specifications of the viewers. Increased engagement with the audience will led to reduction of audience erosion (Nancy 2015, p. 158). This functions to determine their wants. Utilization of social media in communication has its disadvantages in determining the needs of the audience. A covered approach will fail to determine the needs of the audience. Proper communication and feedback to the clients will help in knowing their needs.

The television networks have to know the content that their viewers are interested in. media houses that have the content that their viewers needed have an easy time with increased viewership and increased revenue. Media companies that answer the questions of their clients are able to prevent audience erosion. This can be achieved by developing strategies and programs that meet their needs. Having proper insight on the content that is required favors the media industry to prevent erosion. This can be achieved through extensive research on the current landscape that is appealing to the audience. The accurateness of the content enables the audience to remain glued to the television (Indrajit 2008, p. 113). The television networks ought to give alternatives to what the other television companies are offering. This will bring about diversity and thus increasing the viewership. Television networks can prevent erosion by offering a little more than what was offered by other companies. This can be achieved by airing documentaries that have behind the scenes that enable the audience have a better picture of what really happened.

Engaging with the viewers online will enable the attention being paid by the audience to increase. This increases the prospects of advertisers and thus increasing the generation of revenue. The internet has come in handy to provide much relevant information within a short period of time. The swiftness of getting tailored information has impacted the erosion of the audience. Television networks can utilize this platform by developing a website that is able to fragment the various news that is being aired so that the audience has an option of choosing what to watch. They can achieve this by having a section of previews of the various content owned by the television company. Media companies that run blogs have to dedicate much of their time in ensuring that the articles being published are true and not merely rumors (Sherwyn 2006, p. 54). This means that the articles have to be insightful and accurate in their reporting. Consistency and reliability is very crucial I the television industry. Major television networks have achieved the reliability aspect on delivering various news and programs within the said time. However, consistency of the content being delivered at times is compromised. Media houses have to be consistent in the content being aired. They have to consider the demands of the viewers so as to prevent erosion of the audience. The television networks have to be social. Socializing is a two way process. The television companies enable us to socialize by their entertainment. They should also engage with the audience for feedback (Anders 1998, p. 181). The information gathered from the feedback has the ability to determine the necessary adjustments to be made.

 Audience erosion is brought about by change in times and with the availability of digital media, many television companies have experienced audience erosion. Mass communication entails having a wide and vast network. There are local media companies and international media companies. International media companies such as BBC and CNN have also faced audience erosion in the recent times. Reduced viewership has affected them due to lack of innovation to adopt to the changes in the media industry.  The target audience ought to be heterogeneous. The local and international media houses ought to incorporate all persons (Don 2016, p. 75). They have to consider the differences of gender, age, religion, culture and race. Failure in consideration of the interests of all the above groups leads to audience erosion. Ability to avoid discrimination. Media houses should function without biasness. If the audience view that the houses are discriminating against other persons, there is a possibility of audience erosion. Media houses ought to maintain professionalism when communicating to their audience. Media houses ought to listen to the feedback that is received from their audience. Reduced or no feedback means that the viewership of the media house has reduced or the number of people watching is significantly low. Mass communication has to incorporate intermediary channels in the transmission of information. The intermediary channels include newspapers, televisions or newspapers. Cinemas can also be used in the circulation of information. 

Media companies have to communicate to the public for the awareness purposes. This serves to communicate to the public on the availability of the media houses. This will help in increasing their target audience. Marketing of the media houses can be done through newspapers, radio, television, posters and online. Media houses ought to know that the audience have a variety to choose from. The programs that are aired in various media houses have a target audience. Insensitivity of the media to consider the needs of the general public will lead to erosion of audience (Arthur 1995, p. 48). Media houses ought to use attractive personalities to increase viewership of the media house. CNN has used great personalities that contribute to increased viewership. People like Zain Asher, Jim Acosta, Shahira Amin, Becky Anderson and Peter Arnett have contributed a great deal in increasing the viewership. Media personalities should try and be relevant and have the professionalism in them. Lack of proper communication will lead to audience erosion.

 


Equipment used to achieve information transfer to the target audience has to be of the latest technology. Utilization of old and not up to date technology will lead to audience erosion. The equipment being used ought to be attractive in terms of the clarity of images and sound. Poor sound and image quality will lead to decreased viewership. Media companies have to be rapid in the transfer of information from the source to the target audience. Communication of stale news leads to audience erosion as the audience will have viewed or listened it from other channels (Michael 1992, p. 179).

Strategies to address erosion by TV stations.

Erosion that occurs in television networks can be prevented by ensuring that the content being aired is what is expected by the targeted audience. The television media companies e.g. BBC, CNN, ABC and Mediacorps can prevent audience erosion by ensuring that the content being aired is the one that was requested by the audience. Media houses should do proper timing to ensure that majority of the programs being aired are able to reach the targeted audience. This functions to incorporate all the age groups in their viewership (Khalil 2006, p. 312). The television networks are expected to use personalities that are able to pull the viewership from the targeted audience. This can be achieved by utilizing celebrities to co-host certain shows. Reduced advertisements during major programs will help reduce the rate of erosion. Majority of the viewers get bored when local television networks run advertisements for a relatively long period of time. Adequate socialization between the viewers and the television networks will help in reducing the rate of erosion (Pippa 2002, p. 171).

Introduction of diversity within the television networks will help in preventing reduction in the number of viewers that stop watching. This can be achieved by incorporating the various cultures within a particular region. Introduction of online programing. This can be achieved through ensuring that all programs that are aired can be uploaded to the website where it can be accessed easily. Media companies can also strive to offer an alternative to what the other media companies are offering (Gary 2011, p. 68). This serves to introduce the uniqueness and thus maintaining the viewership. Alternative content can involve offering behind the scenes of various programs that are being aired, documentaries that encourage the diversity in the society and informative content that promotes the local talent e.g. art. Credibility and reliability of the information being aired also affects the viewership. The more reliable a media house is the more the viewership. Digitalization of the content being aired increases the targeted audience. Digital media has the capability of reaching more persons than those that can be reached over television broadcasting (Thomas 1994, p. 32).

 


Televisions that are grappling with the issue of audience erosion include: Aljazeera, BBC, CNN, ABC and NBC. This media houses have been affected by audience erosion since they lack diversity.

Change in demography impacts the television networks. Demography entails the statistical changes that occur within a population due to birth, death or migration. Migration can be into and out of the country and thus affecting the structure of the audience. Demographical changes in the media industry are expected and thus proper mitigation strategies ought to be drafted. The policies will entail the roles that the researchers will undertake so as to determine the appropriate content is viewed by the targeted audience. With demographical changes, new opportunities are presented which lead to the growth of the television networking (Francesco 2013, p. 94).

Jamie Saville worked with the BBC for a long period of time. It came to the limelight that he had abused children by sexually molesting them. This happened as he carried out his charity work and other assaults happened in the BBC premises. He utilized his fame as a media personality while he hosted his shows such as top of the pops and clunk, clink. The allegations were brought forward after his death. The management of BBC during his tenure had learnt of his alleged actions but never took any action. A report on the conduct of Jamie Saville was prepared but the management refused to air it (Bowcott 2012, 3). The credibility of BBC had been compromised and since the allegations were proven to be true, the company suffered from audience erosion. Jamie Saville scandal led to the decrease of the ratings of the company. 

Brian Sewell was a media personality who was known for his strong criticism of art. In the media, Brian came to the lime light due to his controversial statements against the females. He never compared females as equal personalities in the art industry. He had a strong opinion and he was known by the insults that he used against the general public. Brian provided many voice recordings for many commercials. Brian served as an art critic in the Tatler magazine having been employed by Tina Brown. He won various awards from George Orwell’s prize for his contribution to the Evening Standard. He championed for art and claimed that exhibitions should not be held at the Baltic center but should be hosted in a more complex audience. He was credited having worked in various programs. Among his memorable works are: The works, the missing masterpiece done in the year 1996 and the great story ever sold as he worked as an art critic in BBC in the year 2006.  Media personalities should refrain from issuance of strong words that discriminate against other persons (Townson university website, 2017).

Change in programing

Proper scheduling in television networks helps the media houses to capture the vital times that their targeted audience are able to tune in. This can be achieved by considering the times that the audience is free. Program scheduling can be done considering the age of the targeted audience, content availability and demand. Programs can be prepared that are youth oriented. Such programs function to motivate and help them gain better morals. Youth oriented programs consider the age of the viewers (Charles 1990, p. 54). The youth are targeted as they are the ready consumers of information. Adverts that run in youth programs have a seventy percent market compared to the other age groups. Change in programing must also focus on the visual aspect of the media company. Utilization of up to date technology helps in pulling a ready audience. This can be achieved by utilizing modern graphics, better sound systems and better clarity cameras. This factor entails modernizing the media house so as to embrace the latest technological changes. Digitalization helps in growing the audience. With the digital development, many people are better equipped with smart phones that enable them to access the content online. Failure to digitalize a television network hampers the growth of the viewership. Digitalized media is able to reach a vast population all over the world. Political alignments have led to the reliability of various media houses to be compromised.

 


The media houses should act as a neutral ground for all the stakeholders. This factor contributes to the erosion of audience. Television networks such as BBC, CNN, ABC and NBC ought to act as neutral players. Persons who are of the divergent opinion are likely to move and watch alternative television networks as they feel better placed. The above companies being reputable current affairs television providers should strive to prevent alignment on political differences.  

Diversity in a television network helps to cater for the general public. The situation that was at BBC sometimes back had led it to lose viewership by it is members. Incorporating other members in the media industry helps the viewers to have a sense of ownership (Clint 1995, p. 93). This is because the diversity will be able to cater for the needs of the other cultures. BBC, CNN, Aljazeera etcetera should embrace diversity so that they are able to document better documentaries on the way of life of other persons.

 

References

Anders Hansen, 1998. Mass Communication Research Methods. First Edition Edition. NYU Press

Anthony J. Ferri, 1992. Teaching Mass Communication: A Guide to Better Instruction (Media and Communications; 34). Edition. Praeger.

Arthur Asa Berger, 1995. Essentials of Mass Communication Theory. 1 Edition. SAGE Publications, In

Bowcott Owen, 2012. The Guardian. London

Cees J. Hamelink, 1994. Mass Communication Research: On Problems and Policies (Communication and Information Science). Edition. Praeger

Charles K. Atkin, Lawrence Wallack -1990. Mass Communication and Public Health: Complexities and Conflicts (SAGE Focus Editions). 1 Edition. SAGE Publications, Inc

Clint C. Wilson, 1995. Race, Multiculturalism, and the Media: From Mass to Class Communication. 2nd Edition. SAGE Publications, Inc.

 David W. Park, ‎Jefferson Pooley - 2008. The History of Media and Communication Research: Contested Memories. 1st New edition Edition. Peter Lang Inc., International Academic Publishers.

Don W. Stacks PhD, 2016. Primer of Public Relations Research, Third Edition. 3 Edition. The Guilford Press

Francesco C. Billari, ‎Alexia Prskawetz - 2013. Agent-Based Computational Demography: Using Simulation to Improve Our Understanding of Demographic Behaviour (Contributions to Economics). 2003 Edition. Physica.

Gary S. Messinger, 2011. The Battle for the Mind: War and Peace in the Era of Mass Communication. Edition. University of Massachusetts Press

Indrajit Banerjee & Kalinga Seneviratne, 2006. Public Service Broadcasting in the Age of Globalization. 1st Edition. Asian Media Information and Communication Centre and Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Indrajit Banerjee, 2008. Asian Communication Handbook 2008. Edition. Asian Media Information & Communication Centre (AMIC)

Jan E. Leighley, 2003. Mass Media and Politics: A Social Science Perspective (New Directions in Political Behavior). 1 Edition. Cengage Learning

Khalil Rinnawi, 2006. Instant Nationalism: McArabism, al-Jazeera, and Transnational Media in the Arab World. Edition. UPA

Michael D. MurrayAnthony J. Ferri, 1992. Teaching Mass Communication: A Guide to Better Instruction (Media and Communications; 34). Edition. Praeger.

Nancy Weatherly Sharp, 2015. Communications Research: The Challenge of the Information Age. 1 Edition. Syracuse University Press

Rowland Lorimer, 1994. Mass Communications: A Comparative Introduction. Edition. Manchester Univ Pr.

Simon J. Potter, 2012. Broadcasting Empire: The BBC and the British World, 1922-1970. 1 Edition. Oxford University Press

Sherwyn P. Morreale, 2006. Human Communication: Motivation, Knowledge, Skills. 2 Edition. Cengage Learning

Stanley J. Baran, 2008. Mass Communication Theory: Foundations, Ferment, and Future. 5 Edition. Cengage Learning

Pippa Norris, 2002. Democratic Phoenix: Reinventing Political Activism. Edition. Cambridge University Press

Thomas Elsaesser, 1994. Writing for the Medium: Television in Transition (Film Culture in Transition). 1 Edition. Amsterdam University Press

Towson University. 2017. Department of Mass Communication & Communication Studies | Towson University. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.towson.edu/cofac/departments/communication/. [Accessed 07 April 2017]

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