Why TV Is Not Our Fault: Television Programming, Viewers, and Who's Really in Control

Why TV Is Not Our Fault: Television Programming, Viewers, and Who's Really in Control

by Eileen R. Meehan

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For more than five decades, we've been told by pundits, commentators, advertisers, scholars, and politicians that television is both a window on the world and a mirror reflecting our culture. We've been led to believe that it shows us the world's events through news programs and, through entertainment programs, reflects the preferences, values, beliefs, and understandings shared by most Americans. We're told that if you don't like what you see on TV, don't blame the industry, blame yourself.

This book dispels the myth that the television industry is just giving viewers the programming they want to see and, thus, we as viewers are "responsible" for the existence of shows like Fear Factor and yet another Survivor. In fact, Eileen Meehan explains, viewers exert no demand in the market for ratings, advertising slots, program production, or telecasting. She also counters the idea that TV programs reflect our culture directly. Introducing us to the political economy of television, Meehan covers programming, corporate strategies, advertising, the misnomer of "competition" among networks, and organizations that seek more industry accountability. She tells us why TV isn't our fault—and who's really to blame.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781461647140
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 11/03/2005
Series: Critical Media Studies: Institutions, Politics, and Culture
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 160
File size: 658 KB

About the Author

Eileen R. Meehan is the Lemuel Heidel Brown Chair in Media and Political Economy at the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 1 The Blame Game
Chapter 2 2 Don't Blame the Viewers
Chapter 3 3 Competitors? Rivals? Collaborators?
Chapter 4 4 Star Trek, Synergy, and the Transindustrialization of Tribbles
Chapter 5 5 If Not the People... Who?
Chapter 6 References

What People are Saying About This

Douglas L. Battema

This is a really great, concise, and clearly written book. Meehan's insights are highly accessible—wish I'd had time to read this with an eye toward adopting in fall 2006!

Kate Kane

Brilliant, readable, and highly teachable.

Lisa M. McLaughlin

In Why TV Is Not Our Fault, Eileen Meehan effectively explodes the notion that television ratings represent accurate measures of the number of audience members who exercise their demands for specific programming in a free, competitive market. This cogent and incisive book offers a historically contextualized, unassailable argument that corporate—and not audience—interest is what counts in television programming. It is distinctive in exposing that 'audience measurements' are shaped by advertisers' and network and cable owners' shared demand for consumers that meet the appropriate upscale demographics. The book is a myth-busting, political-economic analysis of the confluence of television programming and the selling of consumers to advertisers through ratings. It is long overdue and essential reading for students and scholars interested in television studies, and—more broadly—the political economy of communication. I only regret that Why TV Is Not Our Fault cannot be made required reading for all television viewers.

Thomas Streeter

Meehan's timely book finally lays bare the facts about who controls television programming and how and why they do what they do. It once and for all puts to rest the claim that television executives simply 'give people what they want.' This is a serious and sophisticated scholarly book; Meehan carefully analyzes the economics and sociology of the industry to reach her conclusions. But she does so in an accessible way, without hiding behind jargon or intellectual obfuscation. Policymakers, industry professionals, and concerned citizens should all read this book—and will be glad they did.

Customer Reviews