Viewers Like You?: How Public TV Failed the People

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Columbia University Press, 2002 - Performing Arts - 288 pages
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How "public" is public television if only a small percentage of the American people tune in on a regular basis? When public television addresses "viewers like you," just who are you? Despite the current of frustration with commercial television that runs through American life, most TV viewers bypass the redemptive "oasis of the wasteland" represented by PBS and turn to the sitcoms, soap operas, music videos, game shows, weekly dramas, and popular news programs produced by the culture industries. Viewers Like You? traces the history of public broadcasting in the United States, questions its priorities, and argues that public TV's tendency to reject popular culture has undermined its capacity to serve the people it claims to represent. Drawing from archival research and cultural theory, the book shows that public television's perception of what the public needs is constrained by unquestioned cultural assumptions rooted in the politics of class, gender, and race.

 

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Contents

Oasis of the Vast Wasteland 23
The Quest to Cultivate 67
TV Viewing as Good Citizenship 105
Something for Everyone 141
Radicalizing Middle America 175
Public Television Popularity
INDEX 265
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About the author (2002)

Laurie Ouellette is assistant professor of media studies at Queens College, City University of New York. She has written for the Utne Reader, The Independent Film and Video Monthly, Cultural Studies, and Television and New Media, among other publications

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