Television and the Remote Control: Grazing on a Vast Wasteland

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Guilford Press, 1996 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 192 pages
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With remote controls in more than 90% of U.S. homes, this device has single-handedly changed the way we watch television. No longer passive viewers, we have become television "users," able to exert greater control over the content of what we watch. In Television and the Remote Control, authors Bellamy and Walker provide the first comprehensive look at the remote control device and its significant impact on both television viewers and the television industry.
First, an overview places the diffusion of remote controls within the context of the history and economics of media industries, and from there the book explores the challenge of measuring remote control activity and presents the latest academic and industry research. Different viewer habits are described, such as "zapping" (using the remote control to avoid advertising and other undesirable content), "zipping" (avoiding content by fast-forwarding through recorded programming), and "grazing" (combining disparate program elements into an individualized program mix). The authors discuss the effects these behaviors have on television programming, promotion, and advertising. For example, many shows now lead directly into the next show with no advertising break between them, and ads have become shorter, with a rapid-fire pace that resembles the style of MTV.
Examining recent studies in remote control use, chapters feature time-saving tables for easy access to the major findings. Specific studies detail the motivations for and gender differences in remote control use, and their implications. The book concludes with a look at the remote control's role in the future of television.

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About the author (1996)

Robert V. Bellamy, Jr., is Associate Professor of Communication and Coordinator of the Division of Media Studies at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. His research interests include media programming, sports and media, and the impact of technological change on media industries. His work has appeared in such publications as the "Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media," "Journal of Communication," "Journalism Quarterly," and "Journal of Sports and Social Issues." He lives in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania, with wife Cathy and baby daughter Kate.
James R. Walker is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Mass Communications at Saint Xavier University, Chicago. His research interests center on the impact of newer technologies on media audiences, sports and media, and mass communication theory. His work has appeared in the "Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media," " Journalism Quarterly," "The Journal of Popular Culture," and "The Southern Communication Journal." He is a member of the editorial board of the" Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media."

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