Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lotz - Television Will Be Revolutionized

Lotz, Amanda D. The Television Will Be Revolutionized. New York: New York University Press, 2007.

Television has moved from the Network stage (1952-81), to the Multi-Channel Transitional Stage (1981-2000), to the Post-Network Era. Lotz argues not that networks will disappear or even won't remain the most important channels, but rather will have to evolve to their rapidly diminishing place on television. Similarly, she argues that television won't go away as a cultural concept but rather that the meaning of television has changed.

Ex. The answer to "What's on television?" Network stage: 3 scheduled choices designed for mass appeal. Multi-Channel Transitional Stage: multiple cable "flows" to surf through. Post-Network Era: liberated from schedule, what's on television might mean what is literally recorded on the DVR (or DVDs, or YouTube, or VOD, etc)

Lotz's discussion is interesting though not surprising for someone who has taken two BT courses on TV post-1980. This would make an excellent book for a television history course. It's chapters cover changes in technology of TV (2), changes in production (3), changes in distribution (4), changes in advertising (5), changes in measuring audience (6), and changes in storytelling possibilities (7).

One of my favorite thing Lotz does is briefly recognize how media theories about television have had to continually evolve as the medium itself has evolved. Raymond Williams's "flow" is no longer applicable when commercials are so easily skipped. Television as a mass medium has been fractured into niches. Still, at the close, she holds that Horace Newcomb's conclusion that "intimacy, continuity, and history were the elements that distinguished television and earned its status as popular art" still holds true, in transformed but somewhat more pronounced ways. (265)

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