Television viewing has become a very common thing in the entire world today. In fact, Television viewing is perceived to be having the largest audience as compared to any other forms of media. In the current media ecosystem the content in televisions is distributed through various platforms such as wed, TDT, mobiles and so on. This has provided an increased level of interactivity that has led to an increase in the level of connections of programs and networks with television audiences. Public and commercial broadcasters are both developing cross media processes that lead to the enhancement of audience participation. These networks provide a variety of initiatives that enable the audience to engage through sharing, promoting, criticizing and commenting on programs and at the same time elaborating their material or even getting involved in production, design or even the distribution of the television content. The paper will look at the ways through which television audiences are active. The television audience that will be focused on is that in Australia.
For regular television viewers a mere glance at the TV set is enough to reveal the latest developments in a narrative form whether it is a narrative in the news or a favorite soap opera. The meanings of what is broadcasted appear given and they are unavoidable they are often in existence within the program and they come out as one watches. Taking these meanings into account it means that watching television by the audience is just a routine and a process that is effortless by the audience. Therefore the process of viewing television is often termed as a relaxing and mindless experience .even though during the early years of television it was new and starling it has now rapidly become wallpaper in most homes attracting a very large audience. There are several strategies of audience participation through cross media activities that promote the different audience images. These can be categorized into different roles such as consumers, citizens, collaborators, players, fans, commentators, activists and benefactors.
The active audience
Human beings are termed either as active or passive with regards to their environment. Whether under the influence of hegemony and sociological theories, research shows that media has an effect on a change in attitude or behavior. The audience is therefore regarded as homogeneous and vulnerable which means that it can be manipulated easily in the face of an all-pervasive and powerful mass media like television (Hearn, 2011). The active audience theory brings the argument that an audience does not juts receive information presented to it passively rather, it is actively involved often in an unconscious way in making sense out of the message within their own social and personal contexts ( Hennerberger, Xu & Franklin, 2001).The decoding of messages that the audience received is often influenced by things like values, education, interest, experience and so on.
There are three arguments that are put across for active engagement of audiences with the mass media particularly the television. First of all the audience are expected to interpret what they have seen in order for them to construct as something that is orderly and meaningful regardless of how routine the interpretation might be. Secondly the audience should make sure they diverge in whatever they interpret thus leading to a generation of understanding from the particular text. Third, the viewing experience is at the interface between the televisions (and how they interpret the information) and the lives of the rest of the viewers with all the experiences, concerns and knowledge involved. Viewers can therefore be distinguished based on whether they orient to the content or the medium used and whether they experience a freedom sense and control or lack this altogether (Livingstone, 2000).
Audience participation in television
The current system of broadcasting in Australia and the rest of the world have undergone changes in various aspects that have shaped its structure and functioning. These changes include number of channels and the platforms of distribution. For instance in Australia there is the national broadcasters, main commercial broadcasters, regional and remote area commercial broadcasters and community and discontinued channels. Apart from this there is also the innovation in the business models and formats, politics as well as the regulation of the audiovisual industry. There has also been a renewed relationship between the media like television and its audience.
We can say that television in Australia is now benefiting from the advantages that are being provided by internet use, through the incorporation of online services and the use of web as a new way through which viewer participation can be enhanced. The implementation of HbbTV system will pave way for the integration of the television set that has access to web hence leading to the enhancement of TV viewing and making it more interactive. The increased synergies between the internet and television has led to the rise of innovative ways of considering the audiences roles and leading to the amplification of the reception of programs. Interactive technologies are now transforming the mode of communication between the television and its audience.it has also led to an increase in the opportunity for the audiences to give their feedback as well as their engagement with programs.
Audience participation is the feedback that is provided by broadcasters through the combination of traditional systems as well as new technologies. This encompasses ways like voting via SMS for a specific candidate in reality shows, or even calling in during a talk show in order to give an opinion. Most of the voting shows are termed as commercial transactions where the presenters are sellers who go about exhibiting persuasive rhetoric that seeks to engage the audience and viewers at large. This can be through using sites that are associated with programs where there is a live engagement of the audience in chats and forums. There can also be initiatives such as those for supporting the production of a program financially through donations.in Australia and the rest of Europe audience participation grew significantly in the nineties with the setting of neotelevision. This was achieved through putting viewers at the center of programming and giving them the chance of being involved in voting for their stars, discussion programs and so on. Therefore when it comes to how the television audiences are active several factors are considered. These factors are how the TV broadcasters are viewing the audience and thus will lead to the behavior of the audience and hence their participation.TV audiences are active but this depends on which category they are in .the categories are further discussed below.
When the broadcast managers take viewers as consumers they aim to increase their participation through various initiatives that are aimed at buying of products, interaction with commercials, sending SMS, draw participation betting and so on.TV channels can foster the acquisition of products from their own brand as well as a new income source. For instance in ABC kids have TV programs where users can buy a specific program in DVD or even melodies of children programs. There are also channels that broadcast sports that promote draws and viewers can participate through calling or sending messages.an example of such a TV channels is ABC 1 ( Garcia-Aviles, 2012).
There are also game shows such as deal or no deal whereby members of the public plays a game that involves facing trials for money and prizes. With the emerging interactive nature of television programs and audience the experience of the game is not limited to participate that are inside the studio only. The audience watching the show can also play along or even together with the spectators. A strategy that is increasingly being used by reality shows is voting that will make the audience get hooked to the program and let them be part of the programs outcome (Garcia-Aviles, 2012).
The strategy of involving citizens intends to involve the viewers in cultural, communicative, political as well as social processes which will build their rights as individuals as well as sparking their implication in the society. Through this an emphasis is on the contribution of the citizens when it comes to supervising decisions, messages, and policies of government officials and political leaders. This also enhances taking active roles in the current affairs outcomes ( Garcia-Aviles, 2012).
The collaborative participation strategy is on the basis of using different platforms for the distribution of content is a manner that is more effective for the development of a conversation that is more fluid with the public at large. Here, the broadcasters normally invite audience to send in their contributions in an audiovisual format. This indicates that they are taking advantage of the new technologies are offering like cameras, home videos and mobile tools which can capture and record sound and images that enable the audience produce audiovisual material with no knowledge whatsoever. Users might be encouraged to promote their content in some particular programs hence increasing the value chain of what they produce. This is what happens mostly in comedy…