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The audience politics of enhanced television formats

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In this paper, we look beyond the textual implications of programmes where the audience has an on-screen role and consider the practice of television programme enhancement through voting, and the provision of spin-off products for mobile phone audiences. While creating options for audience engagement that are increasingly personalized and customized, enhanced television programmes engage in a neo-liberal rhetoric that erases the distinction between consumer and citizen. The juxtaposition of consumer and citizen is used to motivate television voting. Increasingly the programmes resort to the use of tactics that mirror party political electioneering to gain publicity and arouse public interest in the programmes. These tactics result in additional revenue for the telephone service provider, the broadcaster, the production company and for the vote processing company. While the jargon of nationalism aids the assimilation of global formats (Waisbord 2004), it is argued that participation in interactive television voting should be recognized as a commercial transaction, that the television hosts are salespeople for interactive services devised for voting, and that their rhetoric is predominantly a technique of persuasion aimed at motivating audiences to watch the programme and to lodge votes.

Keywords: enhanced television; formats; global formats; nationalization; participatory democracy; television voting

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Western Sydney.

Publication date: January 1, 2006

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  • The International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics is committed to analyzing the politics of communication(s) and cultural processes. It addresses cultural politics in their local, international and global dimensions, recognizing equally the importance of issues defined by their specific cultural geography and those that traverse cultures and nations.
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