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Prominence of Characters on Television Program Websites

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This study investigated the general distribution of gender, ethnicity, and age on broadcast TV networks' web pages and compared the distribution with on-air promotion of programs, and where possible, to U.S. Census. It also modified and tested a salience index, up to now used mainly for measuring the effectiveness of over-the-air television promotion, as a measure of character prominence on the web. As expected, images of prime-time characters on websites were predominantly male and White but somewhat less male and White than in on-air television overall. Frequency counts of images showed that websites foregrounded settled-adult characters more than younger characters, but applying an index of promotional salience revealed that extra visual attention was given to teens. In other words, determining which characters are featured depends on which image attributes are evaluated. These findings suggest that the salience index measures subtle attributes of prominence useful for assessing differential promotion.

Keywords: character salience; promotional websites; television websites

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, USA 2: Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA 3: University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, USA

Publication date: 2009-07-01

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