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Drive-By Programming Niche Marketing to the Channel Surfer on TNT, MTV, and CNN

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This article explores a fairly recent trend in cable programming: “drive-by programming.” In response to the proliferation of channels and the potential for channel surfing that has accompanied the narrowcasting of contemporary cable television, some networks have regularly employed a programming scheme that directly targets the roving viewer. Looking at MTV, TNT, and CNN, this article examines the ways in which this new programming scheme has impacted both programming choices and program content, including MTV’s movement to reality television and the repetitive story-telling practices of both TNT and CNN. These case studies demonstrate the consequences of drive-by programming for the contemporary media environment, illustrating the particularly detrimental effects of CNN’s drive-by practices on the kinds of news stories the network tells.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 October 2003

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  • EME explores the relationships between media, technology, symbolic form, communication, consciousness, and culture. Its scope is interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary. Media ecology provides a rich philosophical, historical and practical context for studying our increasingly technological and mediated society and culture with an emphasis on historical context.
    Media ecology scholarship emphasizes a humanistic approach to understanding media, communication, and technology, with special emphasis on the ways in which we have been and continue to be shaped and influenced by our inventions and innovation. The Media ecology approach is predicated on understanding that media, symbols, and technologies play a leading role in human affairs, and function as largely invisible environments affecting the way we think, feel, act, and organize ourselves collectively.
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