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Black and white, male and female: Racial and Gender Differences in Adolescents' TV Diets
Unformatted Document Text:  Black and White 3 The world of television has changed dramatically over the past two decades as technological developments have resulted in many more channels and greater access than any generation previously has experienced. Recent studies have found that two thirds of young people (8 to 18 years old) have a television set in their bedrooms, and many of these sets are hooked up to cable TV and VCRs or DVDs (Roberts, 2000). As channel capacity and access have increased, the television industry has created networks and channels targeted to more narrowly defined audience segments, based on both basic demographic categories such as age, race and gender, as well as interests and activities, so that now we have cable channels for everybody from sports fans to shoppers and news hounds. Whole channels and programs have been developed primarily to appeal to younger audiences segmented by race and gender. Following the lead of MTV and the Black Entertainment Network, the WB, UPN, and Fox have created a stable of programs designed especially for adolescents, with much more programming than ever before aimed specifically at different racial and gender groups. The basic premise of segmented programming is that viewers will choose programs that feature people who are like them (and will buy the products advertised). From a marketer’s point of view it is an advantage to have a relatively narrowly defined audience so products can be pitched more precisely to the specific needs and desires of that audience. From the consumer’s point of view the programming is more relevant to their lives because it features people, situations, and dilemmas similar to their own. From a cultural point of view, however, audience segmentation could have the undesirable effect of reducing exposure to other generations, alternative viewpoints and values, and perhaps reducing what might be called the common culture. As Wilson and Gutierrez (1995) suggest, “The media, rather than trying to find commonalities among diverse groups in the mass audiences, classify the differences and ways to capitalize on those differences

Authors: Brown, Jane. and Pardun, Carol J.
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Black and White
3
The world of television has changed dramatically over the past two decades as
technological developments have resulted in many more channels and greater access than any
generation previously has experienced. Recent studies have found that two thirds of young people
(8 to 18 years old) have a television set in their bedrooms, and many of these sets are hooked up
to cable TV and VCRs or DVDs (Roberts, 2000). As channel capacity and access have increased,
the television industry has created networks and channels targeted to more narrowly defined
audience segments, based on both basic demographic categories such as age, race and gender,
as well as interests and activities, so that now we have cable channels for everybody from sports
fans to shoppers and news hounds. Whole channels and programs have been developed primarily
to appeal to younger audiences segmented by race and gender. Following the lead of MTV and
the Black Entertainment Network, the WB, UPN, and Fox have created a stable of programs
designed especially for adolescents, with much more programming than ever before aimed
specifically at different racial and gender groups.
The basic premise of segmented programming is that viewers will choose programs that
feature people who are like them (and will buy the products advertised). From a marketer’s point of
view it is an advantage to have a relatively narrowly defined audience so products can be pitched
more precisely to the specific needs and desires of that audience. From the consumer’s point of
view the programming is more relevant to their lives because it features people, situations, and
dilemmas similar to their own. From a cultural point of view, however, audience segmentation
could have the undesirable effect of reducing exposure to other generations, alternative viewpoints
and values, and perhaps reducing what might be called the common culture. As Wilson and
Gutierrez (1995) suggest, “The media, rather than trying to find commonalities among diverse
groups in the mass audiences, classify the differences and ways to capitalize on those differences


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