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Beyond Ratings or Quality. Surpassing the Dilemma of Entertainment in Public Broadcasting
Unformatted Document Text:  13 have no material effects. Rather than involving solid descriptions of ‘reality’ or even of people’s ‘opinions’, they refer to discernible yet flexible frames, procedures, and rules; they justify specific decisions and actions within a given context. These frames, procedures, and rules may vary from one group to the next and like all mental patterns they are subject to historical change and prone to outside influence. Our analysis of the interviews with program makers and managers revealed that they, instead of relying on one vocabulary as Albers (1996) and Leggatt (1996b suggest, relied on five different ‘vocabularies’ to express quality. Above we already referred to the marketing vocabulary and the artist vocabulary; the other ones we identified are the artisan vocabulary, the teacher vocabulary, and the moderator vocabulary. These five modes of conceptualizing quality differ not so much in their quality dimensions as such – ‘authenticity’, for instance, is a value that counts in all five – but in their meaning, use and interpretation regarding different professional views on the role of the maker, the role of the audience, and the goal of the program. ‘Authenticity’ in an artisan vocabulary might refer to the use of ‘real people’, in an artistic repertoire it might refer to ‘unable to be parodied’, while a teachers vocabulary might value authenticity as ‘illuminating real life’ and in a moderator repertoire ‘a presenter’s involvement without irony’ could be appreciated as ‘authentic’. Strikingly, most program makers swiftly moved up and down between various vocabularies. In other words: they all seemed proficient in multiple quality languages. Most interviewees, however, also expressed clear quality preferences; even though they acknowledged multiple forms of quality, by largely speaking in one vocabulary they revealed which quality standards they valued in particular. Marketing vocabulary Given its focus on viewer ratings, the marketing vocabulary is popular with managers and executives who generally are not directly involved in the content of programming. But program makers who specialize in entertainment for a broad audience (game shows, soaps) are quite familiar with the language of marketing as well. In the context of public broadcasting this vocabulary might be better exploited as an instrument for generating more attention for programs that are considered important. So far, this vocabulary has met with so much resistance (notably from program makers who rather speak in terms of the artist vocabulary) that network managers and program makers who rely on this language are still frequently called upon to justify their professional choices. As one executive explained to us: If you would run this network as a normal company, you would discuss the broadcast schedule with your program makers. You

Authors: Meijer, Irene.
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have no material effects. Rather than involving solid descriptions of ‘reality’ or even of
people’s ‘opinions’, they refer to discernible yet flexible frames, procedures, and
rules; they justify specific decisions and actions within a given context. These frames,
procedures, and rules may vary from one group to the next and like all mental
patterns they are subject to historical change and prone to outside influence.
Our analysis of the interviews with program makers and managers revealed
that they, instead of relying on one vocabulary as Albers (1996) and Leggatt (1996b
suggest, relied on five different ‘vocabularies’ to express quality. Above we already
referred to the marketing vocabulary and the artist vocabulary; the other ones we
identified are the artisan vocabulary, the teacher vocabulary, and the moderator
vocabulary. These five modes of conceptualizing quality differ not so much in their
quality dimensions as such – ‘authenticity’, for instance, is a value that counts in all
five – but in their meaning, use and interpretation regarding different professional
views on the role of the maker, the role of the audience, and the goal of the program.
‘Authenticity’ in an artisan vocabulary might refer to the use of ‘real people’, in an
artistic repertoire it might refer to ‘unable to be parodied’, while a teachers vocabulary
might value authenticity as ‘illuminating real life’ and in a moderator repertoire ‘a
presenter’s involvement without irony’ could be appreciated as ‘authentic’.
Strikingly, most program makers swiftly moved up and down between various
vocabularies. In other words: they all seemed proficient in multiple quality languages.
Most interviewees, however, also expressed clear quality preferences; even though
they acknowledged multiple forms of quality, by largely speaking in one vocabulary
they revealed which quality standards they valued in particular.
Marketing vocabulary
Given its focus on viewer ratings, the marketing vocabulary is popular with managers
and executives who generally are not directly involved in the content of programming.
But program makers who specialize in entertainment for a broad audience (game
shows, soaps) are quite familiar with the language of marketing as well. In the
context of public broadcasting this vocabulary might be better exploited as an
instrument for generating more attention for programs that are considered important.
So far, this vocabulary has met with so much resistance (notably from program
makers who rather speak in terms of the artist vocabulary) that network managers
and program makers who rely on this language are still frequently called upon to
justify their professional choices. As one executive explained to us:
If you would run this network as a normal company, you would
discuss the broadcast schedule with your program makers. You


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