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Beyond Ratings or Quality. Surpassing the Dilemma of Entertainment in Public Broadcasting
Unformatted Document Text:  19 image of “something” better to escape into, or something we want deeply that our day-to-day lives don’t provide. Alternatives, hopes, wishes – these are the stuff of utopia, the sense that things could be better, that something other than what is can be imagined and maybe realized’ (Dyer, 1992:18). If our society indeed generates loneliness, job-related exhaustion, uneven distribution of wealth and care, a sense of somberness and boredom, entertaining programs provide a certain relief. As one network manager suggested: Many sales reps come home exhausted from work, troubled by the fuss of annoying customers, and the first thing they do is watch the soap opera Good times, bad times (RTL-4) for in its world at least . . . something romantic takes place. Entertainment based on principles of representation and identification may give viewers the feeling that they belong or that they are represented on television. If a game show like Lingo portrays gays or those on social security as ‘ordinary people’, this contributes to the program’s representational quality. It renders minority groups ‘less strange’ (Lusted, 1998). The particular significance of this quality is underscored by the fact that today the media are at least as constitutive of reality as reality itself (Weimann, 2000). Moreover, members of the groups involved may value the same program because it allows them to identify with those portrayed. From the angle of the moderator vocabulary, therefore, a program’s quality in part depends on the exploitation of opportunities for identification and representation – on its contribution to normalizing difference and familiarizing viewers with otherness. In the words of one independent producer: When making Gold Coast [soap] some people from my village said to me that they could not identify with those rich kids who attend an expensive school, for they did not have the problems they had . . . Westenwind [light drama) is better because it provides more insight into a variety of milieus . . . and it takes each milieu equally seriously. Taken together, these four elements of moderating quality make visible a program’s contribution to, what I would call, a more democratic visual culture, which allows the entire audience, rather than just the elites, to identify with the images and stories, while also being exposed to alternative lifestyles. Programs should provoke interaction and provide points of reference on how (not) to live. Even Jerry Springer’s talk show, despite its being repudiated by many, has quality in this respect (Costera Meijer & Van Dijck, 2001). In Conclusion

Authors: Meijer, Irene.
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19
image of “something” better to escape into, or something we want deeply that our
day-to-day lives don’t provide. Alternatives, hopes, wishes – these are the stuff of
utopia, the sense that things could be better, that something other than what is can
be imagined and maybe realized’ (Dyer, 1992:18). If our society indeed generates
loneliness, job-related exhaustion, uneven distribution of wealth and care, a sense of
somberness and boredom, entertaining programs provide a certain relief. As one
network manager suggested:
Many sales reps come home exhausted from work, troubled by the
fuss of annoying customers, and the first thing they do is watch the
soap opera Good times, bad times (RTL-4) for in its world at least . .
. something romantic takes place.
Entertainment based on principles of representation and identification may give
viewers the feeling that they belong or that they are represented on television. If a
game show like Lingo portrays gays or those on social security as ‘ordinary people’,
this contributes to the program’s representational quality. It renders minority groups
‘less strange’ (Lusted, 1998). The particular significance of this quality is underscored
by the fact that today the media are at least as constitutive of reality as reality itself
(Weimann, 2000). Moreover, members of the groups involved may value the same
program because it allows them to identify with those portrayed. From the angle of
the moderator vocabulary, therefore, a program’s quality in part depends on the
exploitation of opportunities for identification and representation – on its contribution
to normalizing difference and familiarizing viewers with otherness. In the words of
one independent producer:
When making Gold Coast [soap] some people from my village said
to me that they could not identify with those rich kids who attend an
expensive school, for they did not have the problems they had . . .
Westenwind [light drama) is better because it provides more insight
into a variety of milieus . . . and it takes each milieu equally
seriously.
Taken together, these four elements of moderating quality make visible a
program’s contribution to, what I would call, a more democratic visual culture, which
allows the entire audience, rather than just the elites, to identify with the images and
stories, while also being exposed to alternative lifestyles. Programs should provoke
interaction and provide points of reference on how (not) to live. Even Jerry Springer’s
talk show, despite its being repudiated by many, has quality in this respect (Costera
Meijer & Van Dijck, 2001).
In Conclusion


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