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Open Television: Reality and Challenges of Television Programming

What is the context in which it currently moves, and what characteristics the programming presents.

It is a healthy and widely justified exercise in these five years of history of TV and Video magazine to stop along the way, especially if it is a medium that is experiencing a vertiginous process of historical acceleration and ask some questions related to the issue of television in Latin America.

To that extent and without ignoring the formidable technological revolution that has taken place in it and which other pages of this publication are most likely dealing with, we will leave aside the reality of digital television and the way producers in the region have assumed this great challenge, or the debate on the Internet considered as the great channel of technological convergence, to stop at the programming considered as the cousin of this massive medium to try to answer two questions related to it: What is the context in which it currently moves? What are the characteristics of the programming?

Twenty-first century television

Attempting to characterize the situation that the so-called "magic box" is going through is based on a truth that in this transition to the new millennium may sound excessively repeated: the transition of the audiovisual media in recent years has brought with it the accelerated growth of the number of channels, of the offer of programmes and of the modalities of access in such a way that today's television is no longer and will no longer be what it was before.

- Publicidad -

Latin America does not escape this reality. Since its installation on the continent between the 50s and towards the end of the following decade, its consolidation process has been crossed by the economic, political, social and cultural realities that mark this territory. In economic matters, despite the recession that is experienced at a general level, the presence of foreign investors in a relatively recent time as well as a strong injection of capital from the economic groups of the region, make some of the multimedia conglomerates manage to "survive" at this stage. An example of this reality is found in Colombia in the case of private channels, which make their appearance a year and a half ago, thanks to the support of economic groups, and which have gradually managed to position themselves.

Concern for television from the political sphere is no less important. In this sense, some "attempts" at policy formulation can be pointed out that seek to establish the "rules of the game" in this changing universe reflected in the different television modalities.

However, given the limited capacity of the states and their lack of will and clarity on the issue, the picture is not very flattering. The design of policies that know how to interpret the logic of the transformations of television and do not respond to short-term visions is today a pressing need.

The socio-cultural impact of this medium is, without a doubt, one of the most relevant concerns. Due to the great differences in Latin America precisely due to economic, political and social factors, it is necessary to speak of "televisions" in the plural when we try to talk about open television. In this context we find national, regional and local channels, among others.

Given the trajectory of the former and the extensive bibliography that has been written on their reality, the question of these other modalities considered as legitimized scenarios for the recognition of plurality and cultural heterogeneity and as key spaces for the construction of the so-called identity appears pertinent.

Gone are the times when citizens received the signal of one or two channels of national coverage: Gradually in the Latin American audiovisual space make their appearance in the 80s the regional channels considered as a dynamic element in the construction of this space and becoming proposals for television decentralization.

This is because, faced with the difficulty of finding their true meaning, and burdened by economic pressures, they have become copies of the national chains against which they experience a situation of inferiority. Proof of this is reflected in the design of the programming that appears as a poorly made imitation of genres and formats used in national television.

- Publicidad -

Television programming

In this half century of history we can point out some aspects related to programming. For a long time it was thought that the action of programming as well as the production of a genre, for example the telenovela, was something that was done following "mechanically" established rules. In the previous case it was a guarantee of success to have a cast headed by a renowned director, a successful librettist, an actress and an actor of great acceptance and a story adjusted to the grammar of the genre.

This perception has gradually begun to be overcome by the force of the facts because every day it is more proven that one of the characteristics of the programming is its condition of artistic activity where a very careful work is carried out with a series of strategically located products and their confrontations with the competition.

Continuing with the reflection within the genres we can see how the so-called "traditional" in the programming grid (newscasts, telenovelas, comedies and contests) are maintained. There will be others that excel to the extent that in a short time they have managed to "catch" specific audiences. These are cartoons designed for adults, and interactivity, considered more than a genre as a technological revolution present in certain genres such as contests, sports programs and particularly children's programming.

In the first case, we find series such as "The Simpsons" and "The Kings of the Hill" located in the primetime schedules of a high percentage of channels in Latin America. On the other hand, interactive television, considered an infallible strategy of seduction for a child and youth audience, appears to have become one of the bastions of the entertainment society. To that extent, and given the high profitability, technology providers remain in a permanent movement in search of that captive market.

An aspect closely related to the previous topic is that of audiences. These have undergone structural transformations due in part to the changes within the family and the multiplicity of the audiovisual offer that has brought with it processes of fragmentation of the same. The cable, considered as the great contender of the open televisions, little by little has been capturing an audience that comes from this previous modality and that formed the so-called "large audiences" which have been disappearing except for certain events, as is the case of sports broadcasts.

- Publicidad -

The need to formulate communication policies together with cultural policies, the competition with other televisions that forces producers and filmmakers of open television to think about a more accurate characterization of their programming and a greater knowledge of their audience to achieve a greater approach to their tastes, Customs and interests are some of the pressing tasks in a continent that is struggling in the midst of deep economic inequality and whose gap television can help close.

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