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Studio audience discussion programmes: an analysis of viewers' preferences and involvement

Livingstone, Sonia ORCID: 0000-0002-3248-9862, Wober, M. and Lunt, Peter (1994) Studio audience discussion programmes: an analysis of viewers' preferences and involvement. European Journal of Communication, 9 (4). pp. 355-379. ISSN 0267-3231

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0267323194009004001


A nationally representative sample (of some 3000 people aged 12 and over) was asked if they watched studio audience discussion programmes and, if so, how often and with what degree of appreciation. The 500 people who had seen such programmes (shown in morning hours or other off-peak times) were asked to indicate their perceptions of and involvement in the genre on 33 response items. In order to identify why and how viewers watch and participate in this emerging (sub)genre, these judgements were analysed using factor analysis and multiple regression. This large-scale survey tended to support findings from smaller, qualitative studies of the genre, revealing viewers' scepticism of the experts, their sense of involvement in the genre, their cautious acceptance of the genre as a putative mass mediated public sphere, and their interest in hearing the voices of ordinary experience. The advantage of a survey, however, is that audience reception could also be analysed in terms of viewers' age, gender and class. Viewers' age was the main differentiating factor, with older viewers being more critical of the debates and more respectful of the experts on the programmes. In general, the appeal of the programmes, and the amount of respect accorded to experts compared to ordinary participants, depended in part on how seriously viewers regarded the programmes as public debates rather than pure entertainment. Similarities and differences between the British and American versions of the genre were also discussed.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 1994 The Authors
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2016 12:38
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2021 11:06

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