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Media Presentation on Cable Television

3. Each ratings point represents 1,022,000 TV households (TVZapt2it, 2002, 1).

Even as more people (59%) get their news primarily from television, versus 23% from newspapers, "but the audience for network news isadropping. Fifteen years ago the CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News and ABC's World News Tonight together were watched in 41.2% of all American TV homes. Last season that combined audience sank to an all-time low of 26.1%" (Chidaya, 1996, 59). Why the decline? In general terms, it is the growth of cable television and its two main all-news channels, which can make news highlights as well as news in depth available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even for Americans traveling overseas. Cable news, therefore, is not limited to one specific time, but is available whenever viewers want to check on latest events.

Formed in 1980, with Headline news, its thirty-minute update version begun in 1981, "CNNa.tends to accomplish more on less money than its commercial broadcast counterparts. CNN's annual budget is $140 millionaabout half the size of the news budgets of ABC, CBS and NBC" (USIA, 1990, 2). While cable television viewers are far smaller than the general network numbers, they are growing over the past few years. And, the major growth comes from the age group most desired by advertisers- the 24-54 year-olds.

Why the viewer switch, other than availability? It was a slow switch at first, perhaps due to the lack of interest in network programming or re-runs on other cable channels, and the importance of international news. Of course, the September 11 terrorist attacks heightened viewer awareness, and while the networks did an outstanding job of coverage, the viewership on CNN increased 500% (Fox, the other news channel had a 300% jump). Until recently, viewers switched to cable news because there was not a cult of personality- with few exceptions, the news readers and correspondents were news people, not "pers...

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