Section B: Institutions & Audiences
AS Media Studies
1. Explore the production, distribution, marketing and exchange and relate
to contemporary media institutions.
2. Explore the nature of audience consumption and the relationships
between audiences and institutions.
You will need to become familiar with:
• the issues raised by media ownership in contemporary media practice;
• the importance of cross media convergence and synergy in production,
distribution and marketing;
• the technologies that have been introduced in recent years at the levels of
production, distribution, marketing and exchange;
• the significance of proliferation in hardware and content for institutions and
• the importance of technological convergence for institutions and
• the issues raised in the targeting of national and local audiences
(specifically, British) by international or global institutions;
• the ways in which the candidates’ own experiences of media consumption
illustrate wider patterns and trends of audience behaviour.
• Studies of specific studios or production companies within
a contemporary film industry that targets a British
audience (e.g. Hollywood, Bollywood, UK film), including
its patterns of production, distribution, exhibition and
consumption by audiences.
• This will be accompanied by study of contemporary film
distribution practices (digital cinemas, DVD, HD-DVD,
downloads, etc.) and their impact upon production,
marketing and consumption.
Starter Activity: What do you know about
Institutions and Audiences?
1) List five media sectors and one leading profit-
making company for each
2) Name two Hollywood film companies
3) Name two independent film companies
4) What is OFCOM?
5) What is MP4?
6) How do websites that offer content for free
7) Who decides on age classifications for films?
8) Who are BARB and what do they do?
• Have a clear understanding of what’s meant by ‘Institution’
• Simply, companies which provide media content; this may be:
• Internet based
• Interactive (e.g. games)
How many can you list?
• Group them under the following headings:
• All are making money for providing a product or service
• All have customers / consumers whom they rely on for profits
Public vs Commercial
• Some media institutions are publically owned, whilst others are
• What are the differences between the BBC and Warner Bros?
Jot down ideas in terms of:
• What they can / should / must provide
• Who their consumers are
• Who they’re accountable to
How companies provide their “media
• In the “old days”, one company provided one type of media for
one platform. A newspaper printed its stories on paper and
sold them. A film company made a film and showed it in a
• Can you think of how that might be different today?
KEY TERM: Convergence
• This is all about how things join together
• In Media there are two types of convergence
• This is when products are produced and distributed
across two different platforms
Why audiences are important
• Shops and businesses are accountable to their customers – if
they don’t give them what they want, they won’t buy
products and make any money
• Audiences are exactly the same – they control the flow of
• Audiences have changed over time, and tracing this change
helps us to understand why a modern-day audience is
How do you think audiences have changed?
1960s Audience 2012 Audience
“The concept formally known as the
•This phrase is used to describe ways that
people now engage with the media. It
shows how the idea of the audience is
now considerably different to how it was
in the pre-digital era.
Media of the (recent) past:
• TV was broadcast through a few analogue channels; radio was
only available through a wireless receiver; films were only
available at a cinema (or broadcast on TV); music was only
available to purchase in shops, initially on gramophone records.
• Audiences were passive consumers: they sat and
watched/listened to whatever was put in front of them.
• Try tracing through the stages the following media have gone
through from their original inception to their current use.
What is Web 2.0?
• Web 2.0 describes a new phase of the internet which allows us
to create material and distribute it to one another.
• What ways can we make our own media? List a few ideas:
Key Shift in Audience Behaviour
• Our ability to create our own media has changed the way we,
as audiences, behave.
• We don’t just soak up the media we’re presented with, we
create it ourselves.
• Remember these?
They still exist but are less
• We’re encouraged to make our own media products online –
upload videos to youtube, write on blogs, create our own news
stories: this is all part of Web 2.0
Key Example: Wikipedia
• Content is created and edited by users with minimal control.
Alongside Web 2.0:
• Creative Commons: this allows users to create their own
products for use online whilst retaining some copyright.
• Open Source Software: programmes like Mozilla Firefox make
the code freely available for others to use and manipulate.
• This means people can create add-ons to software, e.g. ad
blockers, twitter feeds, etc
All this links to Democracy
• What is democracy?
• What does it give every citizen?
Democracy = freedom
• What is the opposite of democracy?
• Removes freedom
• How the internet used to be – you needed special knowledge
and skills to be able to produce web-based content
• Internet media was pushed onto consumers
Web 2.0 shows the Democratisation of
• The internet community has a collective voice and power which
helps to change and influence the content of what’s on the
• There are no gate keepers such as news editors or magazine
editors selecting the stories for us.
• This means all content on the web has the same opportunity
for exposure or discovery as everything else. For example, an
outspoken blog or a school podcast has the same chance of
reaching an audience as an article in The Times newspaper or a
government online site. This is not just a one way process.
• Democratisation of the media means that anyone and
everyone can have a say - via a blog or forum - in what is
thought to be important, interesting or relevant or
entertaining. There is almost no censorship, other than the
laws of the country, and no filtering from unknown voices or
institutions. It is the raw data from the people to the people.
How does this impact on Film Production?
• Jot down some ideas.
• Big media institutions have the last laugh.
• The sites we use the most for UGC (user-generated
content) such as Myspace, Youtube or Blogger are
owned by large companies. News Corporation owns
Myspace and Google owns Youtube and Blogger.
• They were making billions in the Web 1.0 phase and
Web 2.0 doesn’t stand in their way.
• Why? Advertising revenues ensure that whilst users are busy
interacting with material online, they are exposed to as much
(if not more) advertising as when they were watching TV and
• We also need to consider that only 0.16% of youtube visitors
upload video, 0.2% of Flickr visitors upload photos and only
4.59% of users edit wikipedia.
• Does this mean we are truly in a new phase? Is Web 2.0 where
we really are? Or is it better to see us in a phase of Web 1.5?
• Web 2.0 is an ideal situation where everyone has freedom and
creates their own content online.
• However, we are not at that stage completely because very few
people make their own content and upload it.
• We think we have lots of freedom but big institutions like
Google have the power.
Digital Media Changed Everything…
..for both producers of media and their audiences. There are
several reasons for this:
• Development of technology
• Technology coming together (convergence)
• User-created content
• Social networking
These influences have resulted in audience fragmentation
• Audience groups are broken up due to things like the internet,
downloadable material, or video-on-demand (VOD).
How do you think the Guardian’s
audiences have fragmented?
Example - newspapers
• Audience is no longer the person who has it delivered through
their letterbox in the morning
• The audience is a combination of paper-copy readers, online
readers, iPhone readers, podcasts…etc.
• One large audience becomes smaller niche audiences.
• Big audience falls apart
• Falls together in other ways
• Audiences grouped together in small clusters:
• Podcast audience
• Online audience
• App audience
• Paper newspaper audience
This is called DUALITY
• The Guardian know their big audience is now in small clusters
• They provide different content for each one
• Converging media can lead to both control by media producers
and resistance by consumers, who now get to produce their
Key changes as a result of this:
The media world changes from a value chain to a social network.
Value chain: products made and distributed to audiences
Social network: a complex system where producers and
audiences are mixed up
From push to pull
• We can also describe this change as the shift from ‘push’
media (where producers push media at us and where we
consume it), to ‘pull’ media (where we decide what we want
to do with the media and access it in ways that suit us).
• KEY TERMS: Pull Media & Push Media
• These changes have been described by John Naughton as a
new ‘ecosystem’. He says that it is:
“richer, more diverse and immeasurably more complex
because of the number of content producers, the density of
the interactions between them and their products, the speed
with which actors in this space can communicate with one
another and the pace of development made possible by
• Research one of the techniques you recorded on your
timeline (work and ELT from last week).
• Write some notes on its use, impact on film, etc. Make
sure you include some examples.
• Due: Monday 5th January 2015