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Exposure to Private Channels’ Infotainment Programs and Viewers’ Perceptions: Exploring Uses and Gratification Model (Chapter 2)

Chapter 2
Literature Review

John Hartley (1996) presents a compelling argument that television provides a mechanism for communicating across class, gender, ethnic, national, and other boundaries and allows the audience to become citizens of symbolic communities with a politics produced and sustained in the interstices of drama serials, nature documentaries and current affairs, or in the relationships between certain stars, styles or music and their fans.
Electronic media in Pakistan is becoming more and more powerful in present scenario. Pakistani media is spreading education, information and powerful entertainment. Media provide information by bringing latest News of events and developments to the viewers. In recent past, Pakistani media especially electronic media has grown rapidly and it has expanded its reach to maximum viewers. This has been achieved through continuous struggle with long history of efforts.At present media keep us informed and aware of even the tiniest detail about our politicians and their misdeeds. Role performed by Pakistani media can be categorized separately i.e. disseminating information, providing entertainment with prime motto to create awareness among the masses regarding vital civic issues and also providing a line of action for the rulers (Mahsud,2006).
According to Leonard, (1999) Benjamin Franklin, was a founding father of infotainment, as he used to write news as ballads and sold them on the streets of Boston. Schlosser (2000) concluded that thetelevision is changing dramatically so that “there are no rules in what is going to work and what’s not.” By considering infotainment as a genre and by analyzing the range of sub-genres from which it may be constituted, it is then possible to interrogate how infotainment is actually used by audiences and what impact it is having on public discourse.Similarlyaccording to Westhaver (2004) “news has become more interesting than movies, dramas and other such contents. Contemporary era has witnessed increased response of people toward infotainment programs.”Trend of Infotainment programs is going more and more, as quick glance of the “news stories” presented in infotainment programs look like listing at a theatre (cited athttp://dondwest.hubpages.com/ hub/Infotainment-Media RDT 13 June 2012).
The humor of late-night television takes many forms and has its roots in severaldifferent comedic traditions. One such form is satire. Though some may be offended bysatirical comments, they have been employed since the beginning of time in manydifferent societies (Mills, 1995). During themonologue, late-night hosts use politicians, candidates for political office, and otherpublic figures as their sources for jokes. Late-night hosts point out their shortcomingsand mistakes.Another form of comedy found in late-night television is cross talk (Neale and Krutnik, 1990).
Humor and comedy are popular forms of entertainment in today’s mass mediaindustry. Late-night television has all the different combinations of humor, satire,parody, and comedy that appeal to a wide audience (Harris, 1999). It is the differentcombinations of comedy and late-night televisions’ use of comedy in general, appealsto many viewers. Late-night television’s popularity is linked to its humor. Politicalcontests are full of generalities and stereotypes in which the message and context mayhave broader cultural significance (Schutz, 1996). Late-night hosts just have to be surenot to cross the line when choosing the targets for their jokes.
In a research “Are Television News Programs Becoming Nothing More Than Infotainment” by Nicole Morell (2007) found that since 1980 focus of media has shifted from message maker to message receiver and this trend is still alive in today’s media. However at present time the audience’s preference for news show over another may stem from the person delivering the news. If all three network broadcasts are essentially alike, and it comes down to which anchorman you trust most. This article focused on association of viewers with anchor and it concluded from finding that viewers like few anchors more frequently comparing other anchors. Styles used in the past are still popular today as few anchors has high level of credibility and believability comparing other anchors (Cited at http://digitalcommons.uri.edu/ srhonorsprog/51 RDT 18 Jan 2012).

Many studies have linked demographics to media exposure and media motivation. Cress and Rapert (1996) found that gender determined exposure to talk shows—but not to viewing motives. O’Keefe and Spetnagel (1973) found that male college students had higher media exposure levels than females, and Vincent and Basil (1997) found being male linked to higher surveillance needs and higher levels of exposure to newspaper and broadcast news. Salwen and Anderson (1984) founded that ethnicity and gender were not strong predictors of tabloid-media motivations. Finally, Blumler (1979) demonstrated that being male was positively associated with the surveillance and curiosity motives—but negatively to diversion. Other studies focus primarily on the association between media use and demographics. Robinson (1978) found that older adults were more likely to use both newspapers and TV news, while younger users were more likely to use neither. Atkin, Galloway and Nayman (1976) found that education and socioeconomic status (SES) were associated with newspaper readership, but not TV news exposure. Pew (2000) demonstrated that, in terms of college graduates under the age of 50, more were using online news than nightly network news.
According to Bryant and Miron (2002) “as soon as the struggle for survival left human groups need sufficient time for relaxation or some form of communication. Media has taken the role of story teller in shape of infotainment programs.”As it has been learned from the concept of relaxation and escaping from struggle for survival, the experience of infotainment media is closely attached with the society.Similarly many scholars like Singhal et al., 2004; Slater &Rouner, 2002; and Sood, 2002) acknowledge the efficiency of entertainment media in attracting viewers’ attention.
In a dissertation Paul T. Alonso (2012) analyzed the discourse of three infotainment television shows built around their hosts. These shows include (American Jon Stewart (host of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart); British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen (the actor who incarnates the popular characters Borat, Bruno, and Ali G in the Da Ali G Show), and Peruvian Jaime Bayly (host of the Peruvian TV show El Francotirador/The Sniper). These three shows responded to their specific national, cultural, social, and political contexts, while simultaneously demonstrating important similarities: anchors parody journalistic genres while questioning traditional journalism authority and arbitrary media norms; they use humor to develop political, social, and cultural critiques; and they revolve around a talented character who is a media celebrity. This analysis also seeks to reveal how Stewart challenges the mainstream news media by exposing the difficulties of debate in the U.S.; how the subaltern voices of Ali G, Bruno, and Borat position Sacha Baron Cohen to confront hegemonic culture and identity; and how ambiguity and contradiction allow Bayly to be a transgressor in a society where entertainment has a particular political history. This research establishes commonalities and differences among these three representative cases in relation to the broader, global phenomenon of satiric infotainment, and introduces the notion of “critical infotainment” to characterize this satiric trend that combines entertainment, comedy, journalism, popular culture, and politics to develop social critique.
According to a report from the Pew Research Center for People and the Press (2004) nighttime comedy programs and other “soft news” shows have only recently become topics of interest as well as focus of research. The use of unconventionaltechniques as a mechanism to propagate political contents has gained great attention and with this popularity of the late-night comedy shows is on the rise. In spite of the fact that such media has not been typically used as outlets for political information in the past, late at night entertainment programs are becoming increasingly prominent venues for political information. What makes this genre unique as a source of political communication is the method of conveying information through comedy and mockery. This popularity inspired studies exploring the relationship between humor and politics, the interaction between the two elements, and the consequences of their intersection. More and more young people are turning away from traditional media as a source for political information to late night comedies. According to research by Kloer&Jubera (2000) it was found that 47% of people between the age of 18 and 29 were relying on late-night entertainment or other soft news sources as their primary source of political information before the 2000 presidential election.
Baum (2005) examines the impact of infotainment talk show, interviews during the 2000 election cycle and postulated that such interviews have an impact on viewers who are usually unengaged in the political process. Baum has also argued that “Discourses of news, politics, and entertainment have grown deeply devoted; the languages and practices of each have lost their characteristics and being melded into previously unimagined combinations.” This trend is getting popularity,although some may see this as a dangerous trend in the field of political communication, it also can be seen as a rethinking of discursive styles and standards that may be opening spaces for significant innovation.
In a research study (2010) “Viewers’ Perceptions of The Daily Show” explained viewers’ perceptions about The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The Daily Show is a self-depiction 30-minute “fake news” show that has been on aired for over a decade in UK. The Daily Show provides satire and commentary on politics, political figures and media. In the study qualitative methods in focus groups and in-depth interviews to examine individual viewer’s perceptions of The Daily Show were used for comparison with more traditional news sources. Another objective was to appraise the viewer’s perceptions about The Daily Show it its altitude peak on their citizenship and awareness of current socio-political events. The most significant findings of this study include: 1) the perception that viewership of The Daily Show is primarily bring forth for entertainment and secondly for informative purposes, while viewership of traditional and more informative news sources is perceived as an act of grace, 2) participants affirm that The Daily Show may affect other viewer’s political awareness, participation and citizenship, yet largely denied any similar effects on themselves, and 3) The Daily Show was perceived as a gateway for increased interest in political participation and citizenship, by a demographic group normally considered to be impassive in regard to such issues. This study provided new insight into how viewers perceive both the nature and impact of The Daily Show and the qualitative methods utilized were unique when compared to the existing body of research.
In a research study “Enjoying Political News” Aaron Quanbeck and Deborah White Minnesota (2008) of State University Moorhead assembled uses and gratifications theory to consider the impact of people’s enjoyment of political news: political ideology, partisanship, perceptions of media bias, and a preference for sources that support currently held beliefs. A group of 1,430 adults completed a telephone interview conducted by the Pew Research Center as part of its Political Communication Survey. The Bi-variate analyses were conducted between independent variables and the dependent variable. In addition, ordinal regression was used to further analyze the relationship among the variables. Enjoyment in following political news varies greatly among individuals. This study sought to canvass variables that can predict how much people enjoy news about political campaigns. The results showed that certain variables play a significant role in ascertain levels of enjoyment people experience from keeping up to date on political news. Study indicated that those who perceived the greatest amount of media diagonal reported higher levels of enjoyment in staying along by the coverage of political campaign. Also, as individuals clap eyes on media to be more biased, their enjoyment levels in political news went up. It was also found that it is not so much a person’s political ideology that comes into play when determining levels of enjoyment in following political news, but rather their choice of news sources and their perception of media bias. These variables could possibly be working together to abandon the impact of political ideology on a person’s enjoyment of political news.
In a research study “To Entertain, Inform, and Educate”: Still the Role of Public Television Christina Holtz-Bacha and Pippa Norris (2001) explored the traditional roles of media in golden age. Data was collected through a cross national survey. Findings explored that in many countries of Europe privatelyowned news and entertainment television Channels has made a successful entry into the market and gained significant popularity among audience. Citizens get most of their knowledge about politics through the media rather than through personal experience. Repeated exposure to these programs also increases people’s levels of information. Findings of the study also supported the fact that entertainment portion in private channels in increasing day by day as people have increasingly become interested in such contents rather than documentaries, soaps and current affairs. It was also found that people consider that increase in TV channels will also increase the entertainment portion (Cited at http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/ title content=t713774515 RDT 15 Mar 2012).
In a research article “Entertaining Television” J. M. Chan (2004) concluded thatsince late 1990s entertainment television have become one of the most important constituent of Chinese abreast culture and it is also fact that that journalism today is taking so many hints from entertainment. Chan explored previously held studied and found several admirable efforts to explore television entertainment (Chen, 1998; Chen &Hao, 1997-98; Laull, 1991; Rofel, 1994, 1995; Wang &Singhal, 1992; Zha, 1995; Zhao, 1998). Chan found that textual or audience aspect about entertainment programs is prioritized. Increase in infotainment programs was aroma for free media all over world and in china as well and deregulation so as to have increasing freedom to pursue economic interests and is at the same time more and more subjected to the logic of capital. Secondly, the government liberalized the media sector to such an extent that new players such as independent production companies, large domestic businesses, and media TNCs now constitute a major element of the changed institutional environment for media. All factors have increased importance of the entertainment and especially entertainment based on political news and personalities.
In a research article “Infotainment’s Appeals and Consequences”, (Cited at http:// www.neoamericanist.org /paper/infotainment%E2%80%99s-appeals.RDT 21 Jan 2012), O’Connor (2010) after conducting a content analysis on current infotainment programs charted out trends and styles used by infotainment programs. It was observed from the findings that infotainment programs provide more entertainment that information and information provided by these programs is of poor quality. Researcher found that infotainment trend is becoming increasingly popular. Major objectives of the present study were to explain who is affected by such programs, how infotainment is characterized, what affective meaning it has, and why consumers can develop a dependency on this category of news. The article discussed modern news pundits, otherwise known as “infotainment news personalities,” and specifically focuses on Fox News’ controversial Bill O’Reilly. It was observed that O’Reilly uses name-calling, well-established symbolic language with negative connotations, eristic language, and fear appeals to stand out among news ratings. The article examines the “good on route to evil” or “with us or against us” style of news programs adverse to many personalities, including O’Reilly. It was found that such programs following such language, styles and formats which are beyond traditional concept of ethics.
In research paper submitted to submitted to ICA (2010) November 1, 2010 on “What Provokes Us: An Examination of the conducive Role of Emotions between Late-Night Comedy and Political Talk” has concluded that late-night comedy is not often considered a critical component of canvass democracy, primarily due to its frequently criticized lack of cardinal point. However, this study inquires about the likelihood that late-night comedy, even so hardly enlightening, could stimulate a citizen’s engagement in political talk by encouraging their acceptation on informational shortcuts and heuristics. Specifically, emotion is proposed as a viable conducive mechanism of “low-information rationality” suggesting that citizens may decide to participate in political discussion motivated by their desire to share emotional experiences from viewing, even if they may learn little about public issues from late-night comedy. Findings demonstrate that exposure to late-night comedy has a limited direct association with a citizen’s engagement with political talk, but emotion serves as an alley that carries the contributing influence of late-night humor to various features of interpersonal discussion. In contrast, emotion does little to mediate the relationship between use of traditional news sources and involvement in interpersonal talk about politics; consumption of conventional news shows mostly direct associations with properties of political talk. Thus, this study highlights the role of emotion coming between and further empowering experiences from newly emerging media contents to produce significant effects on citizens’ behavior and attitudes. In particular, negative emotions (i.e., worry and anger) burnt up by satirical humor are associated with more frequent formal and informal talk, expanded size of discussion network, and greater heterogeneity in talk partners, pointing to the constructive role of negative emotions in discursive democracy. Results illustrate that negative reactions prompted by exposure to late-night humor should be distinguished from anti social sentiments that generally yields political inactivity.
In a research study (2008) Just Laugh! You Don’t Need to Remember; the Effects of Entertainment Media on Political Information acceptance and Information Processing in Political Judgment Researcher concluded that late-night shows, talk shows, and political jokes have emerged as important political communication media, much attention has been drawn to how entertainment media play a role in citizens’ political information acceptance and political evaluation. Researcher used variety of factors as–age, gender, political interest, and even news media as a predictors of entertainment media use, for example, little is known about whether different patterns of political knowledge varying by different media. It was found that news media accommodate higher level of political information acquisition and a higher degree of accuracy in comparison to entertainment media. In particular, news media greatly enhanced issue knowledge more than the entertainment media. The findings add more weight to the Entertainment Media and Political Information research camps claimed the greater effectiveness of news media in political learning (especially issue learning) in comparison to entertainment media. The findings suggest that entertainment media clearly promote the on-line-based information processing. On the other hand, news media appear to facilitate the memory-based information processing. Given this, it is believable that the different patterns of political information assessment generated by different types of media are in part due to the different patterns in information processing. Moreover, it provides some explanations for why entertainment media have been found to be more effective in forming aroma about candidates than learning political issues in comparison to news media.
The literature reviewed examined the political and social effects on individuals resulting from watching the Infotainment shows. The phenomena of political comedy, humor, and comedy styles in news have been discussed completely. Studies specifically relating to infotainment were all discussed to shed light into such programs nature and perceived effects. However, while some previous research has been conducted on all of these topics, there is a gap in the existing research concerning purpose of watching such programs, extent of satisfaction from different parts of programs and gratifications from role of comedian and anchors of such programs. A more thorough examination of viewer perceptions is needed in order to better understand the accurate impact of infotainment programs on viewers. This study will attempt to explore the viewers’ perception in-term of extent of liking, interests, time spending, learning, satisfaction, information assessment, help in understanding issues and purpose of watching infotainment programs.

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