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China’s media watchdog has requested all TV and radio presenters to speak standard Putonghua without using any dialects, slang, or foreign languages in programs, except for some special concessions. The State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of China issued a notice, saying that presenters should take the lead in promoting the use of standard Putonghua, in an effort to enhance the soft power of Chinese culture. They are not allowed to “imitate” the pronunciation of characteristic dialects. Mixing foreign languages, slang, and some cyber phrases, which could be “harmful” to the standard use of language, should also be prohibited. Presenters should also guide their guests to use standard expressions, and avoid mixing any foreign languages and slang with Putonghua.

The Media Monitoring Project began in 2008 and is intended to provide early warning of genocide, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, and serious war crimes by monitoring the domestic news media (newspapers, radio, television and online sources) in at risk countries. It also seeks to inform policy makers, academics, NGO workers and students about what government-owned media in countries at risk tell their people in their own language. In order to get the best understanding of the situation and provide an overall account of what the people on the ground are being told, the project covers both government-owned and privately-owned domestic media. The project assigns a desk officer to each at-risk country and the desk officer produces weekly reports summarising the relevant content from domestic media, providing a weekly snapshot of the information available to citizens in that country.

one Greek media outlet has been providing continuous coverage of the ERT crisis that stands out with its intelligence, clarity and attention to detail. Radio Bubble, an Athens-based citizen journalism community, has been publishing ‘round-the-clock live updates, in-depth analysis, aggregated links to foreign media coverage and radio podcasts on its multi-lingual website. RB’s volunteers discovered and published, for example, a document showing that the order to close ERT came from Greece’s creditors — the European Commission, the European Central Bank and IMF — which stipulated that at least 2,000 public sector employees would have to be fired in June to fulfill cost-cutting requirements. Radio Bubble published the scanned document on its website, even as the European Commission denied any involvement in the decision to shut down ERT. The New York Times confirmed the story several days later. The in-depth reports on Radio Bubble’s website are supplemented with frequent updates on Twitter, via their dedicated account @radiobubblenews or, more frequently, via various contributors who use the tag #rbnews. Volunteers monitor the hashtag and verify reports, particularly if they come from outsiders. According to contributor Theodora Oikonomides (@IrateGreek), it is the now the second-most popular hashtag in Greece.

TV ratings are measured using mechanical devices that record the presence of viewers in the room when the TV is on, usually by the viewers pressing a button to register that they’ve entered the room. So it really registers presence, rather than attention – the viewer could be reading a newspaper, doing the ironing or using their iphone, but for the sake of the ratings they count as an avid viewer. Ratings technologies have been refined over time, but the basic concept hasn’t changed since it was invented by Arthur C Nielsen to measure radio audiences in the 1930s. BARB is the UK version of TV ratings, using a panel of 5,100 homes to represent the UK TV viewing public. So each percentage point in the examples above stand for a measurement sample of just 51 homes. The amount of people in these homes is around 11,300, so each percentage point stands for a maximum of 113 people pressing their buttons when they walk into the living room. It’s often a lot less, as the percentages above are share of the total viewing audience (BARB calls this the ‘universe’) at that time – many BARB panellists might be out of their homes, or might not have the TV on at that time.

Unpacking how TV ratings are measured…

This review examines the most recent developments in the regulation of licensing and of the line-up of digital television, as well as related policies in post-Soviet countries.The article has two parts. Part One covers recent developments in Russia’s switchover policies, while Part Two contains an assessment of some worrying trends emerging across both Russia and the other Commonwealth of Independent States countries. It points to a possible new broadcasting landscape designed by the authorities in the process of switchover.