American mass communication:
The American system of mass communication has 3 characteristics that distinguish it from systems in other countries:
1. Pervasive influence: America has an efficient system of mass communication and they transmit the information. Their function is entertainment, to inform, to influence and serve the economic system.
2. Freedom of press: The mass media play a central role in representative democracy. It is through the media that people get the information they need to decide what they want their officials to do. For this reason the first amendment to the USA constitution forbids the government to make any laws abridging the freedom of the press. The American government, meanwhile, restrains its media with the laws of libel, obscenity and privacy. Despite these limitations, there is no mass media system in the world today that is more free from government than the American system.
3. Big-business media: The United States is one of the few countries in the world whose major media are all privately owned. Like every business, the mass media have a product to sell.
The Associated Press (AP) is one of the 2 major American wire services. The other one is United Press International (UPI), which is smaller and younger, but almost as influential. But AP and UPI are not only the most important wire services in the United States, they are the most important ones in the world.
Even the largest and most self- sufficient news operation in America (The new York Times, the Washington Post, the three networks) rely on the wire services for much of their day-to-day coverage.
There are 4 commercial television networks in the United States: CBS, NBC, ABC and CNN. All of them operate radio networks as well.
There are about as many types of newspapers in the United States today as there are newspapers. We have for instance the internationally minded Christian Science Monitor, the tabloid New York Daily News, the suburban Newsday, the weekly Country Squire, the business-oriented Wall Street Journal or the alternative Los Angeles Free Press.
The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The St. Louis Post- Dispatch, The Washington Post, The Milwaukee Journal are rated among the top dailies in America.
They are highly specialised, they usually provide a unique service to specialized audiences. There are magazines for children, teenagers, executives, housewives, educators, sportsmen.
The most influential magazines in the Unites States are probably the 3 newsweeklies: Time, Newsweek and U.S. News and world report. They share 3 characteristics:
1. Brevity: the week´ s news is compressed into as few pages as possible
3. Group Journalism: dozens of researchers, writers and editors collaborate on each major article.
Television in America:
Nearly all the homes in the country have a television set. The typical tv station offers four hours of non-entertainment programming a day, roughly 20% of the total. Television news is incredibly powerful. The American public relies more on television for its news than on any other medium.
Radio in America:
Throughout the 1940s, radio was the most important news medium in America, then came television. Today, radio ranks third in entertainment (behind television and movies) and third in news ((behind television and newspapers). In order to survive, radio stations have been forced to adopt one or another formula, usually music.
The typical radio station subscribes to only one wire service the UPI or AP broadcast wire, which moves the news in neat five-minute packages, ready to read.
Local news is pirated from local papers. Larger metropolitan stations may have a news staff of four or five reporters, but even there the emphasis is on the headlines. Even the four major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and Mutual) carry little more than the headlines and features.
The mass media in Great Britain:
The Press, the radio, and TV are for the most part London-based and London-oriented.
Broadcasting by television and radio in Britain is regulated by the Home Secretary under The Wireless Telegraphy Acts 1949 and 1967, which prohibit the sending or receiving of wireless communication, except under licence.
Two public bodies (the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA)) are licensed to provide television and radio broadcasting services
– The BBC, which was established by Royal Charter in 1927, operates two national television services, four national radio services and 20 local radio stations. It also broadcasts to countries abroad through its external services division.
– The IBA originally established in 1954 as the Independent Broadcasting Authority, controls the operations of he single independent television service and has similar responsibility for the independent local radio stations.
Both the BBC and the IBA are constitutionally required to provide a public service with the purpose of disseminating information, education and entertainment. The BBC and the IBA are independent authorities in the day-to-day operations of broadcasting, including programmes and administration. The government, however, retains ultimate control, and the home Secretary is answerable to parliament on broad questions of policy and may issue directions to the BBC and the IBA on a number of technical and other subjects. Both the BBC and the IBA are required to publish annual reports and accounts.
The British Broadcasting Corporation:
The corporation consists of 12 governors (including a chairman, a vice-chairman and separate national governors for Scotland, Wales and Northern Island) each appointed for a period of not more than 5 years by the queen on the advice of the government. The governors are constitutionally responsible for the conduct of the whole broadcasting operations, including the production and presentation of the programmes on television and radio.
A number of committees advise them on such matters as the social effects of television, religion, broadcasting, education, programmes for immigrants, science and engineering. The governors appoint the Chief Executive Officer of the BBC, the Director General with whom they discuss all major matters of policy and finance.
The Independent Broadcasting Authority:
It consists of a chairman, a deputy chairman and 8 members (three of whom have responsibility for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) appointed by the Home Secretary. The IBA does not itself produce programmes, these are provided by commercial programme companies.
The programme companies:
15 television programme companies hold contracts to provide television programmes in the 14 independent television regions on Britain. These companies operate on a commercial basis, deriving their revenue from the sale of advertising time.
The five largest companies are: Thames, ATV, Granada, Yorkshire and London Weekend
There are 4 main television channels: BBC 1, BBC 2, ITV and Channel 4
Apart from a break during the war years, the BBC has been providing programmes since 1936. Since 1964 it has operated 2 services BBC 1 and BBC 2. All BBC 2 programmes and the majority of those on BBC 1 are broadcast on the national network. Although many nationally networked programmes are produced in London, some originate from regional studios in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and 8 regional centres in England. Regional studios also originate programmes of news and local interests intended for regional transmission only. Though coordinated planning of programmes on its 2 services, the BBC is able to cater simultaneously for people of different interests:
– BBC 1 presents a higher proportion of general interest, such as light entertainment, sport, children´ s programmes, outside broadcasts and films.
– BBC 2 places greater emphasis on minority interests, providing a larger element of news, documentaries, serious drama and music.
Both channels provide a wide range of education programmes.
The first regular independent broadcasts began in London in 1955. More than one third of viewing time is devoted to serious programmes such as news and news magazines, current affairs and documentaries, religion and education. The remainder includes a high proportion of drama, light entertainment, music, sport and feature films. Three are about 3 short advertising intervals an hour, in and between programmes.
BBC Radio provides listeners with four separate national channels, each of which has a distinct character:
– Radio 1 provides a programme of pop music
– Radio 2 provides light music as well as being the principal channel for the coverage of sport.
– Radio 3 provides classical music and in the evening offers adult education programmes and works of artistic and intellectual interest
– Radio 4 provides the principal news and information service of the BBC. In addition, it presents a wide range of drama, talks and entertainment programmes as well as broadcasts to schools.
Much of the output of the independent local radio stations comprises entertainment programmes but they are also expected to provide a national and local news service, information and programmes on local affairs and community activities. The first two began broadcasting in London in 1973: Capital Radio provides a general entertainment service while a specialist news and information service is broadcast by the London Broadcasting Company whose associated company Independent Radio News supplies national and international news to the other independent stations.
BBC External services:
The BBC broadcasts to most countries overseas. The main objective of BBC external broadcasts is to give unbiased news, to reflect British opinion and to project British life and culture.
The BBC doesn´ t give publicity to any individual firm or organised interest, except when it is necessary to provide effective and informative programmes. Advertisements are broadcast on independent television and independent local radio. In any hour of broadcasting the amount of advertising time on independent television is normally limited to seven minutes. In independent local radio stations are normally limited up to nine minutes of advertising each hour.
Broadcasts on political issues include a daily factual and impartial account of proceedings in Parliament, transmitted on BBC´ s Radio 4 when Parliament is in session and there is frequent coverage of political subjects in news bulletins.
The British Press caters for a variety of political views, different levels of education and a wide range of interests. It is no subject to state control or censorship. But the press is of course subject to law.
A large number of newspapers are sold in Britain every day, and although there are relatively few national papers, some of them have circulations comparable with the greatest in any other part of the world. Individual audited circulation figures range from nearly 200.000 to some 4.200.000.
The national newspapers (daily and Sunday) fall into 2 categories: popular and quality. They have separate sections on finance, business, industry, education, the arts, social services and sports and some papers carry special supplements on particular subjects..
With the press, people in all parts of England choose one or more of the eight national papers according to their preferences which are based on various factors , among which national sport reports are probably more influential than politics.
The principal newspapers:
Sunday Times (1300)
Daily Telegraph (1300)
Sunday Telegraph (700)
(tabloids, gutter press)
Daily Mail (2000)
Mail on Sunday (1500)
Daily Express (2000)
Sunday Express (3000)
Daily Mirror (3500)
Sunday Mirror (4000)
Daily Star (1400)
News of the World (6000)
Sunday People (4000)
Most of the significant regional papers are evening papers, each publishing about four editions between about midday and 5 p.m. London like every other important town has one. All these evening papers are semi-popular, but none has a circulation approaching that of any popular national papers: Evening Standard.
The national press is dominated by large companies. Although the newspapers receive no money from the state and they rely heavily on revenues from advertisers.
The periodical press:
There are about 4500 periodical publications in Britain, classified as general, trade, technical and professional. There are also some 660 house magazines.
The weekly periodicals with the highest sales in Britain are: Woman, Woman´ s weekly, Woman´ s own, Weekend, Woman´ s realm, Radio Times, and TV times.
The leading journals of opinion are The Economist, a politically independent publication covering topics from a wider angle than its title implies. Other are: The New Statesman, The Spectator, New society, New Scientist.
The Press Council:
It was established in 1953 and reconstituted in 1963. It has a lay chairman and 30 members. Its aims are:
1. To preserve the established freedom of the British Press
2. To maintain the character of the British Press in accordance with the highest professional and commercial standards.
3. To keep under review any developments likely to restrict the supply of information of public interest and importance.
4. To deal with complaints about the conduct of the press or the conduct of persons and organizations towards the press.
The council publishes annual reports, which include statistics of the newspapers and periodical press and a series of articles examining the structure of the leading press groups.
It is very frequent to hear among journalists that the journalistic language must be clear, correct and concise (the three “c”) so as to be able to be deciphered by readers of very different cultural levels. Nevertheless 3 temptations can arise to the journalist:
1. He can apply literary devices to his style such as metaphors
2. He can use an “administrative style” in order not to refer with sincerity to things.
3. He can use popular expressions because he thinks he can approach the reader
The influence the mass media exerts on standard language is extraordinary. The mass media, including The Press, are the most important instruments of language education. That is why their responsibility is so big and many times their action is not so perfect as it should be.
It consists of only a linguistic text (f.i: on the radio) or combined with images, photographs or drawings (f.i: on television and newspapers).
Advertising texts are usually short and they seek to shock and attract the reader by their wit or persuasive capacity.
Grammar in advertising texts:
1. There are many sentences without a verb
2. Most of them have rhymes so as to be easily remembered.
– When you decide to give her a ring, give us a ring (advertisement for a jeweller´ s shop)
3. Imperatives are frequently used
– Make a snap decision (advertisement for a new camera)
4. Stylistic devices are very frequent in advertising texts:
– It is not worth dying for a drink
b) Rhetoric doubt:
– What to give your family for lunch? Say cheese (advertisement for cheese). This phrase is often used when s.o. takes a photograph to make the subject smile
– We´ll give you a red-carpet treatment (or blue, or green, or yellow) (Carpet shop advertisement)
– The weather-men can´ t guarantee your Indian summer but we can (Travel agency advertisement) (Indian summer means mild autumn)