Topic 68 -Ways of communication in the english language II: radio and television. Advertising in english speaking countries: linguistic and semiologic aspects

Topic 68 -Ways of communication in the english language II: radio and television. Advertising in english speaking countries: linguistic and semiologic aspects



1.1. Aims of the unit.

1.2. Notes on bibliography.


2.1. The mass media in English.

2.1.1. Means: press, radio, television.

2.1.2. Aims: the audience.

2.1.3. Broadcasting policy.

2.2. Radio.

2.2.1. A definition: the radio.

2.2.2. A brief history of the radio.

2.2.3. The radio in the United Kingdom.

2.2.4. The radio out of the United Kingdom.

2.3. Television.

2.3.1. A definition: the television.

2.3.2. A brief history of the television.

2.3.3. The television in the United Kingdom.

2.3.4. The television out of the United Kingdom.


3.1. The sources of advertising.

3.1.1. Semiological aspects: the science of signs.

3.1.2. Linguistic aspects: the language of advertising.

3.2. Advertising in English-speaking cultures nowadays.





1.1. Aims of the unit.

The present unit, Unit 68, aims to provide a useful introduction to the mass media in English which comprises the main means of communication: press, radio and television. Yet, we shall namely concentrate on the two latter, radio and television. It is within the field of broadcasting that we shall examine the main types of radio and TV channels in Great Britain in terms of aims, style, and language. In doing so, we shall also approach the question of advertising in English-speaking cultures as far as linguistic and semiological aspects are concerned so as to better understand the scope of radio and TV within the international arena.

So, the unit is to be divided into two main chapters which correspond to the main tenets of this unit. Thus, Chapter 2 provides a general introduction to (1) the mass media in English focusing, in particular, on radio and television. So, we shall start by offering a profile of mass media in English in terms of (a) means (press, radio, television), main (b) aims regarding the audience, and (c) broadcasting policy, regarding the main broadcasting corporations. Next, we shall focus on (2) radio and (3) television in terms of (a) definition, (b) a brief history of the invention up to the present day, (b) its organization in the United Kingdom and also, (c) out of it so as to better understand the scope of the English language within the mass media.

Then, with this background in mind, Chapter 3 shall address the phenomenon of advertising in English-speaking countries within the scope of the English language and shall review its main features in linguistic and semiological aspects. We shall start by examining (1) the sources of advertising in terms of, first, (a) semiological aspects and (b) linguistic aspects. Within the former issue, we shall adress the science of semiology, which studies signs in society whereas within the latter we shall discuss on journalistic language so as to get the main features of the language of advertising. Finally, we shall analyse the phenomenon of (2) advertising in English- speaking cultures nowadays.

Chapter 4 will be devoted to the main educational implications in language teaching regarding the introduction of this issue in the classroom setting. Chapter 5 will offer a conclusion to broadly overview our present study, and Chapter 6 will include all the bibliographical references for further information.

1.2. Notes on bibliography.

An general introduction to mass media in English si

namely based on the Encyclopaedia

Britannica (2004); The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia (2003); McLean, Profile UK (1993); and Vaughan-Rees, In Britain (1995). Specific information about radio and television, and their typology is drawn from Bromhead, Life in Modern Britain (1962); and the reliable sources of (2004); (2004); and (2004). Further information about advertising is taken from Andren, Rethoric and Ideology in Advertising (1978).

The background for educational implications is based on the theory of communicative competence and communicative approaches to language teaching are provided by the most comple te record of current publications within the educational framework is provided by the guidelines in B.O.E. (2002) for both E.S.O. and Bachillerato; and the Council of Europe, Modern Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment. A Common European Framework of reference (1998).


Chapter 2 provides a general introduction to (1) the mass media in English focusing, in particular, on radio and television. So, we shall start by offering a profile of mass media in English in terms of (a) means (press, radio, television), main (b) aims regarding the audience, and (c) broadcasting policy, regarding the main broadcasting corporations. Next, we shall focus on (2) radio and (3) television in terms of (a) definition, (b) a brief history of the invention up to the present day, (b) its organization in the United Kingdom and also, (c) out of it so as to better understand the scope of the English language within the mass media.

2.1. The mass media in English.

2.1.1. Means: press, radio, television.

The mass media comprises three types of modern communication, that is, the press, the radio, and the television (also see: cinema, advertising). In terms of percentage, the press is curiously much more demanded in Great Britain than radio or television; actually, figures show that over

80% of households receive at least one daily newspaper despite that fact that people usually get

the first news from radio or television. The reason is drawn from constant complaints to these two broadcasting varieties for being trivial, boring or simply for being involved in political arguments and discussions (Bromhead, 1962:192).

However, two main factors have made radio and television become two modern forms of communication in the twentieth and twenty-first century: technological advances and universal literacy. Actually, this century has seen the supremacy of the spoken word over the written one in terms of mass communication thanks to inventors such as Marconi or Baird, who cannot be held responsible for the relative decline of written language. For the first time since the invention of the printing press (c.1450), the relevance of written language was no longer restricted to matters of church and state, but to literature and social issue within the audience, who are undifferenciated by class, income, and background, among other factors.

Moreover, the far greater immediacy of radio and television (songs, documentaries, daily news) is drawn from their role as instruments of cultural influence. Actually, many of the most popular television programmes and documentaries are imports from the United States or Great Britain (BBC News, BBC documentaries, Discovery Channel, MTV). Hence radio and television are regarded as the best means to get closer to the anglophone world.

2.1.2. Aims: the audience.

The main aims of the mass media in general deal with what and how to report news. It must be borne in mind that what refers to the content whereas how refers to the question of transmitting objective and subjective information. This bias can exist because Britain is a free country with an elected representative government, and the mass media is free putting forward various points of view to be transmitted through different mediums with their own structural features.

Hence, the mass media (marked with numbers) are interrelated to the main features of journalistic style (marked with letters) so as to cover the question of how to transmit information, for instance, (1) to inform with (a) correctness, since journalistic language is non- literary and must be close to cultivated colloquial language; (b) conciseness, since short sentences are often the most appropriate in journalistic language; (c) clarity, since one can achieve communicative efficiency by using suitable verbs in the active form and the indicative mood; (2) to cultivate the audience’s opinion by (d) holding the attention of the receiver, since articles of an informative nature have a peculiar structure which is used in order to attract the

reader’s attention from the first line to the last; and (3) to spread the news in a (e) language produced in groups.

Note that all the messages in collective communication are produced by different authors, some of them have greater responsibility than others in the final result which is offered to the receivers (particularly, radio and TV commercials); and finally, with (f) the use of a mixed language, since the plurality of concurrent codes drives the different languages to depend on each other. The leading code (the articulated language in written or oral representation also suffers at the same time the influence of smaller codes).

Regarding what to transmit, mass media means report the latest events around the world, from international to local level. That report traditionally answers the set of wh- questions: what?, who?, when?, where?, why?, what for? and how?, among others (i.e. how much?, how many? and so on). The information report must be a complete piece of news or enlarged bits of information according to a decreasing interest order.

In short, the aim is to provide as much information as possible to the recipients of the news, that is, the audience, which is regarded as the market of news in a commercial sense. So, it is important not only what to write but also how to write it taking into account that each means of communication has a particular framework and a characteristic mode of address. The determination of the particular mode of address will depend on the particular type of audience since there must be a reciprocity between producer and receiver.

As a result, we find the three main types of communication means: the press, the radio and the television with a common way of expression: the journalistic style. Yet, we must take into account that the most attractive feature that shapes the psychology and behaviour of a radio or television audience is the fact that it is composed of people in the privacy of their homes, as opposed to the audience in a theatre or cinema.

2.1.3. Broadcasting policy.

Regarding British broadcasting, that is, radio and television, it “has traditionally been based on the principle that it’s a public service accountable to the people through Parliament. Following

1990 legislation, it is also embracing the principles of competition and choice” ( Yet, it is closely connected to four main factors: (1) the audience (already discussed above); (2) techniques and materials (since they differ from the press in having a wider capacity for

coverage of human activities: news bulletins, reports, commentary, discussion); (3) types of programmes, among which we highlight entertainment (comedy, quizzes, music, dancing contests), drama (serials, adaptations from famous works of literature, operas, detective stories), spoken word (news, sports, ‘talk’ shows, interviews, comedy interviews, ‘phone-ins’ where a panel of experts answer questions from a listening audience, and documentaries, among others.

Finally, we emphasize its (4) interdependence since they are not always free of stockholder or advertiser pressure, though broadcasters in democratic countries take pride of their freedom from their government. Actually, within the English-speaking scope, there are two main ways of organizations regarding the relationship between broadcasting systems and their government: first, a private management, which refers to commercial firms that receive their revenue from advertising in the form of brief spots broadcast at regular intervals throughout the day or the sponsoring of one particular programme; and secondly, the establishment of a public corporation or authority. This means that a given corporation began broadcasting as a monopoly authorised by the government, but soon they became independent of it, and were supported by licence fees, paid by radio and TV sets.

Within this type, it is worth mentioning that three public bodies are responsible for television and radio throughout Britain. They are: (1) the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), which broadcasts television and radio; (2) the Independent Television Commission (ITC), which licenses and regulates non-BBC television services, including cable and satellite; and (3) the Radio Authority, which licenses and regulates all non-BBC radio,” according to website Among the three corporations, the BBC is the best known in the world.

In particular, since its foundation on 14 November 1922 under the name of British Broadcasting Company, and later on as the British Broadcasting Corporation on 1 January 1927, the BBC has been regarded as the main source of information services because of its reputation and impartiality in news reporting. Moreover, it got its independence partly by a historical accident as the result of habit and common agreement of its legal status since it began to broadcast first to the empire and then to other parts of the world.

At first, it was declared a public service and given Royal Charter (1927), but when later on a national broadcasting monopoly came into operation, the BBC was funded by the state. The BBC gets its financial independence from the licence fee that everybody pays when using a television, rather than getting it from advertisement or the government. Yet, the latter (represented by a Board of Governors) not only determines how much this fee is going to be, but also has the right to veto any BBC programme before it is transmitted, take away the BBC’s

licence to broadcast, and to maintain political impartiality (specially in domestic affairs). Identified with the principles of democracy and free speech during the WWII, its fame became international and today, it is still regarded as a reliable source.

2.2. Radio.

2.2.1. A definition: the radio.

Defined as “the transmission or reception of electromagnetic radiation in the radio frequency range,” that is, navigation signals, AM and FM broadcasting, television transmissions, cell- phone communications, and various forms of radar, “the term is commonly applied also to the equipment used, especially to the radio receiver” (columbia encyclopaedia, 2003). Information in radio transmission is imparted to a carrier wave by modulating its amplitude, frequency, or duration. So, we may refer to AM (in full amplitude modulation) and FM (in full amplitude modulation), commonly known as radio waves.

Following the website britá (2004), “AM is the oldest method of broadcasting radio programs. Commercial AM stations operate in the frequency range of 535 to 1605 kHz. Because radio waves of these frequencies are reflected back to the Earth’s surface by the ionosphere, they can be detected by receivers hundreds of miles away. In addition to commercial radio broadcasting, AM is also employed in short-wave radio broadcasts, and in transmitting the video portion of television programs.”

With respect to FM radio waves, “developed by American electrical engineer Edwin H. Armstrong in the early 1930s, FM is less susceptible to outside interference and noise (e.g., thunderstorms, nearby machinery) than is AM. Such noise generally affects the amplitude of a radio wave but not its frequency, so an FM signal remains virtually unchanged. FM is also better able to transmit sounds in stereo than AM. Commercial FM broadcasting stations transmit their signals in the frequency range of 88 megahertz (MHz) to 108 MHz.”

Moreover, according to Columbia Encyclopaedia (2003), “the prime purpose of radio is to convey information from one place to another through the intervening media (i.e., air, space, nonconducting materials) without wires” and where a transmitter and a receiver are needed for the propagation and interception of radio waves. Actually, “in its most common form, radio is used for the transmission of sounds (voice and music) and pictures (television). The sounds and images are converted into electrical signals by a microphone (sounds) or video camera (images),

amplified, and used to modulate a carrier wave that has been generated by an oscillator circuit in a transmitter.”

2.2.2. A brief history of the radio.

Radio is based on the studies of Michael Faraday, James Clerk Maxwell, Heinrich Hertz, Guglielmo Marconi, and others. For instance, Faraday “was the first to report induction of an electric current from a magnetic field. He invented the first electric motor and dynamo, demonstrated the relation between electricity and chemical bonding, discovered the effect of magnetism on light, and discovered and named diamagnetism” (, 2004); Maxwell developed the mathematical theory of electromagnetic waves, and Hertz devised an apparatus for generating and detecting them; and finally, “Guglielmo Marconi, recognizing the possibility of using these waves for a wireless communication system, gave a demonstration (1895) of the wireless telegraph, using Hertz’s spark coil as a transmitter and Edouard Branly’s coherer (a radio detector in which the conductance between two conductors is improved by the passage of a high-frequency current) as the first radio receiver” (Columbia Encyclopaedia, 2003).

“The effective operating distance of this system increased as the equipment was improved, and in 1901, Marconi succeeded in sending the letter S across the Atlantic Ocean using Morse code. In 1904, Sir John A. Fleming developed the first vacuum electron tube, which was able to detect radio waves electronically. Two years later, Lee de Forest invented the audion, a type of triode, or three-element tube, which not only detected radio waves but also amplified them. The beginning of radio telephony—the transmission of music and speech—also began in 1906 with the work of Reginald Fessiden and Ernst F. W. Alexanderson” (Columbia, 2003).

“However, it was not until Edwin H. Armstrong patented (1913) the circuit for the regenerative receiver that long-range radio reception became practicable. The major developments in radio initially were for ship-to-shore communications. Following the establishment (1920) of station KDKA at Pittsburgh, Pa., the first commercial broadcasting station in the United States, technical improvements in the industry increased, as did radio’s popularity. Particularly in the United States, the radio receiver became a standard household fixture. Subsequent research gave rise to countless technical improvements and to such applications as radio facsimile , radar, and television” (Columbia, 2003).

“Radios that combine transmitters and receivers are now widely used for communications. Police and military forces and various businesses commonly use such radios to maintain contact

with dispersed individuals or groups. Citizens band (CB) radios, two-way radios operating at frequencies near 27 megahertz, most typically used in vehicles for communication while traveling, became popular in the 1970s. Cellular telephones, despite the name, are another popular form of radio used for communication” (Columbia, 2003).

2.2.3. Radio in the United Kingdom.

With respect to the radio in the United Kingdom, it is worth mentioning that the AM radio, the grandfather of the broadcast industry, reshaped the view of the world. In economic terms, following Bromhead (1962:188), “when the spread of radio began, the British were quick to agree on certain principles. Unlike the press, it should not be financed, even partially, through commercial advertising; but its programmes should be free from state control, and should therefore have no state subsidy. The British Broadcasting Corporation (B.B.C.) was set up, given the monopoly of radio broadcasting, and financed by compulsory annual payments. The Minister in charge of Posts and Telecommunications appoints the B.B.C.’s Board of Governors and its chairman.”

When broadcasters became aware of the artistic potential of the radio in the 1930s, they developed the nature of the medium and found out about how to establish a special relationship to their audience. At first, they tended to adopt an artificial style, thinking in terms of a mass audience, when it was actually composed of small groups or individuals usually at home. Style had to be adapted then to different audiences, using the voice in such ways so as to hold the attention of the listeners.

From the start, the programmes were a mixture of news, comment, music, entertainment and sport, but during the years of WWII it was argued that the BBC established itself as an unshakeable national institution which had four main aims: to satisfy the hunger of the public for war news; secondly, to boost morale propaganda and spread it easily; third, to trasmit coded messages to intelligence agents at home and abroad; and fourth, to give to both troops and civilians much-needed light relief. It is safe to say that during the war, the radio set (or

‘wireless’) became an indispensable part of any household, and the BBC became a part of national life. Hence the popularity of certain radio programmes, such as the ‘Light Programme’ or the ‘Home Service.’ These eventually evolved into the BBC national stations we know today.

Let us examine then the main present-day radio stations that most people listen in the morning while having breakfast or driving to work. Following the website

(2004), BBC radio channels include: five BBC national channels, over one hundred and fifty commercial radios (teenagers, music), and thirty- nine local radio stations which address a great wide variety of themes. Thus,

BBC Radio 1, which is the most popular station in the UK with an average of 11,2 million listeners (usually adults). It began broadcasting in 1967 and since then it has been devoted to the best new music almost entirely. Its birth was a signal that popular youth culture could no longer be ignored by the country’s established institutions. It shows a great emphasis on the latest fashions, although at night and at the weekend airtime is given to minority interest music and to the music of the last forty years.

BBC 1Xtra, which is devoted to new black music.

BBC Radio 2, which namely broadcasts music and entertainment includes light music

(pop, jazz, folk, country), chat shows and also, some comedy.

BBC Radio 3, whic h is devoted to classical music, jazz, world, arts and drama. There is little variation on this station since it is generally free from news and comments.

BBC Radio 4 broadcasts a wide variety of programmes dealing with news, current affairs, plays, comedy, long-running seria ls, quizzes, and chat-shows, among others. Yet, it is the backbone of the BBC’s domestic radio service due to its consumer advice programmes. It is worth noting that despite a small following, its audience is fully dedicated.

BBC Radio Five Live, which is devoted to life news and sport. Sometimes we can find some light music.

Other BBC radio stations include: the BBC World Service, devoted to worlwide news coverage and regarded as the most objective worldwide news reporting service available ; BBC 6 Music, where we can listen to the great, the new and no fill music; BBC 7, devoted to comedy, kids and drama; the BBC Asian Network, which includes, music, news and views of Asia; and the BBC Five Live Sports Extra, which namely deals with live sport.

Among the 150 new commercial radio stations, we highlight: the recent Virgin Radio for teenagers, which namely deals with rock music 24 hours a day and attempts to be a national station (by entrepreneur Richard Branson); The Archers, a long-running soap which describes an everyday story of country folk aimed at elderly people (middle – class).

Local radio stations include: English local radio, Radio Scotland, Radio Wales, Radio Ulster, Radio Cymru, Radio Foyle, and Radio Nan Gaidheal. It is worth mentioning that most independent stations are local, among the largest being Capital Radio in London.

Also, it is worth remembering the ‘pirate stations’, such as Radio Caroline and Radio London, which began broadcasting from ships moored a few miles offshore, thus avoiding the ban on land- based stations. Yet, after years of conflict, the monopoly was finally ended by new legislation in 1972, when the I.B.A. (Independent Broadcasting Authority) was allowed to set up independent stations financed by advertising.

Finally, just mention the four ways to listen to BBC Radio nowadays: via AM/FM, via

DAB (digital radio), via digital television, and finally, via the Internet.

2.2.4. Radio out of the United Kingdom.

Regarding the radio out of the United Kingdom, as stated above, the “BBC World Service Radio transmits in English and 37 other languages worldwide. Regular listeners are estimated to number 120 million. BBC World Service Television, set up in 1992, provides three services: a subscription channel in Europe; a 24-hour news and information channel available throughout Asia; and a news and information channel in Africa. Both BBC overseas services have complete editorial independence. BBC domestic services are financed almost exclusively by the sale of annual television licenses; World Service radio is financed from a government grant, while World Service Television is self-funding. Popular television drama programs produced for the BBC are shown in America and many other countries around the world.”

Actually, in the United States, radio began as a means of promoting another company, so most of the broadcasting organisations in the United States are commercial firms which are not linked to advertising. Among the most important elements in the growth of national broadcasting we find: AT&T (American Telephone and Telegraph); Westinghouse and GE (General Electric), which promoted radio and it would mean the expansion of their products. Also, they formed RCA (Radio Corporation of America), the forefather of the ‘big three’ commercial radio and television networks: NBC (National Broadcasting Company), ABC (American Broadcasting Company), and CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System).

Nowadays, the networks are no longer dominant, and the majority of the radio stations are as independent of them as of the government. Many of the commercial stations specialize in a single type of output (news, classical music, sports, black music). Moreover, another US innovation was the figure of the disc- jockey, who was an integral part of the top 40 radio, in which a limited play list of records is repeated around the clock, generating a boomign phonography industry. Finally, just mention the great amount of local stations which broadcast some neighbourhood gossip with music and spot advertising in between.

2.3. Television.

2.3.1. A definition: the television.

Television is defined as the “electronic system for transmitting still or moving images and sound to receivers that project a view of the images on a picture tube or screen and recreate the sound” (, 2004). Moreover, it is relevant to bear in mind that those moving images are transmitted by electrical signals and fiberoptic and coaxial cables using the techniques of radio. Hence, following the Columbia Electronic Encyclopaedia (2003), “television has become a major industry, especially in the industrialized nations, and a major medium of communication and source of home entertainment. Television is put to varied use in industry, e.g., for surveillance in places inaccessible to or dangerous for human beings; in science, e.g., in tissue microscopy; and in education.”

2.3.2. A brief history of the television.

The invention of the television by Philo T. Farnsworth in 1927 was not an isolated event. It was developed as a result of several years of research which correspond to the stages of: (1) evolution of the scanning process (1900-20s), (2) development of the television camera and receiver (1930s), (3) development of color television (1950s), (4) broadcast, cable and satellite television transmission (1960s to 1980s), and finally, (5) television technology innovations (from 1990s onward). On examining each stage, we shall follow the Columbia Electronic Encyclopaedia (2003).

1. Evolution of the scanning process (1900-20s).

“The idea of “seeing by telegraph” engrossed many inventors after the discovery in 1873 of variation in the electrical conductivity of selenium when exposed to light. Selenium cells were used in early television devices; the results were unsatisfactory, however, chiefly because the response of selenium to light- intensity variations was not rapid enough. Moreover, until the development of the electron tube there was no way of sufficiently amplifying the weak output signals. These limitations precluded the success of a television method for which Paul Nipkow in Germany received (1884) a patent.”

“His system employed a selenium photocell and a scanning disk; it embodied the essential features of later successful devices” (a scanning disk, light-sensitive plates). “Although selenium cells proved inadequate, the development of the phototube made the mechanical disk- scanning method practicable. In 1926, J. L. Baird in England and C. F. Jenkins in the United States successfully demonstrated television systems using mechanical scanning disks. While research remained at producing pictures made up of 60 to 100 scanned lines, mechanical systems were competitive. These were soon superseded, however, by electronic scanning methods; a television system employing electronic scanning was patented by V. K. Zworykin in

1928. The 1930s saw the laboratory perfection of television equipment that began to reach the market in 1945 after World War II.”

“The modern scanning process, which is the essence of television accomplishment, operates as do the eyes in reading a page of printed matter, i.e., line by line. A complex circuit of horizontal and vertical deflection coils controls this movement and causes the electronic beam to scan the back of a mosaic of photoelectric cells in a 525- line zigzag 30 times each second. Because of persistence of vision only about 30 pictures need be transmitted each second to give the effect of motion.”

2. Development of the television camera and receiver (1930s).

“V. K. Zworykin’s iconoscope (1923) was the first successful camera tube in wide use. Its functioning involved many fundamental principles common to all television image pickup devices” (i.e. differing light intensities of various points of a scene, a beam across the cells, an electrical signal, an amplifier). As a result, “the strength of the signal was proportional to the amount of charge released. The iconoscope provided good resolution, but required very high light levels and needed constant manual correction.” Actually, the first all-electronic TV appeared in 1932, but “solid state imaging devices were first demonstrated in the 1960s.”

3. Development of color television (1950s).

Already by the 1950s, “several systems of color television have been developed. In the first color system approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a motor-driven disk with segments in three primary colors—red, blue, and green—rotated behind the camera lens, filtering the light from the subject so that the colors could pass through in succession. The receiving unit of this system formed monochrome (black-and-white) images through the usual

cathode-ray tube, but a color wheel, identical with that affixed to the camera and synchronized with it, transformed the images back to their original appearance.”

“This method is said to be “fie ld-sequential” because the monochrome image is “painted” first in one color, then another, and finally in the third, in rapid enough succession so that the individual colors are blended by the retentive capacities of the eye, giving the viewer the impression of a full colored image. This system, developed by the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), was established in 1950 as standard for the United States by the FCC. However, it was not “compatible,” i.e., from the same signal a good picture could not be obtained on standard black-and-white sets, so it found scant public acceptance.”

“Another system, a simultaneous compatible system, was developed by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). In 1953 the FCC reversed its 1950 ruling and revised the standards for acceptable color television systems. The RCA system met the new standards (the CBS system did not) and was well received by the public. This system is based on an “element-sequential” system. Light from the subject is broken up into its three color components, which are simultaneously scanned by three pickups. However, the signals corresponding to the red, green, and blue portions of the scanned elements are combined electronically so that the required 4.1- MHz bandwidth can be used.”

“In the receiver the three color signals are separated for display. The elements, or dots, on the picture tube screen are each subdivided into areas of red, green, and blue phosphor. Beams from three electron guns, modulated by the three color signals, scan the elements together in such a way that the beam from the gun using a given color signal strikes the phosphor of the same color. Provision is made electronically for forming proper gray tones in black-and-white receivers. The FCC allowed stereo audio for television in 1984.”

4. Broadcast, cable and satellite television transmission (1960s to 1980s).

By the 1960s, cable TV systems had been already introduced, followed by recording or playback machines in the 1980s. It must be borne in mind that “television programs may be transmitted either “live” or from a recording. The principle means of recording television programs for future use is videotape recording. Videotape recording is similar to conventional tape recording except that, because of the wide frequency range—4.2 megahertz (MHz)—

occupied by a video signal, the effective speed at which the tape passes the head is kept very high. The sound is recorded along with the video signal on the same tape.”

Moreover, “when a television program is broadcast, the varying electrical signals are then amplified and used to modulate a carrier wave; the modulated carrier is usually fed to an antenna, where it is converted to electromagnetic waves and broadcast over a large region. The waves are sensed by antennas connected to television receivers. The range of waves suitable for radio and television transmission is divided into channels, which are assigned to broadcast companies or services. In the United States the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has assigned 12 television channels between 54 and 216 MHz in the very-high-frequency (VHF) range and 56 channels between 470 and 806 MHz in the ultra-high-frequency (UHF) range.”

“Most television viewers in the United States no longer receive signals by using antennas; instead, they receive programming via cable television. Cable delivery of television started as a way to improve reception. A single, well-placed community antenna received the broadcast signals and distributed them over coaxial or fiber-optic cables to areas that otherwise would not be able to receive them. Today, cable television is popular because of the wide variety of programming it can deliver.”

“Many systems now provide more than 100 channels of programming. Typically, a cable television company receives signals relayed from a communications satellite and sends those signals to its subscribers. The first transatlantic television broadcast was accomplished by such a satellite, called Telstar, on July 10, 1962. Some television viewers use small satellite dishes to receive signals directly from satellites. Most satellite-delivered signals are scrambled and require a special decoder to receive them clearly.”

5. Television technology innovations (from 1990s onward).

Among the most outstanding technology innovations, we hig hlight the next great advance in television: the adoption of digital high-definition television (HDTV) systems, which from the

1990s onward provide sharper, clearer pictures and sound with little interference or other imperfections and have the potential to merge TV functions with those of computers. “Non- experimental analog HDTV broadcasting began in Japan in 1991. In 1994 the FCC approved a U.S. standard for an all-digital system, to be used by all commercial broadcast stations by mid-

2002. Although it was hoped that the transition to digital broadcasting would be largely

completed by 2006, less than a third of all stations had begun transmitting digital signals by the mid-2002 deadline.”

Yet, “the wide availability of television has raised concerns about the amount of time children spend watching TV, as well as the increasingly violent and graphic sexual content of TV programming. Starting in 1999 the FCC required TV set manufacturers to install “V-Chip” technology that allows parents to block the viewing of specific programs; that same year the television industry adopted a voluntary ratings system to indicate the content of each program.” Therefore, “various interactive television systems have been tested or proposed. An interactive system could be used for instant public -opinion polls or for home shopping. Many cable television systems use an interactive system for instant ordering of “pay-per-view” programming. Others systems poll their subscribers’ equipment to compile information on program preferences. Several competing commercial systems have connected televisions to the Internet.”

2.3.3. Television in the United Kingdom.

In contrast to radio broadcasting, “television viewing is Britain’s most popular leisure pastime:

95 per cent of households have a color television set and 68 per cent have a video recorder. The Government is not responsible for programming content or the day-to-day conduct of the business of broadcasting. Broadcasters are free to air programs with the only limitation on their independence being the requirement that they not offend good taste” (, 2004). Moreover, figures show that over 70% of UK households now have a video recorder.

Television broadcasting in Britain has expanded to fill every part of every day of the week. For instance, we may find channels that broadcast for twenty-four hours non-stopping (ITV), others which broadcast from around six in the morning until after midnight, and the well- known television news, which is watched every day by more than half of the population. Yet, let us examine the main channels within the television media in the United Kingdom1, on following the current website (2004), which includes: six national networks (BBC), three commercial television national stations (ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5);

clip_image001cable, digital, teletext and interactive services.

1 It is worth noting that “all non-BBC television stations follow guidelines laid down by the Independent

Television Commission (ITC), who oversee programme content and quality, and make sure that

There are six national stations in the UK (excluding satellite, cable and digital channels) which are broadcast by the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). Actually, the first two are carried on regular terrestrial broadcasts: “BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Choice, BBC Four, BBC News24, and BBC Parliament.” Note that BBC One and Two “occasionally broadcast regional programming, like news and the occasional local specia l- interest programme (although BBC1 in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has more local programming).”

“All others are carried on cable networks, digital satellite and digital terrestrial. These television channels, and the BBC’s many radio services, are funded by the television licence, which, in May 1999, costs around £100 (€142) per year. The channels carry no advertising. The BBC also broadcasts two worldwide television services, BBC World and BBC Prime, which are not for UK viewers (although BBC World is available on some satellite systems) and which are funded by advertising. The BBC also has an interest in UKTV, which broacasts a range of channels on satellite and cable. Programme content is heavily influenced by the BBC’s programme library.”

“There are three commercial television national stations – ITV (officially ‘Channel 3’), Channel 4, and Channel 5. ITV stands for independent television, a throw-back to the days when there was only one ‘independent’ television channel. It’s split into different regional companies, who take national programmes at peak times and broadcast their own programmes at other times. Each ITV company can also produce national programming. And if it wasn’t confusing enough, ITV is completely national between

0600 and 0930 – GMTV produces ITV’s breakfast programmes.”

“Technically speaking ITV “networks” and does not broadcast nationally – each regional company takes the same programmes, but not all are from the same source. Until recently, each ITV channel was idented as the regional company: so, in Yorkshire, it would be called “Yorkshire TV”. In 2002, the decision was made to brand ITV services in England and Wales as “ITV1?: Scottish TV, Grampian TV, and UTV continue being a part of the ITV network but retain their own brand.”

“In Wales, Channel 4 is replaced by a Welsh-speaking channel, S4C, which carries occasional Channel 4 programmes at usually off-peak times. Channel 5 is the latest

clip_image002terrestrial service. Due to lack of available frequencies, not all the country can receive

advertisers follow a specific and stringent code of conduct. The BBC is currently self -regulating: this is

expected to change to a degree with the formation of a successor to the ITC called OFCOM.”

the station, and some viewers need a different television aerial. Channel 5 is also carried on satellite. There are no more terrestrial frequencies available for analogue broadcasting.”

“Cable television has yet to expand into many homes in the UK – franchises are awarded on a local basis to cable companies, who usually provide both television and telephone services. There are consequently few cable -specific stations – around five or six outside London, and a further ten or so London-specific channels. Digital Cable promises widescreen and interactivity; although the major cable companies are committed to it, it’s currently available in precious few places.”

“Digital satellite television was launched in October 1998, on a platform provided by Sky Digital, part of B Sky B. It is estimated that 1,500,000 people had access to Sky Digital a year later, in October 1999; in May 2000 the figure is estimated at around three million. Pricing for digital satellite television rises to a maximum of £34.99 a month (€48). Digital satellite receivers are now available free, subject to a small installation charge and to keeping the box connected to your telephone line for the interactive Sky Active service.”

“Digital terrestrial television launched in mid-November 1998 as a part free, part subscription model, under the name of “On Digital”. Unfortunately, the lack of channels, combined with losses due to piracy and a slightly unwise investment into league football, meant that the service went into liquidation in early 2002. It was replaced by Freeview, a consortium including the BBC and broadcast tranmission specialists Castle Communications, and offers around 30 entirely free channels. Terrestrial receivers cost a one-off fee of around £99. The frequencies used are the same band as for analogue television; this means that digital television is currently not available in certain areas, and that aerials sometimes need to be changed.”

Finally, “most televisions sold in the UK have teletext, an information service broadcast with an analogue television picture signal, consisting of around 3,000 pages and close- caption subtitling. All analogue stations carry some information on teletext; the larger stations also carry live news, weather, travel and a variety of other infor mation and programming sources. Teletext adds about £30 (€42) to the cost of buying a television.”

Note that “digital television brings more interactive services: digital teletext (the successor to the analogue service above), and interactive shopping services.

SkyDigital’s platform offers “Sky Active”, a feature-rich service offering shopping, e- mail, games and information, using the bandwidth available to it – limited interactivity is also available on digital terrestrial. Cable has the capability of the best interactive programming and services.”

As we can see, although the advent of ITV did not affect television coverage of news and current affairs, it did cause a change in the style and content of other programmes regarding the amount of money a television company had to pay for advertising. This meant a high pressure on ITV from the start to make its output popular. Soon, the BBC responded by making its own programmes equally accessible to a mass audience. Since then, there has been little significant difference between BBC and commercial programmes. Their constant competition to attract the largest audience favours the introduction of quality in terms of content.

This competition brought about the birth of the so-called ‘soap-operas’, which are shown at least twice a week, and unlike American productions, do not show glamorous rich and beautiful people (i.e. Dallas, Dynasty). Instead, they are set in a working-class area of London showing ordinary people dramas or police dramas (ITV’s Coronation Street, This is Your Life, Barrymore vs. BBC’s EastEnders, Casualty, Neighbours), which do not show an idealized, sensational or dramatic picture of life. They just depict ordinary lives in relatively ordinary circumstances. Yet, they are so popular because their viewers can see themselves and other people they know in these TV stereotypes (i.e. the bad father, the good friend, the wild teenager) within different situations.

In the early 1960s the increasing popularity of soap operas and light entertainment shows meant that there was less room for programmes which lived up to the original education aims of television. The reason was that British preferred this emerging kind of pseudo-realism. In the early 1990s the BBC spent a great amount of money filming a new soap called Eldorado, which was set in a small Spanish village with a large number of expatriate British people (though eventually was a failure). Yet, other channels present learning and culture programmes, whose success relies on presenting serious and weighty issues which are nevertheless attractive to quite large audiences (quizz shows).

2.3.4. Television out of the United Kingdom.

Television is a powerful influential vehicle through which the English language establishes links out of the United Kingdom and viceversa. Actually, the massive amount of programmes

exported to foreign television networks, together with the imports of Hollywood films have played an important role in the presentation of the American way of life over Western Europe and beyond. Thanks to English channels, we may have access to Great Britain news or North American News (BBC News and CNN news, respectively).

We may find powerful elements within American TV. For instance, it is mostly commercial, that is, programmes are often interrupted by advertisements since advertisers sponsors pay for it; the power of news, by means of which television news is incredibly powerful although it lasts only one hour. Another powerful element is censorship, which occurs in a curious form. For example, if a programme shows something that certain conservative groups consider offensive, the advertised products will be boycotted, and as a result, the sponsors won’t put any money on those programmes which may upset conservative groups.

Also, cable TV have gradually become a serious competence for the traditional stations like ABC or CBS. Viewers can choose to subscribe to dozens of different channels, each of which specializes on a single area, for instance, CCN Broadcasts only 24 hours a day; the Disney Channel has children as potential customers; MTV concentrates on pop music; and the Movie Channel shows nothing but films. Moreover, there are channels which only transmit in the language of minorites (i.e. Spanish, Chinese, Italian). On the other hand, satellite TV has become an interesting alternative way to receive television programmes because it is easily seen everywhere, except for those rural areas where reception is poor and cable TV is not available.


Then, with this background in mind, Chapter 3 shall analyse the phenomenon of advertising in English-speaking countries within the scope of the English language and shall review its main features in linguistic and semiological aspects. As we know, on giving information about the products, advertisers use many different techniques to get people to buy thing, from appealing to feelings (vanity, snobbery, beauty, manhood) to the use of clever sayings and puns.

For instance, adverts appeal to emotions in lots of different ways, among which we highlight the feel-good factor, which appeals our desire to feel good about ourselves (i.e. buying effective washing-up liquid); the creative consumer, which emphasizes the fact that if a product is too convenient, people won’t buy it (i.e. adding extras to food); sexual attraction, which is one of the most common and is used to promote anything from deodorant to fast cars; and power and

influence, which exploit people’s need to feel powerful by showing powerful or influential people or by telling stories in which problems are solved (i.e. Julio Iglesias-Viceroy; David Beckam-National Gallery).

Yet, there are potential factors beyond the fact of providing information for the consumer. For instance, there is a wide range of companies that pay for providing information on the market about their products, though they are not the most convenient and, therefore, there exist institutions which receive financial support through advertising. Moreover, the best advertisement even provide entertainment (photography, slogans, successful commercials) since they prove genuilely witty and funny. Indeed, advertisements are an integral part of our urban environment and are a prominent feature of some of the most famous landmarks in the world (i.e. international country’s flags; Marlboro and the American cowboys; Nessie and Loch Ness; CocaCola and happy feeling).

Without the advertising agencies support, companies would not probably sell their products as they do. Advertising companies employ psychologists to analyse potential consumers of a product. So, they try to sell things by promoting an image that will make people want to buy a product. The fact is that advertising is big business and no one is immune to its influence. Yet, why is an image so important when selling products?

We shall try to provide an answer to this question by examining (1) the sources of advertising (so as to relate them later on to the English-speaking cultures) in terms of, first, (a) semiological aspects and (b) linguistic aspects. Within the former issue, we shall adress the science of semiology, which studies signs in society whereas within the latter we shall discuss on journalistic language so as to get the main features of the language of advertising. Finally, we shall analyse the phenomenon of (2) advertising in English-speaking cultures nowadays.

3.1. The sources of advertising.

3.1.1. Semiological aspects: semiotics.

The term semiotics2 (also called semiology) is drawn from Greek’s mantikós (significant) and

clip_image003sêma (sign), which means ‘a feature of language or behaviour which conveys meaning’. Meaning, then, has a prominent role on ‘the study of signs’, that is, what signs refer to, and of

2 Note that French linguists (i.e. Saussure) prefer the term ‘semiology’ whereas the term ‘semiotics’ is more widespread in English –

speaking countries (i.e. C.S. Peirce; especially in the USA ).

responses to those signs. Signs are used conventionally within the language system since semiotics investigates the study of signs in communication processes in general (i.e. oral, written, paralinguistic ).

Therefore, semiotics concerns itself with the analysis of both linguistic and non- linguistic signs as communicative devices and with their systems. Therefore, it deals with patterned human communication in all its modes and in all contexts. When the act of communication is verbal, the code is the language. Regarding the structured use of the auditory-vocal channel, it may result in speech, but also non-verbal communicative uses of the vocal tract are possible by means of paralanguage, such as whistling or musical effects.

However, when we refer to non-verbal communication, visual and tactile modes are concerned. They may be used for a variety of linguistic purposes such as the use of sign languages. For instance, the receiver may get the message by sound (as in speech and birdsong), by sight (as in written language, reading, morse or traffic signs) or by touch (as in the Braille alphabet of the blind or secret codes).

Within the study of signs, we may distinguish three types: icons, symbols, and indexes. For instance, from the presence of a red flag or smoke, anyone with the requisite know ledge can infer the existence of what it signifies, danger or fire. There is an important difference between both signs, since smoke is a natural sign of fire, causally connected with what it signifies, whereas the red flag is a conventional sign of danger, which is a culturally established symbol. These distinctions between the intentional or non- intentional, on the one hand, and between what is natural and what is conventional, or symbolic, on the other, have long played a central part in the theoretical investigation of meaning and continue to do so.

Hence, in the twentieth century, and more recently, in this century, the field of linguistics as the scientific study of language, has seen a quite extraordinary expansion. The study of language has held a notorious fascination for some the greatest thinkers of the century and their relevant contributions, namely Ferdinand de Saussure (1916), Edward Sapir (1921), Ludwig Wittgenstein (1953), Benjamin Lee Whorf (1956), and Noam Chomsky (1972), whose influence has been felt far beyond linguistics.

As advertising is closely related to semiotics, we need to look at the concept of ‘sign’ in relation to ‘adverts’ within the main theoretical basis of these relevant linguists, and in particular, to Saussure’s ideas as it was he who laid the foundation principles of semiotics. However, before

discussing some relevant concepts, it is necessary for us to draw a distinction between the concepts of icons, symbols, and indexes in order to accurately deal with the concept of sign.

(1) First, icons are defined as those signs whose signifier bears a close resemblance to the thing they refer to (i.e. a photo, non-smoking signs, animal-crossing). Thus, a traffic sign which shows the silhouette of a car and a motorbike would be highly iconic because there is an image as a reference. Onomatopoeic words are iconic as well, although they are just a few (i.e. whisper, cuckoo, splash, crash, and so on).

(2) Second, symbols are defined as conventional and culturally established signs, that is, there is no natural relationship between them and their meanings, that is, between the signifier and the signified3. Most words, though, are symbolic signs, thus again traffic signs with no image references, but colours (i.e. a white background with a red circle around it, which signifies

‘something is forbidden’).

(3) Third, indexes are said to lie between the concepts of icons and symbols. An index is defined as a sign whose signifier (sound or image) is associated with a particular signified (concept) because we have learnt it previously, conventionally or culturally. For instance, a thermometer is an index of ‘temperature’ as well as a weathercock, a barometer and a sundial; other examples emerge from films where, for instance, the passing of time is shown by the quick forward movement of the clock-hands.

It is worth remembering that these three categories are not mutually exclusive. Thus, a sign can belong to the three types at the same time. For instance, in a TV commercial, we can see a shot of a woman speaking about make-up products (iconic), the words she uses (symbolic), and the effect of what is filmed (indexical). Also, with any kind of sign, we may learn cultural conventions that are necessary to the understanding of any sign, no matter how iconic or indexical it is. Convention is the social dimension of signs whereby there is an agreement among the users about the appropriate uses of and responses to a sign.

There are several concepts of the semiology which are worth defining when facing the outcome, for instance, (1) the product as a sign, which refers to the meaning of the advertisement. This depends on how signs and its ‘ideological’ effect are organized. The structures of meaning created by ads transform our concept of the product. They are presented not as useful objects in themselves, but as signs to which we attribute qualities of non- material value. For instance, the slogan ‘Give me a light’ in a recent Coca-Cola advertisement links ‘drinking Coca-Cola’ with

‘partying and enjoying’; (2) the sign as the signifier and the signified together. As stated, the sign is divided into a signifier (a material entity) and the signified (a mental concept or reference). In advertising they mean that often ads for cigarettes or cars (very often draw on images=signifiers) of such concepts (signified) refer to freedom or masculinity.

Also, (3) the distinction between denotation and connotation. The former refers to the literal, objective meaning of our perception of reality whereas the latter refers to any of the meanings attributed to an entity by means of conventions and dependent on a particular context (i.e. perfume, cars, luxury goods in relation to the concepts of freshness, sophistication and glamour). Note that in advertising there is almost no denotative communication whereas connotative meanings are used in order to attribute the products those extravalues that make it into a meaningful sign. Finally, (4) the codes. The formation (encoding) and understanding (decoding) of messages is made by means of codes which applied to advertising help the customer to interpret the message (images, speech, gesture) that an advertisement consists of.

3.1.2. Linguistic aspects: the language of advertising4.

With this theoretical background in mind, then, we shall try to approach the practical field of the linguistic aspects within the language of advertising since the main aim of communication means is not only to transmit information, that is, what, but also how to do it. It must be borne in mind that news is a representation of the world in language and, therefore, it imposes a structure of social, political, economic and moral values on whatever is represented, as well as a different treatment in presentation according to several factors (political, economic). This means that news is a construct which is to be understood in social and semiotic terms, and the relevance of the English language in this process of communication is understood as an international common code to transmit information.

clip_image004Bearing in mind that the main aims of journalistic communication are, first, to satisfy the need of informing about matters of common interest which any well- organised society has; second, to spread the news; and third, to cultivate the audience’s opinion, by interpreting the information

3 The distinction between signifier and signified will be addressed in next section: ‘Saussure: on the nature of the linguistic sign’.

4 The concept ‘journalistic style’ must not be confused with ‘journalistic language’ since both of them refer to mass media means, but in different ways. First of all, the journalistic language refers to the particular way language is used

by the press, radio and television whereas the journalistic style refers to the ways of expression, that is, informative, literary, and that of public opinion. Therefore, the latter comprises the three types of media in terms of style whereas the former does it in terms of language, form and structure.

spread and by using different semiotic devices (via informative objectivity/subjectivity), once an advertisement is conceived, it undergoes a process of elaboration before it is edited so as to transform the text into its own style without interfering directly. This means that, for our purposes, a commercial will be transformed into audio texts (radio) or audio-visual texts (television, video).

Since it is difficult to inform objectively, the text appearance may expose objectivity by means of extralinguistic signs whose existence permits us to speak about journalistic semiotic. The following set of semiotic devices may be used to accompany an item of news in order to guide and judge it, even though the linguistic expression may be the narration of events in a totally impartial way (i.e. images in commercials).

Thus, the context where the text appears (page, radio dials, TV commercial). Actually, in written texts, the most important location is the front page or the first page of each section (home vs. International policy, domestic life, sports, fashion, culture). Note that the pieces of news appearing on uneven pages, within each section, are rather relevant. Also, the number of columns (or radio/TV commercials) expresses the hierarchy which the text allows it. The item of news is, no matter what their length is, more relevant than the one published in just one place. Then the way we highlight the news (typeface, height of letters, intonation/emphasis in radio/TV) is also a sign of importance given by the text. Finally, in audio-visual texts, photographs and images illustrating a piece of news make it more relevant.

All these manipulations are the editorial staff’s responsibility so as to value, depreciate, give prominence or reduce the importance of the text. As a result, the published text is believed to present a general journalistic language which gathers several characteristics unique to each type. For instance, since advertising is said to be expensive, a careful study must be done in advance so as to provide the foundations for a good advertising campaing. In doing so, it is essential for an advertiser to handle the following factors.

First of all, (1) language as a powerful device of persuasion and connotation of the writer; (2) the product, to which the advertiser must be familiar so as to get a successful campaign; (3) the purpose of the advertisement before launching the campaign, for instance, to improve product sales, to change the audience’s attitude towards the product, to reinforce its reputation, and so on; (4) the medium, which will be determined by the audience since it must be best suited for the particular product; and finally, (5) the visual aspect. Actually, when talking about the language of advertisements, the visual aspect is perhaps the most important element within printed or broadcasting advertising, that is, headline, subhead, body copy and closing. They may

differ in the form and specific features of each medium, for instance, broadcasting on radio is determined by time, content and intonation whereas TV broadcasting allows images.

Yet, the linguistic element is sometimes given greater importance than the visual aspect. Attention and persuasive power are the two elements that shape the information content of the commercial. Among the most important linguistic features regarding syntax we include: readability given by simple, straightforward language, predominant nominal groups, and verbal groups which are sometimes omitted, though the most frequent tenses are imperative, present simple and future forms. With respect to lexis, we find a lot of adjectives and adverbs (keywords), descriptive vocabulary, favouring emotive words with specific connotation, and assertive uses. Finally, related to style, we can say that it must be persuasive, appreciatory and hyperbolic so as to persuade the customer.

3.2. Advertising in English-speaking cultures nowadays.

Since the first soap advertisements appeared in the 1960s, advertising has changed considerably. Nowadays, products receive expensive and highly polished exposure on radio and television, not only through direct adverts but also indirectly through the sponsorship of televised issues (sport, food, drinks, fashion). Obviously commercial radio and television depends heavily not only on advertising revenue, but also on high viewing figures. Efforts are made in the UK to prevent advertising from becoming intrusive (as Spanish advertising is), that is, to avoid repetitive and continuous advertising (15- minute gaps).

Also, advertisers have realized that quality is more attractive than quantity, so many companies spend a lot of money on their television campaigns to create a brand image. Yet, the sums spent by Guinness, British airways and Coca-Cola, for example, are aimed at using advertising as part of an overall strategy for their business since these companies do not need to be promoted. In short, they all aim to crete an image of feeling which they hope will be associated with the product being advertised, hence the wide variety of adverts: humourous (Barclaycard), spectacular (British Airways, Pepsi) or ambiguous and intriguing (Guinness). They may be linked to music (Levi’s), a spoken cataphrase (Heinneken), feature animals (Dulux, Andrex) or beautiful people (Weetabix, Martini).

The message may be implicit or direct and relies on the customer’s mind making a series of psychological links by association. The study of how symbols and visual/audio aspects work on the human mind in this way is clearly related to semiology, as we have seen. Actually, it is

known that certain colours may suit television (Labour political speeches against a red backdrop vs. Coca-Cola red container), aesthetical images may be pleasing (watches pictured at ten to two) as well as clothes (Martini and sexy clothes, Corn flakes and white trousers, to indicate freshness, health and brightness). Obviously these advertising techniques are common to all cultures.

Also, it is equally true that some associations will be exclusive to one culture and the minds educated within it. Therefore the markers of an advertisement must try to work out how the images of their ads might work within the framework of cultural references which constitute the cultural make-up of the viewing audience. In short, an advert which works in England might not be effective in other countries, such as Italy or Spain (i.e. the bumbling Spanish waiter in an English advert, the bowler-hatted Englishman in a Spanish advert). The wrong stereotype may not be transferred effectively to the country whose inhabitants it is supposed to represent. Hence the Spanish Cola -Cao ads could be offensive in multi-racial communities in Britain.

In general, as Europe moves towards a more unified cultural identity, such differences tend to disappear and products and their advertising become more and more cosmpolitan. However, it is still inevitable that a distinct type of advertising should arise in each culture, and that the distinctive characteristics which constitute each stereotype should consist not only of the products advertised but also of the semiotic aspect of the commercial, both on radio or television.


The mass media in English (press, radio, television) or the journalistic style is one of the most outstanding aspects of educational activity and, for our purposes, we must establish a distinction between the press (as a written means) and radio and television (as audio and audio- visual means). In the classroom setting all kinds of social and linguistic aspects of language may be brought to students in terms of means of communication so as to bring them closer to the world’s reality. Yet, how is this issue linked to our Spanish students? Basically, through the educational activity, both in and out the classroom, the former being developed in terms of tutorial or classroom activities and the latter by focusing on sociocultural aspects that exist within the students’ environment (home, friends, the media).

We may handle in class news from the British radio or television which make relevant the analysis of it in comparison to the Spanish media regarding the outstanding differences (time,

intonation, visual images, style, contents). So, radio and television may become familiar to Spanish students thanks to the similarity in terms of transmitting news in the fields of fashion, music, sports, and so on. Hence it makes sense to examine the historical background of both the radio and television in English, and check whether in Spain had the same development.

Currently, educational authorities are bringing about relevant changes for the school reality with the yearly international exchanges of British-Spanish language assistants in schools so as to promote the learning of the English language with native speakers. Actually, they can make students aware of certain sociocultural aspects of Britain related to the radio and television and encourage them to use the British media to get informed through new technologies, such as the Internet (through the Aula Plumier), since we can acceed to radio and television on the web. Also, the integration of Spain into the European Union makes relevant for students to become aware of the journalistic style so as to be able to appreciate the main similarities and differences with the Spanish one.

Also, this cultural dimension of the English language may be easily approached to students by the increasing number of European programs (Comenius, Erasmus, school trips) and technologies (the Internet, mobile phones, mail) which provide students with authentic material in context so as to get acquainted with other forms of journalism around Europe. Actually, among the stage objectives for both E.S.O. and Bachillerato students (stated respectively in RD

112 and RD 113/2002, 13 September) there is a clear reference to the fact of getting acquainted with other cultures so as to promote respect and, for our purposes, an attitude of critical awareness of other language systems.

Thus, E.S.O. objectives (5, 6) make reference to first, “Know and value the scientific and technological development. Its applications and importance in a physical and social environment” (objective 5), and secondly, to “obtain, select, deal with and transmit information using sources, methodologies and technological instruments, included the technologies of information and communication, proceeding in an organised, autonomous and critical way” (objective 6). Furthermore, within the Foreign Language General Objectives (8, 9, 10), we find a closer approach to the culturaldimension of English when saying that students are expected to “accede to the knowledge of the culture transmitted by the foreign language, developing respect towards it and its speakers, to achieve a better understanding between countries” (objective 8); “recognise the value of foreign languages as a means of communication between people belonging to different cultures and as an enriching element for social and interpersonal relations” (objective 9); and “use the foreign language as a means of communication with a ludic and creative attitude and enjoy its use” (objective 10).

On the other hand, Bachillerato students are expected to “understand and know how to express oneself fluently and correctly in the foreign language or languages being studied” (objective 2); and also, “to use the information and communication technologies to acquire types of knowledge and transmit information, solve problems and facilitate interpersonal relations, valuing its use critically” (objective 7). Furthermore, within the Foreign Language General Objectives (6, 7), we find a closer approach to the cultural dimension of English when saying that students are expected to “know the sociocultural aspects of the target language as a means to improve communication in the foreign language and for the critical knowledge of one’s own culture” (objective 6) and also, to “value the importance of the study of foreign languages as an element of understanding and encouragement of respect and consideration towards other cultures.”

Actually, the success partly lies in the way this issue becomes real to the users since theory about the radio and television only becomes relevant when students may check by themselves a television guide or the frequency of an English or Scottish radio programme in and out the classroom setting. This is to be achieved within the framework of the European Council (1998) and, in particular, the Spanish Educational System which establishes a common reference framework for the teaching of foreign languages where students are intended to carry out several communication tasks with specific communicative goals. Broadly speaking, the final aim is for students to be aware of their current social reality through the use of the media in the English language.


The journalistic style in Britain has traditionally followed the model we have already presented. Throughout most of the Commonwealth, the media in English has its roots in the British version. In fact, English is used as a technical language around the world, in medicine, computer science, air traffic control, and many other such areas of concentrated expertise and international user populations. Hence, the relevance of the English language makes of it the language of the media so as to transmit news all around the world.

As we have seen, Unit 68 has aimed to provide a useful introduction to the mass media in English and, in particular, radio and television. Chapter 2 has provided a general introduction to (1) the mass media in English in terms of means (press, radio, television), main aims regarding the audience, and broadcasting policy, regarding the main broadcasting corporations. Next, we have focused on radio and television in terms of definition, a brief history of the invention up to

the present day, its organization in the United Kingdom and also, out of it so as to better understand the scope of the English language within the mass media.

Then, with this background in mind, Chapter 3 has addressed the phenomenon of advertising in English-speaking countries has reviewed its main features in linguistic and semiological aspects by examining the sources of advertising in terms of, first, semiological aspects and linguistic aspects. Within the former issue, we have adressed the science of semiology, which studies signs in society whereas within the latter we have discussed the main features of journalistic language. Finally, we have analysed the phenomenon of advertising in English-speaking cultures nowadays.

So far, we have attempted to provide the reader with a general overview of the media within the United Kingdom, and its further influence out ot it. This information is relevant for language learners, even 2nd year Bachillerato students, who do not automatically detect differences between British and Spanish radio and television. So, learners need to have these associations brought to their attention in socio-cultural aspects within cross-curricular settings (Spanish language, history, technology –format, presentation). As we have seen, understanding how these means of communication work and are reflected in our world today is important to students, who are expected to be aware of the richness of the English language, not only in English- speaking countries, but also in worldwide terms.


– Andren, G. 1978. Rethoric and Ideology in Advertising. Liber Förlag, Stockholm.

– B.O.E. 2002. Consejería de Educación y Cultura. Decreto N.º 112/2002, de 13 de septiembre. Currículo de la

Educación Secundaria Obligatoria en la Comunidad Autónoma de la Región de Murcia.

– B.O.E. 2002. Consejería de Educación y Cultura. Decreto N.º 113/2002, de 13 de septiembre. Currículo de

Bachillerato en la Comunidad Autónoma de la Región de Murcia.

– Bromhead, Peter. 1962. Life in Modern Britain. Longman.

– Council of Europ e (1998) Modern Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment. A Common European Framework of reference.

– McLean, A. 1993. Profile UK. Heinemann, Oxford.

– Vaughan-Rees, M. 1995. In Britain. Richmond Publishing Editors.

Other sources include:

“British Empire.” Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. 2004. Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. 28 May 2004


The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2003, Columbia University Press (2004) (2004)