How can notions of genre help to understand media production and consumption?

Essay, 2004

9 Pages, Grade: 2.1



Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. The concept “Genre”

3. Genre evaluated by two different television programmes

4. Genre evaluated by two different newspapers

5. Conclusion

6. References

1. Introduction

To understand television programmes and how they are organised, it is important to look at the different kinds of programmes and how they are standing in context with other programmes. Every programme has its own conventions, codes and signs and this is why it is divided in different genres.

In this essay I will try to find out, if it makes a difference whether television programmes are subdivided into genres and if it influences the production of a programme and also the consumption of the viewers.

The examples used for this discussion are two different television programmes. One is the reality TV show “The Osbournes” which was first broadcasted in 2002 on the music channel “MTV” and than on Channel four; the other one is the news programme “BBC News at ten” which is broadcasted on BBC one.

As a second media form I will take the two popular British newspapers “The Sun” a tabloid format newspaper and “The Times” printed as broadsheet format.

2. The concept “Genre”?

The word “genre” is a French word and is translated in English as “type” or “kind”.

It was first used by Aristotle who used it to divide Greek literature into categories as tragedy and comedy1.

Today “genre” is used to describe movies, works of art, literature, music, video games etc. and to subdivide them into their spatial and temporal relation to artistically contents. Genre can be also particularized into “subdivided genres” like specific direction of music or movies, which have close connections to each other2.

In media studies “genre” was and still is often used in relation to Hollywood films3.

3. Genre evaluated by two television programmes

Every television programme has its own features. Reality TV shows are produced in a different way than my other example (TV news). The programme needs to attract the viewer in its own way by using signs and codes which the viewer can identify and understand as the programme he or she wants to watch. The production has to bear in mind that the viewer has an expectation when he/she switches on the chosen programme.

Both programmes “The Osbournes” and the “BBC news at ten” belong to the factional/ realistic programmes and should be based on truthful events.

The news informs the viewers about what happened or will happen in the world, while “The Osbournes” can be placed in the amusement genre. Off course it informs the viewer as well about what happens in the famous family, but it doesn’t really influence the life of anyone and it doesn’t show serious topics.

Someone who watches the “BBC news at ten” will probably know what he/she can expect, because the programme has been broadcasted since October 2000 and it replaced the former “Nine o’clock news”. About five million people watch it every day which make it a very famous programme. Most people watch it in context with other programmes that are broadcasted before or after the news.

Television news is a specific genre that has a lot of extreme semiotic codes and signs and which a viewer can easily identify as such.

The “BBC news at ten” starts with loud and dramatic music, which is based on brass instruments. This helps to focus the attention of the viewer that a new programme is starting. The “BBC news at ten” programme does this by playing this dramatic melody that signifies that it will be a serious programme. The boundary between the rest of the television schedule and the news is obvious, more obvious than the boundaries to the rest of the “flow”. The seriousness is also noticeable because of the dress code of the news presenter. It is an adopted code from the social life and the viewer will recognize from the way the news presenter is dressed, what it means for the programme itself. There are also a lot of other adoptions from the society that are specially used in the news, however also from other television genres like sports shows and quiz programmes. The “BBC news at ten” uses signs which the audience will recognize from these other genres, like voice-over reports and interviews4.


Excerpt out of 9 pages


How can notions of genre help to understand media production and consumption?
University of Central Lancashire
Reading the media
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Anonymous, 2004, How can notions of genre help to understand media production and consumption?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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