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COURSE NAME: "TV After TV: Industry Practices, Global Formats and Televisual Style"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Peter Sarram
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 11:30-12:45 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: COM 220

What is television’s fate in the global digital cultures of convergence? The course examines new programming and advertising strategies in the medium of television, the reconfiguration of traditional and the emergence of new roles within the industry, the development of new global production and distribution strategies and models as well as how these transformations shape actual program content.

In the last twenty odd years television has reinvented itself in numerous ways. The demise of the traditional network system in the US, the transformations of the hybrid public-commercial models in Europe and the rise of multi-channel cable and global satellite delivery, the myriad other manners in which televisual content can now be accessed and consumed across media platforms and screens, changes in regulation policies and ownership rules, technological innovations in screen design and the development of digital systems like TiVo --all have completely altered the practice and consumption of television. While these transformations might point to the present as a post-TV age –since the technologies, program forms, regulations and practices of looking associated with the medium have been radically transformed— television has never been as ubiquitous a presence as it is today, a fundamental feature of the spectacular consensus across the globalized spaces of converging media cultures. 


The course wishes to assess and investigate the persistent centrality of television (against all odds) by examining the influence of its industrial organization and its practices and the ways in which it creates value and meaning. The course will provide an introduction to the inner workings of the television industry focusing on a number of key features of the contemporary television landscape: television as a business, the technologies of television, the infrastructures of the industry, program development, the creation of formats and production practices, new advertising strategies such as product placement and branded entertainment and the development of a specific televisual style.

The course will be organized around lectures, presentations, class discussion and the regular screening of audiovisual material. 

By the end of the course students will be able to answer the following questions


1.    How have the industry and the practice of television changed in the recent past?

2.    What are the key roles and what functions do these play in the (re)organization of television in the converged landscape of 21st century media?

3.    What is the difference of conceiving television content as programs or formats?

4.    How are programs developed, formats created and content produced and distributed within the new global televisual environment?

5.    What are the processes of localizing television formats (the creative, cultural and regulatory issues that are raised)?

6.    What does the global landscape of television look like?

7.    How do promos, spoilers, media paratexts, product placement and branded entertainment affect the conception and reception of television?

8.    How has the changed cultural, technological and social context of television affected specific aesthetic styles associated with TV?


 Students’ performances in the course will be assessed on the basis of a mid-term and a final exam. A final research/analysis paper will also be required. The mid-term and final exams will be indicative of the level of engagement with the raw materials of the course while the final paper will demonstrate how those raw materials will have been put to use. Students will also develop and present a specific program format and explain its trajectory from initial conception to final airing in the global marketplace. Mid-term Exam: 20%; Final Exam: 20%; Final Paper: 25%; Program Format Assignment: 20%; Attendance and Participation: 15%  

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.


Please note that frequent absences automatically lower your participation grade.

Also consider that three unexcused absences (those not justified by a medical certificate or a note from the administration) will result in your final grade for the course to be dropped by one letter grade. Anything above five unexcused absences will result in failure.

Lateness: Students more than 10 minutes late are marked as absent. Late arrival (less than 10 minutes) is marked as such, and 3 late arrivals are counted as one absence.

Class procedure:   Students are requested to make sure their cell phones are turned off (and not just muted) at the start of class.

As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


Week 1&2:  

The State of Television

          -Traditional TV

          -The Post-Network Era


Week 2&3:   

Everywhere But On TV: The Technological Revolution of Television

          -Television Technologies and Infrastructures


Week 4&5:    

Making Television: Changes in the Practices of Creating Television

          -Roles and Practices

          -Making Programs, Developing Formats

          -Programming Strategies in Network, Multi-Channel and Online TV


Week 6:        

Revolutionizing Distribution: Breaking Open the Network Bottleneck

          -DVDs, VODs, Downloading, Broadband Channels, Piracy


Week 7:          

Advertising, Product Placement and Branded Television

          -The New Economics of Television


Week 8:       

Assessing the Audience

          -Transformed Measurement Techniques and Technologies


Week 9&10:    

The Global Televisual Landscape

          -Technologies and Audiences, Broadcasting and Reception


Week 11&12:        

Television Culture: Reality TV, Tabloid Culture, Interactivity and Premium Content

          -Promos, Paratexts, Spoilers, Hype, Bumpers, Intros and Spinoffs


Week 13&14:

Televisuality: Or, Television Style