As for the study on mass media such as TV, the most familiar book to the public is <Understanding Media> by Mashall Mcluhan. Mcluhan took a perspective that new environment was to be socially created when technology was developed. All the cultures rely on technical features of dominating media in the relevant era. Seeing as how features of dominant and major media in each era regulate the culture, in other words, message, he insisted that ‘media is the message.’ It is that a medium such as TV is not a mere tool for conveying the message, but a medium serves as a distinct role of message. It warns how humans do not simply watch TV but, TV dominates the awareness of humans. This is relevant to a phenomenon of how ‘putting the cart before the horse.’ Seen in this perspective, medium is not a specific target but an expended existence of humans and also serves as a role of regulating the individual awareness and social relationship at the same time. He insisted that media served as a role of massaging a particular area of human brain deriving them to come up with specific way of thinking and behavioral patterns.
TV is still exerting an influential power on daily lives of people in modern era even though Internet is currently serving as an important role of conveying information in the informatized society. Most of the information on portal site, a gateway to access to Internet, is provided by previous media such as TV or newspaper. Hairstyle or clothes of celebrities on TV tend to make a national vogue within several weeks. People tend to regard reports from TV news as a truth without doubt. TV drama beloved by the public create ups and downs in the emotion of housewives.
Dallas Smyth more actively criticized on TV through ‘Audience Commodity.’ He focused on analysis for problems of TV advertisements insisting that ‘publisher sold books to audiences, TV broadcasting network sold audiences to advertisers.’ What does this mean? How audiences become an item sold out to advertiser?
Major profits in TV are from advertisement. Advertisement expense is completely determined in proportion with ratings. Therefore, broadcasting network is in continuous competition for ratings to produce more of profits. Broadcasting network creates programs with higher ratings and receives expense advertisement fees by using them. Seen in this perspective, it is said that audiences are sold out to advertisers.
However, it requires much more than higher ratings. In the perspective of advertiser, economic status of audiences as well as ratings in the program is important. For example, advertising luxury cars fails if major target of audiences for the program are working classes. Therefore, TV broadcasting network plans and airs programs that groups of audience with economic power in social status higher than working classes most likely watch. This is why main characters in the drama are involved in a professional career such as doctor, professor, or designer, or entrepreneurs. In addition, it is related to preference of working classes as to why apartments larger than 40py or expensive antique furniture shown as a prop are used as a background of drama.
According to Mcluhan, audiences are not a passive item but an existence working for advertisers to have what they want to purchase. Audiences pioneer the consumables and service market to be provided to them. They serve as a role of actively advertising the relevant items when people wear a certain type of clothes or ride on vehicles. For example, certain textbooks used at preparatory academy made the greatest hit since the size of them was too large to be carried in a bag. What was it? Since they were too big to be put in a bag requiring a student to carry it in hands, it is relevant to where students become a moving advertisement sign walking around the street at that time.
As pointed by them, TV might serve as a role of making humans as a consuming machine without critical mind over enriched amount of spirit or artistic impression. Without having them notified how they became an item sold out to advertiser, they were in a delusion as if they selected programs and enjoyed leisure in a certain way. As a result, humans might be collectively trained to have a non-critical and system-maintaining preference without building critical perspective on society.