In the Article The Concept of Live Television: Ontology as Ideology, Jane Feuer presents the idea of liveness in television. Television as an institution identifies all messages emanating from the apparatus as live. However in the technological advances, the meaning of live has greatly changed. Computerized editing equipment has made editing as flexible as most film editing. Much of this new equipment is used for the recording and freezing of live sports events that were supposed to be the glory of the medium. Even in terms of the simplest conception, live television is a collage of film, video, and live all woven into a complex scheme.
Another point made in her article is the concept of flow as a way of explaining the effect of immediacy the experience of television gives. Television becomes this continuous never ending sequence in which it is impossible to separate texts. This idea of liveness smoothes over text breaks for things such as commercials. This is a fascinating idea because live programs are the most popular, and since this concept makes us not really realize when commercials are going to occur, we end up watching commercials more, creating a large and very tuned-in audience for advertisers. This experience of flow relates with the television-viewing situation because the set is in the home. It is always available, is a part of everyone’s daily lives, and one can intercept the flow at any point. Television is designed to be watched casually, without full concentration, and only the commercials command attention and try to dazzle you for your attention. I know that I usually turn the television on for background noise and I rarely sit down and only watch television. Even as I write this paper the television is on in the background, not really being watched. Television then becomes an extremely ordinary experience, since the property of flow seems so real and ordinary.
One key point I found interesting was how the network television never truly exploits its capacity for instantaneous and unmediated transmission. Only the ideological connotations of live television are exploited in order to overcome the contradiction between flow and fragmentation in television practice. So even when the public thinks they are watching a live broadcast of say a sports event, the networks are still cutting back and forth between events, and freezing certain segments and replaying them, not to mention the breaks for commercials. However the idea of liveness overrules all of this.
The idea of the morning television program creates a perfect study of this ideology of a live program. The flow of these programs alternates between different medias and between local and national stories. There is a constant clock on the bottom of the screen during these programs in order to remind you that what you are watching is indeed live. The live interviews that are done on the show are edited in a way to create the illusion of the interviewer and the interviewee being in the same live space together as the audience. These terms of liveness create a sense of flow that overcomes fragmentation of space and is thrust into the viewer’s home. The medium of this type of television also implicates the ideology of the family.
I myself greatly agree with most of what Feuer is saying, except for her ideas of flow. While she says that liveness smoothes over the breaks of television such as commercials, I argue that in a live program, the commercials are more obvious and seem to interrupt the show more as a whole. I understand the point of a person getting so caught up in the liveness of a show that you don’t notice the point of mediation, but how many times have you been watching television and not notice when the commercials come on! All her other points I agree with, especially this fixated notion of live television. A perfect example of how important liveness is to me, is shown in Saturday Night Live. I always watch this show, however as soon as I see that it has been pre recorded, I turn it off, weather I have seen it or not. This obsession with live television can be seen on the morning shows, when one of the reporters keeps saying things such This is today on NBC or Live from Rockefeller Center. This type of television show is another medium of television that I find myself watching a great deal. After reading this article I realized the importance of live TV on my life. Weather or not a show or program is live greatly determines whether or not I watch it. Although it costs a great deal to produce a live show, I agree with the article that many more shows are going to try and produce these live ideals in order to attract a larger audience.
Film and Cinema