Television Audiences Across the World: Deconstructing the Ratings Machine
This book is the first to explore the composition of television ratings in a cross-cultural, comparative manner. Using both communication history and the sociology of quantification, Television Audiences Across the World illuminates why the whole television industry, the television audiences themselves, refer to ratings as the main way to represent the television-watching public. It shows how a specific technology, the peoplemeter, has become a "state of the art" in very different cultural contexts, including major non-Western countries. It analyses how television audience measurement succeeds in homogenizing diverse ways of watching television among different populations, creating "apparent nations", and at times ignoring entire regions or parts of the population. The chapters in this volume discuss why television audience measurement has become the dominant model for the evaluation of popularity in the post-modern world, the true "voice of the masses", still powerful in supposedly fragmented societies.
The television audience measurement (TAM) system in Russia has three main characteristics. First, Russia remains a huge, widely spread country with a variety of populations and cultures. This means that the "national" TAM system had tyo make hard choices in order to produce a "national" Russian public. Second, the Russian media model has evolved into something unique, different both from democratic media systems and from the old "totalitarian" incarnation of Soviet times. A strong authoritarian aspect has been discernible throughout the leadership of Vladimir Putin, since 2000, as have a number of neoliberal market economy practices. The short history of TAM in Russia is also related to the globalization of this particular kind of technology and knowledge. Two key players can be identified here: international advertisers, who exported the need for ratings, and the international measurement companies (today TNS), which tried to enter a new but, as we will see, encountered difficulty in this endeavour, which requires both neutrality and a balancing of conflicting interests not easily reconciled.