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Comunicar Journal 25: Quality Television (Vol. 13 - 2005)

Towards an index of television quality: an Argentinian experience


Marcela Farré


One of the main objectives of this research has been to measure the quality of television programmes. The results that have been achieved give a symptomatic description of television nowadays. However, the most significant contribution lies in finding some specific and objectively acknowledged indicators in the field, in order to strive for and reach quality, if this is desired. The demand for better quality in television is neither new nor uniform, because different groups and sectors in society have been complaining for years against the presence of «junk television». This general dislike is addressed by the very same object -television- but with different requirements. The academic community, foundations, educational institutions as well as family associations and other groups show their concern for the kinds of representations of the world portrayed on the screen. Furthermore, mass media professionals and advertising companies also express a desire for a better quality in the products they support. Although it is hard to define «quality», as it seems a subjective term and of wide denotation, there is data that shows constant indicators and other criteria that could be complementary. Surprisingly, one of the main constants in defining television quality is that it should transmit positive values to society, such as tolerance, justice, peace (in opposition to any kind of violence whether physical or verbal), respect for diversity and protection of the weak. Other criteria emphasize professionalism (accuracy) and artistic quality. But above all, the value of diversity is highlighted (plurality in all aspects, in the content and format of the programmes). Critics are worried about every kind of distortion between television and the experiences of most parts of society, such as unimaginable situations or the massive presence of disintegrated families and magic denouement to character conflicts. Also, people without noble aims seem to cover the «real world», if the situations that dominate the screen at rating time are considered. Little time is left to display personal willingness, values that motivate action, the search for common welfare or for a fairer society. It is positively surprising that some businessmen from the mass media or advertising companies have stated their commitment to social values, even in written form, in agreements or in their business policies. Due to this, it is important and urgent not only to ask for coherence to the sectors that are responsible for the topics that are displayed on the screen but also to foster audience education so that it is the same audience that can be in charge of this demand. Many critics think that the agreement is impossible if those who produce television only consider the business and technical interest and forget two equally important aspects: on the one hand the function that television has in a democratic society and on the other hand, the consequences of a product of poor quality, beyond a high but short-termed rating. Reception research has shown that public behaves following two simultaneous logics that theyperfectly distinguish: the logic of television usage (what the public chooses to watch) and the logic of judgement (the public’s reflection on what they watch and their verdict).Hence, a programe with high rating is not a success if what really matters is the fidelity it achieves and the positive assessment of its quality. This index of television quality proposal can, therefore, be a contribution to achieve quality.


Televisión, quality measuring, social values, diversity

PDF file in Spanish


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