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Television schedules are developed to factor time from daily perspectives to the season-long organization. Many changes have occurred over the history of television operations and programming. Television programming began with some outdated methods of programming until the formation of today’s broadcast automation was developed (1). This paper will look at the main forms of programming in history up to the current approaches of scheduling. Programming has changed from analogue to digital such that television programs can be used to create a new show, maintain the same audience and remain competitive in the industry (2).
In the first five decades of television, powerful institutions controlled programming and more content relayed in this media. Therefore, institutions that wanted large audiences, for example, the National Commercial Organization in the United States, programmed the broad ranges of programs available to the audience. Scheduling required large amounts of money, and it relied mostly on finances provided by advertisers (3).
The government bureaucracies and the cultural guardians also controlled programming in various aspects. Television programming did not have much room to grow since it had to follow certain prescribed procedure and regulations within the industry. For example, the government programs could be allowed to air at different times of the day and the material aired was strictly regulated contrary to the currently observed freedom of the media.
In the past decade, programming has grown to a digital system with limited government control of the content. The centralized method of controlling television schedule changed, and new institutions came in to provide a different economic, technological and organizational framework (4). Since the decentralization of television programming, there has been differentiation and more innovation in this field.
The changes in programming suggest that television schedules in the past decades focused more on the extensive and continuous airing of limited information (5). The current forms of programming explain that scheduling is not static, but changes over time. Television programming changed from living programs to design programs whereby agencies could design, budget, and sponsor programs to meet the market needs (6).
This form of programming involves a combination of particular shows that will attract the attention of the audience for a specified time of the day. For example, in television stations of the United States, the Saturday mornings are cartoon shows targeting children. On Sunday evenings, the stations are male-oriented sports targeting a male audience. Between 1984 and 1987, National Broadcasting Cooperation had a favourite series line up aired on a Thursday evening. Block programming can be seen on the televisions, especially for cable networks. This form of programming has been used to expand an audience by providing program reruns with the aim of ensuring customer loyalty (7).
Counter-programming involves providing an attractive alternative show in order to try to get the audience from a competitor. The Colombia Broadcasting System has used this form of programming to air a show that is attractive to women in order to counter for the Monday night football that focuses on men (8). Hammocking is a form of programming where an unpopular show is aired on two popular shows.
The scheduling of this kind takes in mind the belief that those viewers will not change the channel because an unfamiliar show has come up. Hammocking has been used to increase the rating of the new show when it appears between two established programs. Leads-in and leads-out is a strategy just like hammocking, whereby a show tries to be successful through association with others. In Leeds-inside, a popular program is lined before a less established program. Leads-out involves lining a popular program after a less popular show. (9)
Bridging involves putting a long-format show so that the audience will lose interest and abandon it for a competitive show. Ridge poling involves distributing successful shows on different nights of a week so that they can act as lead-ins or lead-outs. However, television states have done away with the combination of these strategies after successfully developing a block or a few programs. Stunting is a form of programming that is used to nurture viewership for a few weeks. (10) A stunt is designed to be attractive and gain the attention of the viewers, a popular star is made to appear on another show to get the attention of the viewers on the show.
The stunt mostly involves creating suspense through delaying a show for a few weeks. Through the stunts, a program is stealing the audience of the competitor’s show because the interest is raised. These changes in scheduling strategies have enabled televisions to keep up with the changes in technological advancement. Scheduling has, therefore, been made easier and also attracted more viewers.
All these strategies have been developed over time as technology advanced throughout the history of television. The television industry has also gained more freedom of operation, hence speeding up the rate at which programming is developing. Some of these strategies can be used interchangeably and to compliment the changes in the digital form of programming. It is evident in the world that 2015 is being the deadline for digital migration.
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