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The introduction of digital television in the UK: a study of its early audience

Theodoropoulou, Paraskevi-Vivi (2011) The introduction of digital television in the UK: a study of its early audience. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis examines the diffusion and adoption of digital television (DTV) in the UK by its first generation audience. It reveals how the spread of this innovation took place, and what were its early users and uses. The main objective is to investigate the processes through which a new medium and its new audience are shaped. The study focuses on Sky digital and its subscribers, covering the first four years of the life of DTV from its launch in October 1998. My analysis draws on empirical data derived from a UK-wide postal survey of Sky digital subscribers, a series of in-depth interviews with Sky digital users, and an analysis of advertising and marketing materials. By revealing a slice of time in British media and audience history, I argue that a number of forces influence the shaping and meaning construction of a new medium. I exemplify these by analysing early DTV in terms of the circuit of culture, showing how these forces contributed to its social and cultural shaping. DTV is a hybrid medium encompassing both old and new services. In discussing how it was promoted, taken up, used and made meaningful in the lives of early users, I address wider issues of how people understand and accept novelties and whether/why they are receptive to change, or resistant to it, staying attached to old habits. In demonstrating that early users focused on the offer of more channels/bigger choice/better picture and did not rush to embrace the new interactive internet-like features of DTV, I discuss how despite the hype presenting DTV as transformative, and despite fast take-up, access to it did not necessarily equate to use of all its services. For early users, DTV was a relatively conservative enhancement of traditional TV. I argue that the introduction of a new medium entails continuity not only in technological development, but also in consumption processes, resulting in the co-existence of 'old' and 'new'. Several theoretical perspectives and methodologies are integrated in the emergent history of this now old medium when it was new. The thesis recounts DTV's biography as manifested in the moments of production and design, representation and, particularly, consumption. The thesis is informed by and adds to theories of diffusion of innovations and of domestication. Its core theoretical contribution is that, in empirically addressing the relationship between new media diffusion and social change by drawing on domestication theory, it advances the theory of diffusion of innovations, expanding its theoretical and methodological scope by examining social and cultural processes within the household and people‟s lives.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2011 Paraskevi-Vivi Theodoropoulou
Library of Congress subject classification: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
Sets: Departments > Media and Communications
Supervisor: Livingstone, Sonia

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