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REVISTA ICONO 14, 2010, Nº 15, pp. 22-36. ISSN 1697-8293.

Madrid (España)
Wieslaw Godzic: Various faces of interactivity: remarks on television
Recibido: 01/10/2009 – Aceptado: 15/01/2010


Palabras clave
INTERACTIVITY: Interactividad, Television,
Recepción pasiva y activa


Interactivity, Television,
Passive and Active Reception
Wieslaw Godzic More or less everybody knows what interactiv-
ity is in contact with the media; we not only
Full-professor watch them passively (as it is commonly, yet
Warsaw School of Social Sciences and Humanities. Chodakowska
mistakenly, believed), but we also react to
Street 19/31, 03815 Warsaw (Polska) - Email: wgodzic@swps.edu.pl their content (immediately or with some
delay). Even this very first trait of our attitude

Resumen towards media facts seems to raise doubts;

because watching has never been determined
by passivity. “Work” (also in the psychoanalyt-
Se da un cierto consenso acerca de lo que la interactividad es ical sense of this word) with conventions,
recalling interpretative contexts or recognition
en contacto con los medios: no los percibimos de forma pasiva
of genre characteristics cannot be called
(lo que es comúnmente, aunque erróneamente, creído) sino passive behavior. Present article deals with this
que reaccionamos a su contenido (inmediatamente o con algún idea and focuses on the king media: television.
retraso). Sin embargo, si profundizamos en esta afirmación,
incluso este primer aspecto de nuestra actitud ante los medios
es susceptible de reformularse, ya que la recepción nunca ha
sido pasiva. El simple hecho de “trabajar” (también en el senti-
do sicoanalítico del término) con convenciones, reclamando
contextos interpretativos de características de género no pue-
de llamarse nunca propiamente comportamiento pasivo. El
presente artículo desarrolla esta idea y la ejemplifica con el
escenario más privilegiado: el medio rey de la televisión.

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Wieslaw Godzic: Various faces of interactivity: remarks on television

Watching has never been determined by My discussion focuses on the questions
passivity. The reception with conventions, concerning the nature of interactivity of
recalling interpretative contexts or recog- television. This choice will make me deal
nition of genre characteristics cannot be with a more problematic object of exami-
called passive behavior. The receiver un- nation; interactivity between computers
doubtedly reacts to media content – with- and their users (and between the users
out delving at this time into how they af- themselves) seems to be by all means “ob-
fect him. The media “teach” receivers in vious". I am interested in television of the
may ways: they show how to behave and recent years, in particular its programming
how not to; they make us realize conse- and the method of using Polish channels in
quences of various choices. The question is the context of the notion of interactivity.
by what principle do we assign one code First, I will describe the issue from a tech-
name “interactivity” to all these relations? nological and humanistic point of view. In
Perhaps it is a methodological error or, the following parts I will give examples of
which would be even worse, we create interactivity from the last ten-odd years,
such a broad category that it in fact has no whereas in the last part I will focus on the
practical meaning. remote control device, one of the most
Besides, we may ask if interactivity means common gadgets for some, and an institu-
that the media adjust to people, or these tion, or a gizmo-to-think-with, for others.
are people who adjust to the media. Those Finally, I will try to address the questions
who believe that human’s supremacy in concerning the possible methods of (neces-
these contacts is indisputable should re- sary or enforced) development of interac-
member that antropomorphization of com- tive reactions in the Polish media society in
puters or adding ornaments to TV sets are the forthcoming years. These questions
not rare things and give sufficient grounds have mainly been prompted by the research
to support the latter part of the above conducted in 2006 at the request of UPC,
alternative. comparing the habits of Polish television
viewers to those of other nations.

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Wieslaw Godzic: Various faces of interactivity: remarks on television

1. When technology imposes interactivity or

when man cannot live without it
We are compelled to a great extent by Several interesting standpoints crystallized
modern technology to interact with devices in discussions regarding interactivity. The
(or other men using the same device or a Polish researcher Ryszard Kluszczyński
class of similar devices). It would be a [1992: 96] states that this notion is the key
mistake to believe that clicking buttons or characteristic of the new media art. He also
moving a mouse are but a play of no im- claims that the traits of interactivity should
portance or influence on the process of not be attributed to the relationship be-
communication. On the contrary, the tween the sender and the receiver, as
knowledge of behavior of the media re- commonly believed, but to the message
ceiver is priceless for the advertising indus- itself. Thereby the work-message carries
try, programming editors in broadcasting the trait of interactivity and this feature is
stations and for media market regulators. its structural characteristic. In this sense,
What is more, all the communication theo- we understand interactivity as special quali-
ries which preferred the communication ties of the work which „invites the receiver
from the sender to the receiver crumbled to join the conversation” or, in an extreme
to dust. It is more and more evident that it case, may “seduce” him. The potency of
is the receiver who dominates in the con- such contact is embedded in the work – it
temporary audio-visual communication. It can be discovered and followed up, ig-
is perhaps most obvious on the Internet, nored or simply go unnoticed.
where the receiver of information had long It raises the vexed question of interactivity
forgotten of being passive and became a meant as the common access and availabili-
“prosumer” – a productive consumer. ty of contacts, in other words whether the
Meanwhile, the issue is not that obvious fact that the contacts are reciprocal is the
with respect to the older media. Naturally, most important in the process. The answer
there is evidence of feedback: readers write is no – the acting force which initiates the
to editors, call live shows, send text mes- need of contact between all elements of the
sages indicating their choices. However, communication structure is social by na-
the phenomenon seem “natural” and raise ture, rather than technological or merely
no excitation. Anyway, we know that it contextual. What is more, it possesses
had existed before the dawn of the digital traits of a special need and authority be-
media era. cause, as Mark Andrejevic puts it, “At the
extreme, interactivity ties a particular act

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Wieslaw Godzic: Various faces of interactivity: remarks on television

of production to a guaranteed act of con- The interactivity of the second kind reflects
sumption. In exchange, consumers are the relationship between the media and the
promised a degree of control over the other parts of the social structure. Accord-
production process: that power over the ing to the Danish researcher: „The research
means of production will, in effect, be questions are familiar to the media field -
shared” [Andrejevic, 2001]. media have been said to function as a
Indeed, in addition to often quoted ludic watchdog, a Fourth Estate, a public sphere,
functions, the strength of interactivity is or an institution-to-think-with.” The third
based on giving the receiver-producer, in kind of interactivity concerns the relation-
other words prosumer, control (or an ship between the entity and its social
illusion of control) over the other elements sources. Jensen emphasizes the role of
of the communication structure. Thus, he computer users, stating that „users perform
may change the text and create it anew a range of actions - the (re)production of
along his own rules. He has the capacity to physical objects, of personal relationships,
change the terms and channels of the organizations, communities, and of entire
transmission, or even transfer the existing societies” [185].
“content” to the new media (at this point The broad scope of understanding of this
interactivity strongly correlates with inter- notion leads to an inevitable conclusion
textuality, convergence and the much that in a communication by means of the
older principle of dialog – this coincidence television medium the second and third
of relationships has been well described by type of interactivity seem pre-eminent. In
Henry Jenkins [1992]). other words (seemingly) trivial clicking on
Some researchers [Jensen, 2002] perceive a remote control button, when associated
interactivity as a complex broadcast- with television, inherently leads towards
receive game with three main participants: strongly social interpretations concerning
the medium, structure and agency. As a both the general nature of social relation-
result of three relations (represented by ships and the role of the media in a given
three sides of a triangle) between these group.
elements (represented by three vertices of This point of view is emphasized by anoth-
the triangle), three kinds of interactivity er Polish researcher: “Still, the interactivity
are created. The interactivity of the first of this medium (television – WG) is
kind is the relationship between the user strongly restricted, chiefly by the specific
and the medium: „this type of interactivity nature of the stream of visual messages in
may be defined as selectivity - selections by which a quarter of a century ago Raymond
the user are required for the interaction to Williams saw the capacity to place the
proceed at all” [Jensen, 2002: 184-185]. television world in the circle of our per-

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Wieslaw Godzic: Various faces of interactivity: remarks on television

sonal, even intimate experience, and at the immanence at the same time” [Bauer, in
same time to take us “out there”. There- press].
fore, this interactivity would be similar to Therefore, it may be said that the interac-
that of a book and literature with its worlds tivity of television must be limited, to a
which draw us in, as if we belonged to significant extent, in view of television
them. This interactivity cannot be reduced strategy to seize privacy. Television more
to mental processes of completing the often simulates reality than delivers it. This
“indefinable spaces” and “specification” of also applies to the sphere of interactivity;
the message. It demands experience of television makes us convinced that we do
alienation, a distance between us and the something whereas in fact we do very
world we communicate with, and “immer- little, if anything.
sion” in this world of transcendence and

2. Can a remote control become the

essence of interactivity?
Roaming the cultural landscapes, being the digital medium with its message and the
opposite of stillness and awaiting – the human perception abilities. Let us try to
traits of a true rover - take us closer to the look at the moment into this relationship,
contemporary concepts of cultural naviga- where the receiver of digital transmission
tion. Paul Levinson has conceived an starts to notice that what he faces is a new
anthropotropic concept which describes quality. The question is, shouldn’t we,
the man-driven evolution of the media in instead of focusing on technology, speak of
which the media start to function in a man- a radical revolution from the moment
ner similar to human senses. In his opinion, when the change has been noticed by the
there is a three-stage scheme of relations receiver/user and accepted by him as
between the media and the human world. “normal”? I am thinking of an attempt to
The equilibrium of the initial stage was look at new technologies from an anthro-
soon distorted by the media. Yet, the pological point of view, rather than merely
emergence of the new media was to re- technological one. It is possible to use new
store the previously lost balance. technologies against their “spirit”, and vice-
I think that starting from the “democracy of versa: “old” technologies can be used in
media meanings” proposed by the British such a way as if they were “brand new”.
school of cultural sciences, we should no- This gives raise to a number of questions:
tice an important disagreement between a about our individual capabilities to perceive

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Wieslaw Godzic: Various faces of interactivity: remarks on television

digital television, then about social skills in In Polish television interactivity com-
this respect. These questions concern the menced in the nineties with Polsat offering
technical culture already existing in a given “movies at request”, and hit parades based
community, but also the methods of learn- on viewers calling in. Viewers also played
ing it, or the very consciousness that these the role of jury, e.g. in the kids talent
things should be taught. A story of one of program Od przedszkola do Opola. Audiotele
the first VCRs at a Polish university, back (ironically referred to as “Idiotele” because
in the beginning of the eighties, is a good of trivial questions) was used as a basis for
example here. There was an employee programming plans concerning soap operas
appointed to watch over the machine as it production. More mature forms of interac-
recorded programs, even late at night. tivity in Polish television were related to a
Nobody believed instruction manuals at computer-themed program for adolescents
that time, there was even no custom to called Tenbit (TVN) which, for proper
read them. On the one hand, this process is perception, required a participant (who
continuing: my new printer, purchased was no longer a mere viewer) to be con-
online and paid for with a credit card, has currently online on an appropriate web
no written manual at all, other than a few page and to send responses via mobile
pictograms. “Instead” it lets me know in a phone. One could risk claiming that Wielki
beautiful female alto that it has just started Brat (Big Brother) and Idol effected a transi-
or finished printing. On the other hand, we tion to a more mature form of television
have begun to place considerable trust in interactivity. The viewer intensely staring
machines, otherwise, we would never at a TV screen, scanning a computer screen
entrust them our money. in search of instructions related to a pro-
Let us take these remarks into considera- gram and sending text messages at the
tion in the context of the remote control. same time to fully participate in the pro-
The media work in a similar way as human gram – it is not a vision of the future but a
senses, and the remote control is the bor- contemporary picture of the desired Polish
der checkpoint opening an avenue to the viewer. This picture is so very different
world of simulacra and prostheses. Media from the other ones discussed until recent-
users antropomorphize their appliances, ly that it requires an immediate description
they often adopt friendly attitude and treat and consideration, unless it is already too
them as family members. The question is, late.
does this extend to the devices which only Mark Andrejevic proposed a category of
initiate contact with the “proper” ap- “interpassivity” which would better de-
pliances, hence facilitating or even enabling scribe the existing situation (the name is a
further contacts. redefined original concept of Slavoj Žižek).

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Wieslaw Godzic: Various faces of interactivity: remarks on television

Andrejevic states that the media today ings. To follow this line of thinking: it all
convince people that “they do more, whe- boils down to the fact that these compli-
reas in fact they do even less”. The Oxygen cated actions (although perceived as quite
project pursued at the Massachusetts Insti- natural) can be performed with a palm-top
tute of Technology brought about one gadget. The question is, whether in the
more consequence. The intention behind context of the interaction between the
the project was to create an interface which television viewer and his television inter-
would be as invisible and as indispensable face we should still call it a gadget?
as air. That is why it is better to use the What is all this about? A device nearly as
term “interpassivity”, says the researcher old as a TV set (for US viewers), albeit it is
from Iowa; the intervention of the inter- much younger for Poles. It is an American
face is so minimal that its use becomes device rooted in American symbols re-
practically automatic. lated, among other things, to an innocent
It is said that Americans handed the inter- word “choice”. The remote control has
active television relay baton to the British. been an incarnation of the television free-
Indeed, a lot has been done - roughly a dom - the right to choose freely a program
million users experiments with hybrid and conditions of its presentation. But this
Internet-TV services AOLTV and MSN TV word means much more in the American
which have been created (albeit this num- culture: AT&T uses the slogan „the right
ber fails to satisfy both broadcasters and choice” in its advertisements, power sup-
advertisers). The early American experi- pliers are often referred to as “the power of
ments were ambitious but led to disap- choice”. A hungry American is in a dilem-
pointments. They included the Qube sys- ma over a bun with the slogan “there is no
tem (Warner Amex Cable Communica- better choice” offered by Wendy and
tions) in Columbus, Ohio, in the seventies, McDonald’s burger which is “the Ameri-
and the Full Service Network (Time ca’s choice”. Naturally, if you are thirsty
Warner in Orlando, Florida) in the mid- you know that Coke is “the real choice”,
nineties. The former system let viewers whereas „in copiers, the choice is Canon”.
vote during talk-shows. Thus, the choice is not just a decision but
In short the issue can be put this way: the an almost metaphysical experience of
time of living in the culture dominated by something “right” and solely correct. Addi-
image went by; the things moved forward, tionally, the choice has the “power”; it is
and we have become a pure image. We not only a common and natural thing to do
may speak of a triumph of a culture based but also necessity as it evidences the user’s
on total visual virtuality and absence of past cultural competence.
images full of coded and decoded mean-

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Wieslaw Godzic: Various faces of interactivity: remarks on television

The history of the device which gives us the - it will pause viewed programs and offer
choice in our television sets must take into simple recording;
account the fact that in 1992 98% of all - it will provide sophisticated channel
color TVs were remote-controlled [Benja- search (up to two weeks into the fu-
min, 1993]. The first remote controls in ture) for thematic choice;
the twenties and thirties of the twentieth
- recorded materials can be conveniently
century were used with radio receivers.
cataloged with instant access;
They were placed in the rooms which
family members visited most often. They - TiVo connected to the Internet permits
let them turn on the speaker and adjust recording from any location; connected
volume or tune to the favorite radio sta- to a home computer creates an en-
tion. In the mid-thirties the remote control hanced audio-visual mega-center.
was equipped with two simple buttons Moreover, the remote control has become
which switched back to the previous sta- a cultural icon: dozens of American movies
tion. Thus, one of the first controlling show games involving the device. One of
functions of the radio remote control (oth- the most favorite tricks of adolescents was
er than switching on and off) enabled an to switch channels on a neighbors’ TV set
escape from commercials. across the street, which required a suffi-
What can the remote control do today? It ciently powerful device. In Stay Tuned kids
is hard to say because it has been merged rescued their father, a TV maniac who was
with a home managing computer. There- sucked into the TV world. In this predica-
fore, it has become an intelligent “friend” ment losing or damaging the remote con-
designated to control most of home elec- trol became a matter of life and death (for-
tronics. All it takes is to place the remote tunately – only in the world of illusion,
in an infrared beam and, it will remember although US police records have seen cases
its signature. With data residing in memo- of domestic violence and even murders
ry, we can freely, even remotely program, caused by remote control deprivation).
register and execute operating schemes of Without the remote control we would not
electronic devices (the simplest example have seen a number of very valuable new
being “turn off the stereo when I turn on media films (e.g. Atom Egoyan, Peter
the TV”). Weir or Darren Aronofsky). Eventually,
let us notice that owners of a great majori-
What are the capabilities of TiVo – the
ty of contemporary receivers are complete-
prototype of intelligent television with
ly helpless without the remote control; in
hard-drive recording? According to an
the main, it is impossible to even tune to a
advertisement of this device:
station or to program the recorder.

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Wieslaw Godzic: Various faces of interactivity: remarks on television

Undoubtedly, the remote control is a pop- trol as a tool to create a “TV story” from
culture favorite gadget. Still, it is a subject fragments of the TV stream?
matter of various scientific research which, I believe that we can easily speak of the
generally, do not focus on the gadget itself “second generation of television viewers”
but on its use, the desires it invokes and the which evolved with a nexus to the devel-
needs it satisfies. It turns out that this small opment of this device. The popularization
electronic device has been honored by a of the remote control created a new me-
number of scientific conferences, at least thod of watching TV. There are the view-
two monographic papers and dozens of ers who take pleasure not only from the
serious scientific publications. The follo- content and form of the programs, but also
wing questions have been tackled: from the way they watch this medium.
- how do we learn to use the remote Thanks to the remote control the viewers
control and how does this device affect find pleasure in avoiding the unwanted TV
our social behavior? broadcasts (the separate question is,
- what kind of pleasures are achieved by whether the remote control has triggered
adult viewers while watching programs such needs or it is only an instrument to
with active use of the remote control? satisfy them). Flipping, zipping, zapping
are the common references to various
- is it a toy or a serious tool (of control
subtleties connected with actions aimed at
and active viewing behavior)?,
commercial evasion (in the main) by
- how does the remote control affect the switching to different channels. Viewers
ways children watch TV? are satisfied because they believe they get
- to what extent does the awareness of from television more than they would get
the use of the remote control by view- should they watch one channel only. Addi-
ers influence the strategies of TV busi- tionally, they may control the access of
ness and broadcasters? other family members to a program.
- is the use of certain remote functions Other scientists pondered how the TV
correlated with the user’s sex? viewer interacted with the device. They
decided that:
- what are the forms of TV program
control in the family in regard of sex - the viewer most often presses the but-
and social roles? (Bellamy, R., Jr., ton representing a particular channel,
Walker, J., 1996). or an up-arrow or down-arrow to visit
other channels;
I imagine that these subjects may go on:
what about domestic violence as a function
of remote control use or the remote con-

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Wieslaw Godzic: Various faces of interactivity: remarks on television

- then the viewer zaps using the “pre- the template and orientation of the remote
vious channel” button or uses the pic- control panel.
ture-in-picture function; As I hear this kind of information I am less
- the viewer may also scan the program- reluctant to believe that it will soon be
ming offer by slowly moving up or gone; the “intelligent remote” enters the
down the channels, or turn off the scene. A device which will recognize
voice (see: Benjamin, 1993). speech, thus saying “VOD on, dim lights”
EPG has become a key function, one which will be sufficient.
requires the remote control like no other. I do not know what such a remote control
It is an interesting subject of research for will look like. The only thing I know is that
culture scientists. The point is to find eth- few of us will control anything with it
nic particulars (if any) of navigating the because we are still unaware that it takes
Electronic Program Guide. The Finnish learning and that the situation needs a
media scientist Jääskeläinen [2001] con- creative and positive attitude. While others
ducted a number of focused polls which will enjoy being in control we (Poles with
concerned, as he defined it, six different anti-technological attitudes and many other
genres of interactive television: commer- groups) will stick to our good old homely
cials, computer games, “on demand” news choices: an up-arrow, a down-arrow. The
magazines, Electronic Program Guide, sophisticated pop culture which created the
remote learning and program information. television remote control craves for it in a
With respect to the Electronic Program particularly twisted way and cannot get on
Guide he concluded that the situation in without it. What is more, everything
Finland is not typical: the Fins imple- seems to indicate that the remote control
mented a uniform interface for the TV will not only become the primary icon of
viewer’s contact with the TV customer man’s medial contact with the world, but
service center. Therefore, any new opera- also a source of such a contact.
tor would need to adjust to the principles The remote control has a good chance to
defining such details of the interface as its become the most important device facili-
template, size, scope of information and tating (enabling?) access to the media in the
orders. This research raises intriguing era of convergence. The reasons seem
questions whether the layout of buttons on quite obvious:
the device has already been globalized or it
- media users will interact with the con-
can still accommodate national invariants?
tent to such an extent that we will be
The latter case is against the belief concern-
able to talk about complete culture of
ing the global nature of the functionality of

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Wieslaw Godzic: Various faces of interactivity: remarks on television

- the receiver will be in control of the It started with a comment by mikospa on

received content to a greater and great- October 21, 2004 on a www.gazeta.pl
er degree, the more so as it will com- forum, under an intriguing title “Bare your
prise materials recorded on various car- remotes”:
riers, which will only “pretend” to be “I propose to write in this thread the settings
presented “live”; of your remote controls. For example the first
- the remote control will help the viewer fifteen channels. I wonder who has what and
evade commercials - this is a stereotype where?
view because the device may as well Then we can summarize it (a task for the
draw the viewer’s attention to the GW editors) and create a “map” of Polish
commercials of particular interest. remote controls, while also analyzing favo-
All this leads to popularization of the view rite stations without looking at viewing
that in the era of “lifestyle media” – charac- polls. The more persons post their settings,
terized by domination of video content, the more credible will the result be, in statis-
active contact with other receivers and the tical terms. :-)
ability to receive broadcast at any time and Here is my list:
place – the remote control will become a 1. TVP1, 2. TVP2, 3. POLSAT, 4. TV4, 5.
less exciting, yet indispensable, tool. It will MTV, 6. MTV CLASSIC, 7. TVP3, 8. TVN,
become, if it is not already, a prosthesis, an 9. TVP POLONIA, 10. TVN24, 11. TVN7,
extension of not only our hands but also 12. ALE KINO, 13. EUROSPORT, 14.
eyes, brains and the whole “self”. EUROSPORT NEWS, 15. CNN.
I remember a serious discussion with one Does this list say something about me? :-)”.
of the Polish Television presidents in which
And there it started. The net surfers sub-
he declared his conviction that the “TVP 1”
mitted the configurations of channels pro-
brand of his station was indestructible. He
grammed into their remotes, and the fol-
claimed that TVP1 would always have the
lowing prevalent pattern emerged: the two
greatest audience because on most of the
state television programs went first (TVP1
Polish remote controls this program was
and TVP2), usually followed by Polsat and
coded under number one. I wished the
TVN. Note that for years this sequence
presidents had other arguments in support
reflected the share of these stations in the
of the quality offered by their stations, but
advertising market: the first program had
this statement is intriguing in itself. Is this
the greatest share, followed up by the
a fact indeed? And first of all, does it have
second program, etc.
any serious implications? Let us look at an
online discussion on a similar topic. This led to funny and very common situa-
tions, as probably each of us has this one

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Wieslaw Godzic: Various faces of interactivity: remarks on television

favorite and one notorious button on the only consolation. This provokes the ques-
remote. The discussion was interesting tion about how we treat television: isn’t it
because it raised serious questions about something too volatile, insignificant, some-
the use of the remote. Although we can thing that we are careless about? Do the
only consider this a merely initial study of programs leave us indifferent since we
the issue, rather than a justified opinion, it accept their loss so easily?
was worth starting. Especially as there is As much as 40% of European television
hard data regarding Poles’ attitude towards viewers (and even more, 50%, while con-
the media, and indirectly the remote con- sidering those before the age of 30) have no
trol. The data was produced, among other TV watching plans and decide on any result
things, by the European comparative stu- of flicking through the channels with use
dies conducted at the request of UPC (pub- (or abuse) of the remote control. The good
lished in the www.wirtualnemedia.pl por- news is that, globally, the majority of
tal, access January 20, 2007). people analyze programming and watch a
It transpires that the image of customs of particular audition rather than whatever is
Polish television viewers is very shady. For on.
example, the results relating to program Traditionally we learn what to watch from
recording are dismal: 65% of the viewers printed television magazines or the press in
in Poland do not do it, in Europe this per- general (total of 75% in Europe). But the
centage is even lower: 48% of the televi- Internet and EPG lurk round the corner: as
sion viewers. Even the younger generation much as 65% of the viewers before they
does not help the unfavorable statistics - are 30 years old obtain programming in-
still 55% of them do not record anything formation from these sources (this percen-
on any available carriers. tage can be overstated because it pertained
Almost half of the Europeans do not record to an Internet panel). Moreover, pro-
the programs which they cannot watch. It gramming directors sweat, whereas adver-
is probably bad. However, a glance at the tising experts rejoice to see that television
television-related behavior of the young viewers more and more often decide to
brings about some optimism – almost 60% watch a chosen TV program under the
of them do use recorders (including 21% influence of the television stream. It means
who use DVD and 19% who search the that a good trailer accompanying a show,
Internet for the missed programs). internal advertising and program content as
The fact that the penetration of the Inter- such make the viewer stay with the chan-
net in search of the missed TV programs is nel.
higher in Poland than in Europe (25% in Having read the above pages the reader no
Poland, 21% in Europe) seems to be the longer needs to take for granted that we

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Wieslaw Godzic: Various faces of interactivity: remarks on television

indeed face a new branch of interdiscipli- tion” viewer, with the remote control
nary human sciences research (references accommodating new methods of use.
to the mythical function of the remote We should not forget that the remote may
control are made several times, besides, play a key role in the new reality: no long-
there is a serious discourse regarding the er as a primitive gadget but as an intelligent
contribution of the research on the remote key to a sphere of unknown stimuli.
control to the phenomenology of percep-
tion). Yet, seriously speaking, we should
prepare for the forthcoming “third genera-

Conclusions: Coda: what kind of

interactivity do we need?
I am convinced that these results contri- “syntagmatic” – containing a little bit of
bute profoundly to our knowledge of the everything and sorted in a comprehensible
structure of television audience. They and acceptable order. This is what televi-
corroborate what is obvious, e.g. gender- sion used to be – a “stream of images from
driven reception and division into “male” our lives”. The former of the two groups,
and “female” genres. But they also uncover the one conforming to European customs,
new tendencies, such as the fact that the will probably visit so-defined valuable
Polish viewers under 30 years of age almost programs of public stations. But for them
do not depart in their receiving behavior television will amount to games and fun
from the European average. However, we with flicking channels, connecting to the
also have a fairly large and quickly growing Internet, recording and creating programs
group of elder viewers who are reluctant according to their own competence and
to surf the Internet, dislike interactive text whims.
message contacts with the screen and hard- The research illustrates that the Polish
ly ever record their favorite programs model of television and the use of it do not
(perhaps they do not even have such). adhere to the European templates. It does
It is high time to start thinking about two not mean that we must immediately adjust
models of television reception and accor- to this relatively uniform standard. How-
dingly adjusted two kinds of broadcast. The ever, it certainly means that we should
latter group particularly needs public very seriously discuss the model of the
television: more relaxed, mission-driven public television of tomorrow, teaching
(whatever this would mean) and first of all good practices at school, calming down the

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Wieslaw Godzic: Various faces of interactivity: remarks on television

race in which public stations try to chase Therefore, it will be necessary to seriously
the commercial ones. The interactivity in think over what is normal and ordinary.
both models will be obligatory, yet home- We have hard times ahead; watching TV
ly. The ability to control and the opportu- out of boredom by older and older au-
nity to make ceaseless choices will become diences may solidify hardly creative habits.
the day-to-day life of the television viewer. And for sure it would mean the end of the
television culture as we know it.

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Cita de este artículo

Godzic, W. (2010). Various faces of interactivity:
Remarks on television. Revista Icono14 [en línea] 15 de
Enero de 2010, Nº 15. pp. 22-36. Recuperado (Fecha de
acceso), de http://www.icono14.net

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