TV FORMATS – “Real TV”

At the end of the 21st century, the radical changes in media sphere under the information revolution influence become obvious, large-scale and irreversible. The aim was to form a new paradigm of a society based on knowledge and a global economy (Chalaby 2010). In addition, these changes were caused by the introduction of information and communication technologies that have introduced a new, unknown information and communication environment, where the “common content and services” are designed for a person to operate in a single system. Theorists argue that a new type of person is born and it is referred to as homo informaticus (Chalaby 2010). The peculiarity of the information revolution is rampantly gaining momentum and penetrating all the foundations of human activity horizontally and vertically. Also, it affects the foundations of the world civilization, subjecting to review the considerable theoretical and practical experience accumulated over the centuries (Chalaby 2010). The ongoing restructuring has also profoundly affected all areas of the media, not only the technological platform of the media, which subjected to profound transformations. It also comprises spatial, economic, professional, and cultural spheres. It is known that the aggregate of these five fundamental vectors, assesses the extent to which modern civilization enters the information society. Hence, the ‘real TV’ format is one of the most promising ones since it is characterized by the demand (Watanabe 2016).

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“Real TV”: the Background

At the end of the 21st century, the word “real” received a new semantic coloration by rapidly developing digital technologies, which have penetrated into all spheres of human activity and turned the world into a global village, regardless of the location of the individual (Bazalgette 2005). Hence, the birth of the real TV format is referred to the end of the 20th century (Bazalgette 2005).

Being actively introduced in the social environment, mobile phones, computers, and the Internet “squeezed” time and space, and it allowed people on different continents to communicate without difficulty. Indisputable in this regard is the role of television, which is an important infrastructure for the production of screen culture, which provides a level of institutionalization of cultural flows. Hence, the “real TV” programs have much to do with the degree of expressiveness and force of influence on the masses; therefore, it is no accident that screen culture in the information society prevails (Moran 2006). The approach of the millennium, on the eve of which the birth of a ‘real TV’ program of a fundamentally new type, designated as real one , and it was accompanied by an acceleration of the growing social and economic processes, socio-cultural dynamics, indicative of the intensive growth of cultural globalization (Oren & Shahaf 2011).

Organizations and people on different continents were given the opportunity to exchange information, cultural ideas, and ideas about the life of other people with the help of new technologies. Such a combination of places and people, separated in time and space, is considered by scientists as a form of compression of time and space.

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At the early 20th century television was only on its early stages of development. Currently, the social and economic transformations are undergoing all over the world. It is accompanied by an intensification of processes that reflect the emergence of new infrastructures, types of interaction, institutionalization, and stratification (Bazalgette 2005). Bing based on these characteristics, the world community’s transition to a higher level of civilizational development is estimated. The television “picture” both before and now contributes to the acceleration of socio-cultural, economic processes. Entering into a new digital environment, television has every reason to become a powerful global infrastructure, and the replicated screen image largely stimulates the evolving evolutionary process (Bazalgette 2005). Obviously, in the digital era, the screen image is the most popular way of interaction among the masses, nations, and states reflecting the processes of cultural globalization, where imposing, competition, diffusion are manifested. This conclusion is confirmed by the authors of the book Global Transformations: Politics, Economics, Culture by Chalabi (2012), which directly points to the prevailing role of the media, primarily television, in cultural globalization. Also, the author states that the birth of the ‘reality TV’ originates from new TV communications and the emergence of international corporations that manage the media (Chalabi 2012).

In addition, there are other factors that gave rise to global cultural flows, namely scope, intensity, diversity and rapid spread that have surpassed everything that happened before. It is noted that the central position of national cultures, national identities and their institutions is challenged, which comes from the production of mass cultures, the diffuse and ambiguous cultural field of consumerism, and materialism. In connection with it, the author questions the quality and priorities of the content, ideological and semantic concepts of the “real TV” shows distributed by modern television, and the extent to which these images correlate with the challenges of the time. This problem appears as actual one, requiring theoretical comprehension.

It should be noted that this type of TV programs could not have arisen at the earlier stages of the formation and improvement of television as a multisyllabic system, since its corresponding technical and technological platform was not formed, and approaches to television creativity and television genres were only being formed (Moran 2009). The necessary needs and prerequisites have not yet been formed. In previous years, television with its analogue platform, although developing very intensively, was mainly moving along the lines of national and ideological priorities and national coverage of the mass audience, since at the stage of the formation of analog television, not even the idea of ​​a television technological platform in the form of a global TV model broadcasting (Oren & Shahaf 2011).  The staging of such a problem begins to gradually manifest itself from the 1970s, when computer technologies, which have influenced broadcasting technologies, are also gaining momentum for intensive development around the world (Oren & Shahaf 2011). At the same time, the temporal and cultural-historical horizon plays a priority role. Hence, the international trajectory of “reality TV” appeared with the development of the TV all over the world starting from the USA. This fact determines the cultural variations of the ‘real TV’ in various countries. For instance, even the remakes of the US TV reality shows in different countries preserve the same idea, but they are characterized and filled with the particular nation’s nature and ideas.

“Real TV” Format: Key Points

No less important and significant is the problem of the emergence in the television environment of a fundamentally new genre of reality shows, “real TV” or “reality TV”. It arose on the eve of the third millennium and instantly integrated into virtually all national television industries. This is a format of television product wherein the actors are simple far from television creativity citizens. It continues to “march” around the planet, firmly established and in the virtual Internet space. There is a deep penetration of the reality show into the information environment. Resonance, caused by its appearance in the professional and social environment of many countries, is extremely ambiguous that allows to consider this product as a phenomenon of television creativity (Chalaby 2010).

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The uniqueness of this phenomenon significantly increases. The system of genres, as it applies specifically to journalism, can serve as a kind of indicator of the era. The problem considered in the thesis is inextricably linked with the notion of the information space, where images of the reality show are currently “living” and “multiplying”, actively influencing society and forming a certain socio-cultural environment. The information space of the “real TV” format is a synthesis of a certain mass of information messages / products, wherein each one has its own individual characteristics and attributes that affects the general context of the content. Thusly, there is a phenomenon, when a lot of independent information units-products, including images of the reality show, which possess identification features, form a single whole having individualized quantitative and qualitative indicators. They include its volume, content and axiological basis, a vector of information orientation, goal-setting, and, finally, its categorical essence.

The appearance of the television program Big Brother and the new concept of “real TV”, launched into public use, have become not only the embodiment of scientific and technological progress, primarily in the field of TV broadcasting (Wells 2015). To some extent, these “real TV” programs were the embodiment of the ripened social needs reflected in those socio-cultural phenomena that manifested themselves in the general heightened interest in other ethnoses, nationalities, and a different culture of being, which was caused by the intensified migration processes. It largely predetermined the rapid recognition of a television audience of this type by a mass audience at the first stage (Bazalgette 2005). Actually, at the present digital stage, the basic idea of the functioning of “real TV” is reduced to intercultural interaction and recognition of similar everyday cultural skills among civilizations that have different world outlooks of beings. In this regard, it is important to note two factors that contributed to the rapid recognition in society of the “real TV” programs (Bazalgette 2005). Firstly, the program Big Brother, which appeared in 1999, was based on an exploratory principle  aimed at determining the essence of a person, his/her inner self, and his/her behavioral norms in various situations (Sarapin and Sparks 2014). It allowed to fix the worldview of our contemporary, as well as his state and degree of readiness of the masses to perceive the new (Oren & Shahaf 2011). Secondly, on the basis of the concept of “real TV”, there arose a certain image of a mass society with its collective self-awareness and attitude to the culture of beings, and generally accepted norms and values ​​of life, which made it possible to talk about a projection of social development. As for the cultural variations, it is possible to note that the Big Brother TV show has obtained numerous versions all over the world, particularly, Canadian, Australian, Dutch, German and British. All of them are united by the general core idea; however, they are different from the point of view of the contents and meaning. The latter is attached the nature of the national character of a particular country, wherein it is shot. For instance, the German version depicts and mocks purely German features of national character such as love to drink beer. The British version depicts the way British people live: they portray and mock the numerous British traditions and compare them to the countries wherein there are no such customs.

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The duration of the program, which appeared in the form of an impromptu dramatization, as the script was ‘written’ by its heroes, was designed for 100 days, which became an innovation in television and public practice. The typology of the new program and its format were defined as reality TV. In contrast to the theatrical performances of the previous years, nine ordinary and unremarkable people, 4 men and 5 women, participated in the action. People had to live together in a specially equipped isolated house for a time stipulated by the TV program leading a communal economy. They were under the close supervision of television cameras, both visible and hidden, as determined by the concept of the program (Haq and Rahman 2015). The cameras were installed:, two of them had infrared radiation, which made it possible to shoot at night. Volunteers of this TV search were warned about 24-hour shooting (Zhang and Chen 2017). It was agreed that on the TV screen the program will be broadcast in assembled form on the basis of the selected scenes three times – 18.00; 20.00; 22.20 (Chalaby 2010). Thus, the term “real TV”, which was put into circulation, created a feeling of belonging not only to the television event, but also to life as it is, and the unusual concept of the program strengthened this effect forming a triple bond by indirectly “forcing” the public to concentrate on what is happening on the screen. It should be noted that the creators of the TV program have formed not only an exceptionally new principle of professional approach to the television story, but also an absolutely new form of its implementation (Moran 2006). Firstly, the acting characters on the screen “stage” were not celebrities but citizens who are unremarkable from the point of view of personal potential, representing the majority of which the nation consists.

The innovative principle was also applied: it was possible to identify and generalize the individual signs of “people from the crowd”, recognized through the prism of being-in-itself due to special conditions created by television, when the subjects are not affected by external reflexivity (Oren & Shahaf 2011). It was also possible to identify the immanent essence of the typological characters formed by typological characters, the degree of their cohesion, which also looked at the research focus of the first television program of real television.

Strengths and Weaknesses of “Real TV”

Comparing to other TV formats, there is a great strength of the real TV. To begin with, the semantic content of “reality TV” is extremely large for social development and essential for the functioning of the media (Moran 2009). The problem posed is connected with the convergence processes that transform the media market (Raisborough 2014). Therein, the main factor is the different forms and genres of media content based on the similarity of the subject matter of the information product. When the ideological and semantic categories of a certain product multiply, they turn into the “real TV” and the declared topic begins to dominate. It is also one of the important aspects for analyzing the problem and determining the significance of the images and meanings of “reality TV” programs of reality shows (Grindstaff and Murray 2015). They are introduced into public practice.


Another strong point of the “real TV” is the introduction of a global model of a digital multifunctional interactive TV system that facilitates the rapid promotion of images of reality shows in the global information space (Moran 2006). The important aspects for the analysis of the problem and the determination of the significance of the images and meanings of TV programs of reality shows have been introduced into public practice (Haq and Rahman 2015). Equally significant is the introduction of a global model of a digital multifunctional interactive TV system that facilitates the rapid promotion of images of reality shows in the global information space (Moran 2006).

With the advent of digital technologies there are lots of changes in social reality, and the term “global village” ceases to bear the signs of metaphor and begins to be understood as an objective reality. Thus, the birth of “real TV” became possible only at the stage of maturity of television as a means of mass communication, when the transition to the digital information and communication environment began and when the masses had a real need for deeper recognition of the image of people from other countries and other crops (Chalaby 2010). By 1999, there had been a number of characteristic trends that indicated changes in the media market, primarily the western one, which helped to create a special socio-cultural background (Oren & Shahaf 2011). In society, on the one hand, there was a massive excitement associated with the transition to the new millennium. On the other hand, there were successful results of scientific and technological discoveries, including in the digital technological platform of TV broadcasting and the process of formation of global cultural markets where the mass media, especially television, got one of the priority roles. Companies that work with the media environment, such as computer and software equipment, telecommunications, TV companies and other types of media, are beginning to converge, joining alliances to digitally transmit information – music, visual and audiovisual images (Fogel and Krausz 2013). The global model multiprogramming digital interactive “real TV” system has been developed by the international community, including a single standard high-definition television (Parmentier and Fischer 2015). In connection with the idea of ​​mass communication in real time, realized through television, it could not fail to excite the consciousness of the masses and creative consciousness creators of screen production (Moran 2006).

One can be found in accordance with the evolutionary structure of the world, it is logical to assume that the new type of programs labeled “reality TV” was designed to strengthen and/or develop the integrative function of this mass communication medium Moreover, it brought television to a new functional level, wherein its envoy task was to promote the ideas of social and cultural globalization, facilitating the intensification of cultural flows. Hence, the “real TV” format obtained the spread of cultural phenomena (Moran 2009). With constant operation, the “real TV” format has a significant impact on the mass audience, and it can, undoubtedly, form a sufficiently intensive cultural exchange and promote the development of close cultural ties among people (Sung 2013).

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Therefore, before investigating the typology and features of this type of programs, firstly, it is necessary to define the term “real TV”. The word real” has several meanings, the first one is existence,, in fact, real, not imaginary one and, second one is  feasible based on understanding, considering the true conditions of reality (Oren & Shahaf 2011). Emotional coloring in each of the lexical units is reduced, day to day business (Opree and Kühne 2016). It cannot be said about the phrase real TV, where, incidentally, there is a certain contradiction that causes an ambivalent attitude to this concept. The positive sense of renewal is contrasted with the established purpose of television, which throughout its historical experience has constantly sought in its various screen forms to reflect the reality of people and the world around them (Oren & Shahaf 2011). As a result, there is a paradox that is leveled, if one operates on information about scientific and technological progress in the field of TV broadcasting at the end of the 20th century (Yu 2014). It is the new broadcast technologies, which are capable of broadcasting multi-color audiovisual images in the format of high-definition television, in addition, they allow to feel almost the true reality of the television “picture”. It is fascinating as it creates the effect of co-participation and co-presence.

Conclusion

To sum up, “real TV” was finally transformed into a reality show, which was accompanied by all the signs of this entertaining genre. It is no coincidence that the term “real TV” exists only in the western typology of genres. Signs of the show more precisely embody this type of television programs, because modern television in Western countries prefers to develop entertainment content, and therefore, brings to the extreme “point” elements of entertainment. The emergence of real TV programs is a natural phenomenon associated with scientific and technological progress, especially in the field of digital television, which also reflected the process of creative search in the screen culture that resulted in the birth of a new television genre. The emergence of the “real TV” programs of a new type is due to sociocultural changes throughout the world, which characterize the growing processes of cultural globalization and testify the transition of television as a system to the stage of maturity. Modern television, which has digital properties such as ubiquity, interactivity and convergence, should be seen as one of the main driving forces of cultural globalization reflected in the widespread distribution of new type of programs, i.e. “real TV”.

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