Rites of passage: The advertising trade press' framing of the diffusion of cable television

                         Brill, Dale Allen; PhD

                         THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE, 1996

                         MASS COMMUNICATIONS (0708); JOURNALISM (0391)

                         The purpose of this study was to examine the advertising industry's reaction to the introduction of a new
                         communications medium: cable television. Advertising Age was chosen as the trade industry publication
                         that would serve to gauge reaction to the medium and from which potential frames were delineated and
                         examined. Selective attention to different particular topics and themes constitute frames. The consumer
                         adoption cycle borrowed from the diffusion literature was used to demarcate time periods in which
                         advertising industry frames might emerge and shift. There were several findings. First, Advertising Age
                         discussed the impact of cable television in business terms rather than cultural terms, giving rise to a
                         commercial variation of futures rhetoric. Second, there was a statistically significant co-occurrence
                         between frames reflecting advertising industry concerns and consumer adoption cycles. Advertising
                         Age's preoccupation with Regulation issues occurred during the Innovator and Early Adopter stages of
                         diffusion of cable television, when there were few consumers using this new medium. However, the
                         emphasis in Advertising Age coverage shifted to Delivery issues in 1975, and this corresponded with
                         shifts in consumer usage of cable television as reflected in the Early and Late Majority stages of diffusion.
                         The use of the diffusion of innovation paradigm to trace an industry's reaction to the introduction and
                         eventual diffusion of a new communications medium has given rise to the idea that there may be a 'rite of
                         passage' that new media go through. This ritual, should it be documented to exist through careful
                         retrospective studies of the diffusion of other media, could serve as a useful tool for gauging how and
                         when an industry might itself adopt a new medium so that risks are minimized and advantages maximized.
                         The usefulness of frame and concept mapping to study industry reaction to a new medium also could be
                         extended to the arena of issues management. This methodology has the ability to handle very large
                         text-based data sets and can be used to systematize identification of issues and issue shifts important to
                         organizations as they seek to stabilize the social, political and economic environments in which they

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