Images of Race and Gender in Advertising: Is “A-La-Carte

Date: January 1, 1970
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The proliferation of specialized/niche television markets broadens the number of venues for group representation, but narrows the focus of any given station. The literature has not yet explored the degree to which television advertising mirrors this effect or its possible implications. Additionally, the recent discussion of “a la cartÀ cable television options has niche stations debating the potential impact of increasingly selective viewing. Minority targeted stations are doubly-concerned about not only the potential of losing valuable audience and resources, but also the potential loss of a positive minority presence in the overall media landscape. This concern assumes that niche stations matter and that they influence the way that minority groups are presented. This article analyzes the impact of niche markets on minority representations by reporting on a content analysis of television commercials (n = 434) aired during prime-time on both the general networks and an African American niche market (BET) in 2002. In-group/out-group representations are explored in relation to depictions of agency and domestic/romantic fulfillment. The findings reveal that although the majority of characters were white males, the niche market did provide a venue for alternative minority representations. Specifically, characters in the African American niche were more likely to be portrayed as respected and as sex-objects. Although the niche market represents a venue for minority voices, it also has the potential for negative ramifications suggesting that the loss of these niche outlets could have a complicated impact on the number and quality of images of minorities in the media.

Publisher: Cable Television Packaging Negative for Minorities?" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, Montreal Convention Center, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Aug 11, 2006
Year of Publication: 2006

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