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Noviembre-diciembre 2021, vol. 30, no. 6
Democracia / Democracy

Opinion of television managers about their viewers and their interest in science: audience images and lack of scientific content on television

María T. Soto-Sanfiel; Isabel Villegas-Simón; Ariadna Angulo-Brunet

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Abstract: Science does not occupy a prominent place on Spanish television, possibly due to those in charge of the creation, production, organization, and programming of content. Previous research has shown that television executives have mental images of their audiences that they actively use in their professional practice. This study adopts a mixed, qualitative-quantitative method to determine the beliefs of Spanish television executives regarding the attitudes of their audiences toward scientific programs and content. The study began with two focus groups, each made up of five professionals, to identify a wide range of attitudes. A Likert-scale questionnaire was then applied to examine the level of agreement with those attitudes among 450 employees of different types of private and public networks from six different regions of Spain. The main findings are that Spanish television managers do not believe that their viewers enjoy scientific topics or have any interest in them. However, professionals with previous experience of the production of scientific content tend to have a slightly more positive attitude about the opinion of general audiences regarding televised science. Hence, familiarity with televised science positively impacts the appreciation of such content on television. This research highlights the fundamental role of network managers in explaining the lack of science on Spanish media. Its results are coherent with previous studies confirming that TV professionals have preconceived images about their audiences that are derived from their own preferences and that guide their decisions.

Keywords: Audiences; Science communication; Science contents; Science television; General audiences; Spanish television audiences; Attitudes towards science; Audience images; Television professionals; General television; Spanish television; Producers; Directors; Programmers.