Forceville, Charles (2008). “Bumper stories: the framing of commercial blocks on Dutch public television.”

“Bumper stories: the framing of commercial blocks on Dutch public television.” In: Jaap Kooijman, Patricia Pisters, and Wanda Strauven (eds), Mind the Screen: Media Concepts According to Thomas Elsaesser, 229-241. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Abstract: In “Reclame: markt en betekenis,” Thomas Elsaesser (2000) sketches the pervasiveness and impact of advertising on daily life. He argues that audiences willingly and knowingly surrender to its promise of identity-building novelty and exoticness, resting assured that in the last resort advertising is a flattering mirror. He also reminds us that, particularly on commercial TV, advertising is the tail that wags the dog called “Programmes” by paying the bills. Although media-literate audiences may believe themselves immune to commercials’ persuasive force, Dutch law finds it necessary to warn TV-watchers when they are going to see a series of commercials, and when they exit one. The prototypical warning, deployed both on public and commercial channels, is the “bumper”: an audiologo that brackets a commercial block. In this chapter I substantiate the thesis that in the course of its history on Dutch public television, bumpers have become systematically less distinctive both visually and aurally, and as a consequence have lost much of their function of patrolling the borders between commercial and non-commercial programming.

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