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The Globalization Reader, 5th Edition by John Boli, Frank J. Lechner

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49 Watching Big Brother at WorkA Production Study of Big Brother Australia

Jane Roscoe

This chapter details a production study of Big Brother Australia. In doing so, it provides a case study of an innovative multi-platform media event. It is an example of a format that delivers its content across television, the Internet, telephony, print media and radio, in addition to the live events on site at the theme park, Dreamworld, where the Big Brother house is situated. It also provides an opportunity to examine the indigenisation of an international ‘reality TV' format. It also draws on interviews with many of the key creative personnel, textual analyses, as well as on an audience survey conducted on the Big Brother 2 website. Key issues concerning the development of the format, interactivity and media convergence are analysed and explored. It is also an attempt to move beyond the very tired and simplistic readings of ‘reality TV' that seek to position it as evidence of television's ‘dumbing down' or as an example of the democratisation of media. Both positions fail to consider the more interesting questions of how these programmes have changed contemporary broadcasting practices, the complexity of the productions and the innovative relationships constructed between the producers, texts and audiences. This chapter thus takes as its starting point the notion that these programmes are not cheap and dumb, but rather they are complex productions that speak to a media-savvy audience ...

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