Closed Texts and Passive Masses - An Examination of the Television Host as ‘Re-encoder’
Abstract: Semiotic analysis of ‘encoding/decoding’ processes can reveal the television host as a mediator/intermediary, who “re-encodes” meaning in the flow of information. This paper intends to show that ‘re-encoding’ by the television host renders the audience aware of preferred readings which in turn functions to hermeneutically close the text. The host renders a text closed through denying ‘aberrant decoding’ by the audience – interpretation has restrictions through the host making aware the preferred reading originally encoded. The television host as intermediary restricts audience choice which I hope to demonstrate through two case studies – an interview with television host, Fred ‘Fearless’ Kennedy and a second interview with television producer, Jonas Bell-Pasht.* When choice is restricted at the semiotic level through the presence of the host, television experience can render the audience a passive mass much in the way that Arnheim fears at the medium’s birth in the 1930s.