'But this time You Choose!' Approaching the interactive audience of reality TV

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The concept of ‘interactivity’ has gained increasing currency in relation to television. At the level of programming, at least, this has been made visible with the phenomenal rise of reality TV. Phrases such as ‘You decide!’ (Big Brother), ‘But this time you choose!’ (Pop Idol) and ‘If you want to have your say’ (The Salon) proliferate in contemporary television, articulating a rhetoric that insists pressingly upon a ‘new’ participatory relationship between viewer and screen. The aim of this article is to consider the political implications of this shift for existing approaches to audience-text relations in television and cultural studies. This involves a consideration of a number of broader issues which currently raise questions for the study of television and its audience, particularly the increasing criticisms made of the active/resistant audience paradigm, the relationship between television and the internet, and the status of the televisual ‘text’ in a proliferating intertextual field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-231
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Cultural Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2004


  • cultural convergence
  • empowerment
  • fandom
  • forum
  • interaction
  • internet
  • intertextuality
  • real
  • The Salon
  • viewer/user

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