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TV chases youth market

From the website From Wireless To Web.
Video clip synopsis – Youth has become a new target audience for television programmers.
Year of production - 2005
Duration - 1min 20sec
Tags - audiences, consumers, culture, media production, popular culture, television, television programs, youth, see all tags


TV chases youth market

For copyright reasons this clip is not available as a download.

About the Video Clip


The video clip Totally Wild is from the TV series Totally Wild and is used courtesy of Network Ten.

Liz Jacka is an Author and Professor in Communications Studies for the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences at the University of Technology Sydney. You can view her full biography at From Wireless to Web.

The website is a selective history of broadcast media in Australia. Decade by decade, from radio and newsreels to TV and the internet, this history shows how the Australian broadcast media developed and shaped the way Australians see themselves.

From Wireless to Web is a Film Australia production in association with Roar Film.

Curriculum Focus


Students will learn:

  • that audience demographics and ratings influence the development of youth-oriented television programming
  • to analyse and critique an example of youth television (Totally Wild)
  • to create a poster display, with written commentary, of a youth program
  • to draft, edit and proofread a creative work of fiction based on television programming for the youth market.

Ways of Working

Year 9
Students will be provided with the opportunity to:

  • identify events, issues, concepts and contexts in texts, and analyse how individuals and groups of people are represented
  • imagine, design and create characters, worlds and events
  • appreciate, analyse and make judgments about texts based on an evaluation of their own and others’ use of language, opinions and perspectives
  • collaborate, confer, consult and negotiate with others to revise, redraft, edit, publish and present texts
  • when interpreting and creating texts, reflect on the language choices made to invite readers to adopt particular opinions of people, characters, places, events, ideas and information

Knowing and understanding

Year 9
Students will have the opportunity to show that they know and understand that:

  • functional texts (e.g. documentaries) are used to analyse and evaluate, advance opinions, justify positions and make judgments in order to persuade, draw conclusions or consider possible consequences of interpretations
  • knowledge, values, practices and assumptions about groups influence and are influenced by audience positioning and representations in texts
  • ideas and information are selected and organized according to text type, purpose, audience, mode and medium, and the values, beliefs and attitudes of creators of texts
  • technical, concrete, abstract and emotive vocabulary is selected and used to argue, persuade and convey information.
  • authority, interpersonal distance and feelings/attitudes influence language choices when interpreting and constructing texts
  • variations in pace, pitch, phrasing, intonation, facial expression, gesture, sound and the use of silence influence audiences
  • visual, nonverbal, spoken and auditory language are combined to position audiences
  • comprehension is enhanced by inferring meanings not directly stated, identifying cause and effect and making links to other texts
  • emotive, evocative, formal and informal language create tone, mood and atmosphere
  • dialogue develops relationships between characters and furthers narrative

This is an extract only. Teachers and students should consult Queensland Curriculum: Learning, Teaching and Assessment for updated curriculum information

Background Information


During the 1990s Network Ten took a strategic decision to capture the 16 to 39 year olds because they were regarded as an ‘emerging lucrative demographic’ – in other words, because today’s young people would be the spenders of tomorrow.

Since declaring their bid for the youth of the nation, Ten has pumped out a string of high-rating locally produced programs targeting young people and ‘adultescents’ including Rove Live, Good News Week, X-Factor, Popstars, Secret Life of Us, White Collar Blue, Australian Idol, Neighbours, SkitHouse and Big Brother, as well as screening imported programs with youth appeal like Everybody Loves Raymond, The Simpsons, Charmed and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.

Ten’s aggressive youth-oriented strategy paid off. In 2000 Network Ten was the lowest-rating commercial network overall but the most profitable, and since then Ten has achieved the highest ratings among under 40s groups for three consecutive years.

Good News Week (GNW) – a news and current affairs game show developed by the ABC – shifted to Ten in 1999. The program was extended from 30 to 90 minutes, with extra games, live music and guest appearances by Flacco and the Sandman. Speaking of youth audiences and GNW’s transition from ABC to Ten, GNW celebrity contestant Julie McCrossin said, “Channel 10’s audience is predominantly under 30 and from a less educated and diverse socio-economic background. With really young audiences if you mention the word Whitlam they think you are referring to a band. They don’t know about World Wars 1 and 2, so your cultural, historical and political reference points, out of which you may bounce a remark or comment from the news, are reduced. It wasn’t a question of dumbing down, it was a question of playing to the audience we had.” (Cunningham & Turner)

Classroom Activities

  1. Getting started
    In class view the interview clip with Liz Jacka about Channel Ten’s ‘younger demographic’, and the clip from Totally Wild, then discuss and make notes on the following:
    1. Liz Jacka is presented as someone who is trustworthy and an expert. How is she filmed to create this impression? What difference would it have made to your view of her as an expert if she had been presented differently, e.g. as a clown costume and was standing in front of a roller coaster? Why?
    2. Define the term ‘demographic’. Why is this concept important for television stations?
    3. Which programs do you enjoy watching most on television, and why? Do they fit into the type of demographic Liz Jacka talks about?
  2. Writing about the Totally Wild clip
    View the Totally Wild clip carefully. As you can see, it presents only the opening titles to the program, and is made up of graphics, or visual effects, movement, music and other sounds.
    Examining the graphics, movement and sound, write a description in about 100 words of what you think the clip tells us about the rest of Totally Wild, the content it might include, and the viewing audience it is aiming at. For example, is it designed to attract older adults or not? How can you tell? You should back up your comments with evidence from the clip.
  3. Producing a poster display
    In pairs, plan and produce a poster display about your favourite TV program either for teenagers, or for your age group. Include in your presentation:
    1. whether it’s Australian or not.
    2. whether aimed mainly at males or females.
    3. how it differs from other programs for the same age group.
    4. the time screened.
    5. whether screened on commercial TV or not — if so, include a listing of advertisements shown, and the “demographic” they are aimed at.
    6. how the (pre)teens are presented, provide evidence.
    7. what you believe are the main ‘lessons’ for teenagers (and others) which the show seems to promote.
  4. Writing and speaking – choose one of the options below
    1. Draft, edit and proofread a short story revealing the ‘real’ drama that occurs behind the scenes of a youth-oriented television series. Make your main character one of the actors, a camera-person, make-up artist, director, scriptwriter or even a caterer.
    2. Create a new idea for a television series (drama, reality, comedy, music etc) which will appeal to teenagers or pre-teens. Prepare to sell your idea to television studio executives who will provide the funding for the series; remember to use really persuasive language. You will need to tell them: the genre for the series; what the show is about (characters, setting, plot lines etc); who the demographic for the show is and what products, therefore, will you be able to advertise; why the show will appeal to that demographic. Once you know what you will say, rehearse your speech and present it your class. Vote on the best idea.

Further Resources


Go to From Wireless to Web for more about the history of broadcast media in Australia.

Go to Totally Wild

Go to Jason Harty, Pay TV works hard to attract young viewers, B&T, 11 March 2002

Go to Sharon Beder, Marketing to Children, A Community View, Caring for Children in the Media Age, Papers from a national conference, edited by John Squires and Tracy Newlands, New College Institute for Values Research, Sydney, 1998, pp. 101–111.

Read Media new ways and meanings 3rd Ed. by Colin Stewart and Adam Kowaltzke. Jacaranda, Milton, QLD, 2008. Go to a sample of chapters online at Jacaranda Books