Monday, July 15

Center Delivers Talk on Rhetoric, Television Ratings, and Freedom of Expression at the University of Delaware


Dr. Kevin Johnson travelled to the University of Delaware to present a research talk about the relationship between television ratings, rhetoric, and the freedom of expression. Speaking to students in the Department of Communication, Dr. Johnson explained the tensions inherent in the freedom of expression and the desire to maximize television ratings. Television ratings pose an interesting constraint on the freedom of expression in broadcasting. Television ratings involve a high degree of strategic thinking about what types of content may achieve the “best” television ratings. When types of content are considered in such a context of rhetorically strategizing about types of programming, a tension often emerges between types of content that maximize ratings and the free expression of certain types of content. Still, at other times, freedom of expression is harmonious with maximizing television ratings—functioning as the inherent condition of television ratings. Dr. Johnson drew upon the example of NFL ratings to speak about such tensions in the rhetorical considerations of broadcasters, programmers, viewers, shareholders, and public interests.