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Edited by Rowland Lorimer and Donald C. Wilson

Calgary, Detselig Enterprises, 1991. 106pp, paper, $19.95
ISBN 1-55059-016-2. Connect Canada series. CIP

Grades 6 to 9/Ages 11 to 14
Reviewed by Irene J. Karasick

Volume 19 Number 6
1991 November

In the introduction the authors state, "We will discover the prevalence of communications and communications technology in everyday life...." Further on in the introduction, the authors promise "to outline both the role and potential power of individuals in our communications system" and state that "The purpose of the studies is to help us understand how to make that system work for our own benefit and the general good of society."

The text identifies three major elements through which audiences influence how communications systems operate — cultural interests, business interests and technology. The text provides examples of how target audiences influence change in media communications. One example con­cerns the Vancouver radio station CFUN, which approached its clients and advertisers to discover which target audience the station wanted to reach. As a result of their research, the station discovered that, for the sake of business, they had to abandon the tastes of one audience to embrace another. How CFUN positioned itself for its new target audience is an interesting and informa­tive read.

Other examples include Inuit broadcasting and point to the dramatic effects television can have on traditional cultures, particularly of those living in remote communities. In remote north­ern areas the use of satellite technology circumvented atmospheric interference with radio and television signals to bring programming in as far north as Frobisher Bay [Iqaluit]. Although the purpose of the system was primarily to relieve the isolation on non-native northerners, the introduction of televi­sion brought significant changes — not always positive — to the Inuit. The authors point to another example of audience influence. Some of the Inuit began to demand access to the new technology in the hope of mitigating the detrimental aspects of television in the north and through their own programs began to provide reinforcement for their traditional culture.

The authors are to be commended for detailing many aspects of the origins of public broadcasting in Canada, its processes, changes and controls. However, in wishing to point out how political pressures influence funding "and the very survival of the CBC," what should have been straight factual information veers to editorializing.

In also explaining the current techno-communications devices and uses and how people influence communications, the authors have fulfilled the promise and purpose of the book. Young and older readers will get a good overview and widen their perspective of commu­nications in Canada.

The book is an attractive 81/2 x 11-inch paperback, has both black-and-white and colour illustrations, and each chapter concludes with a short graphic summary. There is a well-detailed table of contents, which does somewhat make up for the lack of an index.

Irene J. Karasick, Winnipeg, Man.
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