P.O.V. No.23 - Danish TV Commercials and Advertising Films

The sound of children's television
- or why it makes sense to watch television facing away from the screen

Stine Liv Johansen and Nicolai Jørgensgaard Graakjær

The purpose of this article is to examine auditory phenomena in a series of programmes aimed at children.[1] First, we will analyze the series of programmes and then we will discuss the importance of sound in the ways small children use television, based on empirical studies of small children's actual use of television. Finally, we will point to the need for further studies on this topic, given that directly relevant research seems rather scanty and scattered, and the present examination deals with an as yet undeveloped research field with considerable potential. With these circumstances in mind, we intend to present and discuss the importance of sound for the ways small children use television, and thus to identify key areas for further investigation.

In general, it may be said that while an impressive number of studies of children's programmes and the ways children use television have been conducted (especially concerning certain types of content (violence) and genres (commercials); cf. Simpson 2004 and Jørgensen 1992), auditory phenomena have been examined somewhat superficially. Moreover, few studies of television reception have involved small children (Barr & Hayne 1999). This lack of research interest is probably due to two related circumstances. Firstly, it probably has to do with the methodological difficulties of conducting research on the ways small children use media and on the role played by auditory phenomena. For instance, there is no clear convention for representing, verbalizing and reporting on sound, and this applies in particular to the quality of the sound (or the 'sound of the sound'; cf. e.g. timbre, density and intensity).[2] In addition to this comes the fact that auditory attention is less obvious for observation compared with visual attention. Secondly, it probably has to do with a theoretical neglect of the importance of the involved phenomena: a general reluctance to consider the ways small children use media to be important, and a widespread failure to appreciate, for example, the appealing and signifying potentials of sound. This kind of neglect is implied in the following statement by a researcher whose work is related to the focus of the present article: "Both 1- and 2-year-old children are captured by unusual and exciting pictures on the screen. But not until the age of 2½ - 3 years should we expect small children to view television more systematically" (Hake 1998:37). It is our hypothesis that small children's 'unsystematic' use of media is also important and that the attention of small children is also captured by phenomena other than "unusual and exciting pictures."

The analytical endeavor of the present article is based on a premise supported by observations of the ways small children use media (Johansen 2005): that small children are exploratory in their social activities (a premise inspired by the Finnish researcher Harriet Strandell's accounts of children's behavior in day-care centers (Strandell 1994)). For example, it shows that a small child will typically not sit in front of the television for long periods of time, but will instead engage in a wide range of activities while the television is on (play with toys, other persons, etc.). Another premise of this article is that auditory phenomena have an important role to play in this context. The small child is of course not able to shut its ears, and sound continues to anchor the child to the television even though it looks away or even enters another room. The article also shows that television programmes and films can function as a sort of soundtrack for the small child's other activities.[3]

Presentation of the material
The series of programmes we will analyze were shown on TV 2.[4] This sample represents a wide spectrum of types of programmes and it offers the possibility of examining the relationships between them. Not least the commercial aspect (the presence of television commercials) seems to raise interesting questions, which among other things has to do with children's ability to distinguish between different genres and types of programmes (discussed further below). The series of programmes represents a period of time between 5:55 and 7:00 a.m., 19 January 2006, and the programmes listed are Martin & Ketil - the World for Beginners and two cartoons.[5] This particular series of programmes was chosen because it represents the most popular children's shows offered by TV 2 on weekdays, and because it has been broadcast for a relatively long period of time (since 2004).[6]

In the following presentation of the programmes, we are inspired by Williams's identification of different kinds of flow (1974/2003: 97ff), three types of which will be identified, ranging from the general to the specific. The first represents the flow of programmes listed by TV 2; the second, all the demarcated types of programmes that actually occur (listed or not); and the third, the detailed flow of visual and auditory expressions between and within each type of programme. These three perspectives identify different properties of the temporal flow of television, and by means of these perspectives the analysis is able to demonstrate connections and breaks between programmes as well as specific elements of the programmes.

In a somewhat different perspective, our primary analytical interest is, then, the kind of flow that is imposed on viewers (a so-called channel sub-flow; cf. Jensen 1994), and to a lesser extent, the kind of flow viewers themselves construct (the so-called viewer sub-flow).[7] An overview of the programmes shows that three are listed at the most general level of flow specificity, while thirty-five actually occur without being listed (identifiable at the second level of flow specificity) - including fourteen commercials and nine teasers.[8] The three programmes take up about 71% of the total time whereas the unlisted programmes take up about 29% of it.[9] In the following we will present the different types of programmes involved.

The listed programmes
The programme Martin & Ketil - the World for Beginners, which forms the background for the whole series of programmes, is a hosted series of episodes based on the adventures of the key characters, Martin and Ketil. Martin and Ketil have set out on a journey in a spacecraft from which they observe the Earth. During their journey they fight extraterrestrials and face more mundane challenges like the issue of who should control the spacecraft and whether the little robot helper, Arto, is lying about the codes for the electrical equipment.

In each programme one of the hosts is "beamed" down to earth, where he visits a location of interest and reports back to his co-host in the spacecraft. Some of the locations that have been visited are a farm, a cartoon studio, the seat of the Danish parliament, and, on this particular day, the Royal Danish Theatre. Some of the episodes have a humorous slant, but the main point of the visits is educational, often with a strong normative and moral inclination in relation to, for example, democracy, children's rights or ecology. In addition to the trips to Earth, each programme consists of a number of short recurrent elements such as the telling of lies, the transformation of objects through a "converter," and conflicts between the key figures, which always result in them dramatically averting a devastating crash.

The programme is thus characterized by a whole series of recurrent themes and short, almost identical items that have no particular mutual connection from one episode to the next (apart from representing the doings of Martin and Ketil), and in this way the programme bears the stamp of a montage style. On this particular day the programme appears twice with a cartoon in between, and, typical of the montage style involved, the details of the two versions are differently structured without this interfering with the overall meaning.

The cartoon in between the two versions of Martin & Ketilis called Duck Dodgers, which also represents a series of episodes. The cartoon is about Daffy Duck as Duck Dodgers and Porky Pig as Cadet, and their missions in outer space; and as it happens there is a thematic coincidence between the cartoon and Martin & Ketil.[10] The cartoon involves supernatural elements such as magic and aliens. Two episodes are broadcast in the slot, each with complete storylines.

The unlisted programmes
As mentioned above, about 29% of the time is taken up by unlisted programmes. Due to the particularity of the programmes chosen (to be investigated further below) and the few studies available on unlisted programmes - or 'non-programmes' - it is difficult to further qualify this percentage. But if we turn to one of the few researchers who has actually examined non-programmes in greater detail, it could be argued that there is a tendency towards television flow being increasingly dominated by "…bits of information that makes promises for more to come" and that generally "…we are dealing with more and more self reference within the range of programs" (Stigel 2004: 29).[11] This tendency is related to the increased number of channels available, which serves as an incentive for each channel to take measures to attract and keep viewers' attention. And to this end 'promos' are of great importance - that is, commercials that refer internally to the channel and/or the programmes it provides viewers.

The following types of programme occur: bumpers (short, announcing lead-ins and lead-outs enclosing a programme), teasers (a longer presentation of a programme to come in the near future, but not immediately following the teaser) and a listing (in the material analyzed they are in the form of a still shot of a list of programmes to be shown that particular morning; in other words, it represents the most general level of flow, as mentioned above). In addition, a filler appears (a type of programme not intended to be shown, but used to avoid unforeseen 'gaps' in the flow). This last type is a promo in a somewhat different sense than the previous three in that it represents a profiling of the channel - as a brand - without directly corresponding to other programmes on the channel.

Promos have the specific point of directing the viewers' attention to the programmes listed, which, in turn (and among other things), direct viewers' attention to yet another type of unlisted programme, namely, commercials. From the perspective of the channel, these are an alien element that takes up 10-40 seconds and advertises certain products without any obvious relation to the channel and its programmes. Both commercials and promos are in the business of pointing to and characterizing a desirable future experience or product, and therefore one could expect certain similarities between styles of expression (which will be discussed in greater detail further below). But commercials and promos also differ by pointing to different future scenarios. Promos point to a future experience in the present world of the channel, while commercials point to a future appropriation of products in the absent world of the market.

Another important difference between commercials and promos is the fact that commercials are restricted by legislation which, taken together, has as its purpose to ensure obvious boundaries between the experiential world of the channel and the product world of the market. A central issue has recently been stated more precisely in the Danish Marketing Law of 2005,[12] in which it is spelled out that commercials should be identifiable as such. It also emerges clearly from the latest departmental order on radio and television (2006)[13] that TV commercials should be placed with due respect for the natural pauses and length of the programme, and persons, dolls or characters appearing in programmes are not allowed to appear in commercials (cf. the supplementary departmental order on commercials, 2005)[14]. TV 2 interprets this regulation as referring to programmes they themselves broadcast, and this interpretation allows persons appearing on other channels to appear in commercials on TV 2.[15]

However, the boundaries between the experience world of the channel and the product world of the market are not always as salient as intended in the law. In a way this is implied in the parasitic character of commercials. Commercials profit from a long and varied tradition of media forms and genres. Furthermore, commercials themselves have a stylistic rub-off effect on other types of programme (cf. tempo, dynamics, teasers en masse 'inside' programmes, etc.) and presentations of products (cf. product placement and commodity flow). Intertextuality seems to be an important feature of this game of mutual influence, which will be addressed in greater detail below.[16]

In TV schedules the non-programmes are apparently unimportant padding; they are anonymous (not mentioned or characterized),[17] and they are seemingly just there to fill in pauses between programmes. From the perspective of the channel, the appreciation of the padding is of course quite different. Padding is the material that enables the channel to tickle, attract and keep viewers (so as to deliver the audience to the channel, its offers and its advertisers' offers) by making sure that no gaps or interruptions occur during the flow. From the perspective of the viewer, the appreciation of padding is more diffuse: some of the elements of the programme flow might be met with refusal or indifference, while some other material might be considered interesting. This diffusion has of course to do with the fact that the viewers do not represent a homogeneous mass, so to aid further discussion and understanding, we will characterize 'the viewer'.

The viewer is of course already identified as a small child, but it has also been implied that we do not only view the small child as a 'viewer,' but also, and not least, as a 'listener.' Exactly these premises shall provide the background for the following analytical orientation toward auditory phenomena.

The sound of flow
Focusing on the sounds that appear during these programmes, it seems enlightening to differentiate between three overall categories of sound: Music, speech and noise (inspired by van Leeuwen 1999, among others).[18] While all types of programmes (programmes as well as non-programmes) have sound, not all categories are represented in all types of programmes. For instance, music appears in all types of programmes[19] (a few commercials do not have music, but there is no commercial break without music), whereas speech and noises only appear in some types of programme. This can be heard in relation to still shots and bumpers where there is only music and no speech or noises.

Looking more closely at the functions of the different categories of sounds, we find that speech generally and among other functions has a structuring and announcing function. Even though it is most often the symbolic nature of speech that has been addressed in analyses of media content,[20] when examining the way small children use media it also seems of great importance to include the auditory qualities of speech which lie beyond symbolic meaning. In this perspective the indexical references of speech can be highlighted when focusing on the speech-sound as a characterization of the person speaking (e.g. a low-pitched, slow and strong voice characterizing a big and heavy body), and also the uniqueness of voices allows recognition to be part of a possible primary attraction and aesthetic enjoyment.

Technically speaking, the speech sounds are both diegetic (directly motivated by the visuals and heard by the characters, as exemplified, for instance, by Martin in a conversation with Ketil) and extra-diegetic (added to the visuals without any obvious visual anchoring such as voice-overs in some commercials). In the analyzed material it is remarkable how many different and distinct speech-sounds are heard - for instance, in programmes where several permanent characters are present and the speech sounds are conducive to separating, identifying and characterizing the characters involved (e.g. Martin's airy and soft manner of speaking in contrast to Ketil's more accentuated and grating voice, and Daffy Duck's powerful and lisping voice contrasting with Porky Pig's reserved and nasal voice). Also in promos and commercials, speech sounds are highly significant; for instance, a level of distinctiveness is achieved in some commercials by using hurried, dramatic and pitch-altering voices (e.g. commercials for a Disney DVD and Elgiganten)[21] or by using famous characters with unmistakable and idiosyncratic tones of voice (e.g. the relaxed and lingering speech of Bischoff in a commercial for Realkredit Danmark).[22]

When it comes to music, it is obvious that the typical and general functions of television music are represented: attracting attention (function of presentation), characterizing upcoming programmes (function of representation), evoking memory and recognition (mnemonic function), and helping structure sequences and episodes (episodic marker function).[23] In Martin & Ketil a frequently recurring signature song is sung by Martin and Ketil accompanied by an acoustic guitar. In the analyzed material the song is never heard in its entirety,[24] but at a minimum the song's hookline is always heard - for example, for seven seconds at the beginning of the programme. The accentuation of the melody of Martin & Ketilcorresponds to the metrical feet[25] of their names and hence evokes (the basis for effortless) recognition. The song has a relatively lively tempo, is articulated in the mode of pentatonic major,[26] and the melody is uncomplicated and easy to sing along with. The hookline appears to be extra-diegetic and is very often an episodic marker in relation to the introduction of different scenarios. From time to time the music is diegetic in Martin & Ketil - for example, when Martin and Ketil perform a musical number in a form related to the music video. Another interesting example from the analyzed material is related to the 'beamed' journey to the Royal Danish Theatre to visit one of the musicians. These examples are important as regards socialization to music and musical codes, in that the music is explicated 'visually' (cf. the music video-like inserts) and 'verbally' (cf. the musician who is asked to accompany Martin's dreams - for instance, 'a man walking in the forest').

In Duck Dodgers we are also exposed to a signature song, but it represents a different function from the one experienced in Martin & Ketil. The song is articulated as a long complete melody (lasting fifty-eight seconds), sung by Tom Jones and accompanied by a symphonic pop arrangement (including wind sections and strings). The difference between the two signature songs is interesting: the song in 'Martin and Ketil' is concise and therefore contributes to the general montage-like style of the programme (by structuring it and enabling recognition), whereas the song in Duck Dodgers is relatively long and imposing. This makes the representational function of the song more prominent in Duck Dodgers. Moreover, Duck Dodgers is almost continuously accompanied by music (as are many cartoons), highlighting the ways in which the music supports the characters and constructs the mood.

In commercials, the musical elements are relatively highly varied, spanning from short, complete melodies, so-called jingles (e.g. in a Toyota commercial) to longer supplements to voice overs (in a teaser for Batman) or presenters (in a commercial for Realkredit Danmark).[27] The ways music is used in commercials coincide somewhat with the ways it is used in teasers; in this material the teasers typically have a continuous music track and are sometimes significantly similar in structure and style to musical expressions in commercials. This applies, for example, to the relation between a teaser for the show Batman of the Future and a commercial for Guldkorn[28] in which Batman appears. The music score of both programme elements is intense and characterized by drums and electric guitars, and in both elements the music characterizes the products (Batman and the co-branded Guldkorn/Batman product, respectively) as well as establishing expectations towards actually possessing them. The similarity in structure and style is further reinforced by the fact that the two elements appear in the programme flow only a few seconds apart. In bumpers it is clearly the announcing, signaling function of the music that is most apparent - very much like the function of the jingle in commercials.

With respect to sounds of noise, these typically appear to derive from actions or objects shown or implicated in the pictures. Therefore, noise sounds seem diegetic since although they might have been manipulated (strengthened or distorted such as certain sound effects in cartoons or in Martin & Ketil's World, and thereby technically extra-diegetic), they directly correspond with and are motivated by visible actions.

Sounds of noise generally serve a dramatizing, sometimes surprising and entertaining, function, since they represent a meaningful characteristic of the object or the incident to which they are connected (for instance, the speed and weight of a fist stroke (Martin & Ketil), the firmness of a beard that is pulled (Duck Dodgers) or the characteristics of a fight in a cardboard box (the Guldkorn commercial). So they have a causal and indexical relation to the narrative progress. The sounds of noise can be put in perspective in several ways. In an approach inspired by gestalt psychology (using terminology borrowed from Shafer; cf. Shafer 1977/1994: 152f), with reference to Martin & Ketil's World, a number of sounds (silence, accompanied by an echo, beeping, whistling, ringing and vibrating sounds) contribute to the illusion of field; frequently occurring sound effects (for instance, the beamer, the converter and the movements of Arto, the robot) act as ground; and particular effect sounds (for instance, fist strokes) act as figure. In summary, the stated characteristics of the appearances and functions of sounds make it obvious that the programme flow is characterized by repetitions at several levels. Partly within the individual programme and partly between programme elements where, for example, bumpers and commercials are recurrent. The programme flow is furthermore characterized by significant similarities in style across different programme elements. For instance, picture and sound (in which especially sound effects play an important part) are generally synchronized, speech sounds have a variety of uses, and music widely serves to signal upcoming events (for example, in relation to bumpers and the hookline of Martin & Ketil) and to extra-diegetically emphasize the narrative progress (in certain commercials and in the Duck Dodgers cartoon).

Sound is characterized by three functions: it co-establishes a comforting and familiar visual and auditory background (caused by the music score and the many repetitions and recognizable voices and effect sounds), it attracts attention (understood as presence and the audience's focus on the screen), and it contributes to continuous attention.

The functions of sound are very closely related to children's exploratory approach to television. When a child is not looking at the screen (but is playing, walking around or perhaps in another room), the sounds serve as background and to signal future, possibly desired, events. This approach to sound may be called absent-minded listening (Ruud 1983); in it the whole auditory experience becomes a field (as previously mentioned) for the child's actions, speech and so on, which might then be labeled a figure. Sometimes songs might be integrated in the child's play, and thereby act as a kind of ground position, since the child can synchronously sing along with the music on TV and/or non-synchronously sing the same songs to itself (perhaps in modified versions; see Barrett 2003) and in this way contribute to creating a soundtrack for its own play. In this approach some of the above-mentioned perspectives involving the relationship between sound and the narrative progress might be of less relevance to the child's way of experiencing and using sound. Rather it seems as if it is recognition (made possible by several repetitions) and surprise, for example by means of a significant contrast, which can attract the child's auditory attention (this can be seen in observation studies (Johansen 2005) and is noticed by Calvert and Gersch 1987).

When a child watches TV the relationship between sound and image then becomes relevant. In this instance it seems as if the synchronized relationship between sound and image can hold the attention of the youngest children (cf. also Dodd 1979 and Rice, Huston and Wright 1983). Furthermore, it would seem that a generally high level of perceptual salience (high level of intensity, quick shifts and fast movements, and significant contrasts) contributes to attracting and maintaining children's attention (also described in Rice, Huston and Wright 1983:27ff), although this perceptual salience may be considered a feature of the programme flow, which is so common that there is a risk of 'inflation of attention.' At the same time, the audiovisual expression generally may be regarded as socializing children to listen absent-mindedly as well as to establish schemes and codes of musical perception.

In summary, the formal features of TV (as formulated in auditory and visual gestalts) appear primarily to attract the attention of the relatively media-inexperienced young child, rather than its narrative or symbolic features. When these formal features described above are a common characteristic of the channel flow as such - across otherwise different programme formats - it is relevant to relate this to discussions of children's ability to distinguish between commercials and non-commercials. At this point we can conclude that the formal features do not encourage children to make a distinction. This discussion will be further elaborated below in our consideration of additional links between commercials and teasers as regards their genre and content. Furthermore, we wish to illustrate how a programme flow like this one is part of a larger context of media texts and cultural expressions.

Intertextuality and inclusive approaches
In the above analysis, we have shown that there are connections between different kinds of commercials (commercials and teasers) with respect to their context and formal features. As previously stated, this was proven to be the case for Batman, which appears in both a teaser (Batman of the Future) and a commercial (Guldkorn). The Batman commercials are furthermore an obvious example of how branding takes place in different media (Batman on TV 2 and Batman online (kids.tv2.dk)) as programme content, commercials and merchandise related to another brand - so-called co-branding. These symbolic relations attempt to influence the viewer on many levels, so that in the viewers' mind, the TV 2 brand, the Guldkorn brand and the Batman brand might be understood as related. McAllister and Giglio describe this as commodity flow ,[29] a notion which refers to the way in which commercials for commodities 'spread' across several media and expressions and commodity flow thus, according to the writers: "is a defining characteristic of children's television programming" (McAllister and Giglio 2005: 26).

Further examples of relationships between different types of content can be pointed out. For example, between different commercials and also at an intertextual level, where music, sound and modes of address refer to various media texts and must therefore be understood as offering opportunities for alternative and/or supplementary readings. For instance, there is a musical resemblance between two different commercials for two DVD movies: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Emperor's New Groove, since they are both underscored by wind sections and funk rhythms. At the same time, both commercials are put together by bits of dialogue which are emphasized by direct, imperative modes of address such as 'Come forward!' or 'Open the door!', by means of which the viewer gets invited into the universe of the movie. These features are also present in a commercial for 'Realkredit Danmark,' where Hans Bischoff[30] enters a room followed by the camera and the viewers. In the same way, teasers often appear all-inclusive by using phrases like 'the whole kingdom,' 'the whole family,' 'see you in a little while,' 'see you later,' 'we are having visitors,' 'every Saturday and Sunday,' and 'cartoon for you.' Martin and Ketil also invite the viewer inside via the song 'Haba Haba Kulu, take a trip with Zulu' and by mentioning 'our earth' in the title song. From the perspective of flow, this means that the range of programming as such supports an (apparently) direct and personal relation.

Apart from the above-mentioned example, intertextual references also appear in a commercial for 'Becel,'[31] where the underscore is 'Put a Little Love in Your Heart,' a song used in the Stuart Little movies,[32] which many children are probably acquainted with. Stuart Little appears in two feature films and a series of cartoons (as well as in books); the cartoons are shown on TV 2. In general, intertextual references must be understood as an unavoidable characteristic of our commercialized media culture, and connections - intended or not - will always appear. References might appear between different programmes or channels or they might have a historical or nostalgic perspective, which among other places is seen in the Duck Dodgers cartoon, based on the classic Warner Brothers cartoon Daffy Duck. In the present version the characters are super-heroes in outer space. Apart from being broadcast on TV 2, the cartoon is also broadcast on Cartoon Network in Denmark.[33]

In the analyzed programme flow, a short music video is used as a kind of filler. In it, the Danish singers Elisabeth and Otto Brandenburg sing a verse from a Danish children's book, Halfdan's ABC. The images are drawings by the writer and illustrator of the book, Ib Spang Olsen. Halfdan's ABC is an absolute classic in Danish children's literature, and Ib Spang Olsen often appeared in children's television in the '70s and '80s. As such, this little element is loaded with cultural and nostalgic references to times past. References to various cultural values also appear in other kinds of programme elements; for instance, the teaser for The Ugly Duckling and I emphasizes that the cartoon is produced in Denmark, just as the commercial for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory underlines the fact that 'everybody speaks Danish.' Similarly, Duck Dodgers accentuates the Warner Brothers logo and hence refers to a classic cartoon tradition, and the title song, sung by Tom Jones, sounds like a James Bond theme song. The teaser for the coverage of the christening of the Danish Prince Christian - an event which by nature is associated with a sense of national identity - is a cartoon (and must therefore have a certain appeal to children) and is narrated by Flemming Quist Møller[34] (another representative of 'the good old days' of children's television).

The hosts Martin and Ketil also refer to themselves in another programme: Nature Patrol,[35] where they, along with Sebastian Klein[36] as the confused Dr. Pjuskebusk, examined natural phenomena and among other things guessed which animal had produced a particular sample of feces. This illustrates the tendency of hosts as well as formats and genres to move between channels, both nationally and transnationally.

Finally, Martin and Ketil emphasize the handing down of the cultural heritage through certain normative and didactic elements. This didactic purpose is underlined in the subtitle, The World for Beginners, which indicates that the programme will introduce 'the World' to children. In the analyzed show, in which Martin visits the Royal Danish Theatre, the subject is how to play the bassoon as well as how to use music to illustrate one's dreams. The programme applies a specific perspective on the meaning of classical music in and for our culture - as something ethereal and high-brow - and takes it upon itself to pass on a classical cultural heritage.

All the elements of the analyzed television flow are characteristically structured by easily recognizable visual and auditory patterns. For instance, the same sentences are repeated in every episode. This of course means that recognition is an important parameter for the viewer (the listener), who organizes his or her viewing on the basis of previous experiences with the media's forms of expression, combined with knowledge of the social aspect of a viewing situation. When attention is directed towards the TV screen, it will often be caught by a sound, which for some reason 'attracts' the child. It could be a voice or part of a melody which the child recognizes or it could be auditory markers of programme structure (stage shift, etc.) which make the child look at the screen and perhaps move towards it to resume its direct viewing. This is also described by Rodacy and Boyle (1979), but the point here is that we assume that some kind of meaningful reception takes place even when attention is not directed visually at the screen. In other words: You can watch TV facing away from the screen, and in this situation sound is the ultimate structuring parameter.

Typically, programmes aimed at small children consciously use this form, in which specific visual and auditory markers are suffused with iconographic meaning, and thereby enable a continuous connection with the small child as an exploratory, and not especially faithful, viewer. A show like Teletubbies uses this method to the extreme in that it is structured by infinite repetitions and marked breaks (bumpers) between each of them. This abrupt structure is also found in the commercial breaks, which thereby take up an important part of the programme flow. Small children are remarkably interested in commercials - both teasers and commercials (Johansen 2005) - a fact which we first and foremost ascribe to the structure and presumably also to the welcoming and inclusive mode of address, as previously mentioned. The function of these elements in the programme flow is therefore supplemental and different from the functions which are usually mentioned in literature formulated from an adult perspective: that there are no breaks in the flow and that the channel and its advertisers can be 'branded' and 'sold.'

As such, non-programmes have functions similar to those traditionally associated with programmes, and they are not just fillers for the small child. Mouritsen (2003) describes how children use the language and form of commercials, including the musical aspects, as raw material in their play culture. The youngest children primarily direct their attention toward the simple narratives, which then function as a basis for their socialization with respect to media use. The child is being socialized on an overall level regarding rhythm, narrative structure and music. In addition, via their use of media, children develop a competence with codes and achieve an understanding of narratives as well as the visual and auditory markers which constitute and determine media texts. Commercials undoubtedly contribute to this socialization of the small child toward partaking in consumer society. In commercials, new toys are introduced, the child is exposed to 'what can be bought' and consequently 'what one can wish for.' And finally a bodily and normative socialization takes place in the family, around the activity of 'watching television.' The child learns when and how to watch television, and learns how to deal with watching television in an acceptable way (Johansen 2006).

In summary, it can be stated that in the programme flow - and in the relationship between programmes and non-programmes - intertextual references and overlaps in addressing modes frequently appear. Therefore, understanding the flow as just that - flow - makes good sense, and refers beyond the current programme flow, drawing on an infinite stock of traditions and references to media culture as such. These overlaps are often defined and determined by aspects which have to do with sound: music and sound effects as plot and attention markers, speech to underline a person's character, and music as part of a tradition of cultural heritage, pointing back to 'way back when.' In addition, many references to national and nostalgic aspects can be seen. Whether this matter is of significance to children is not possible to examine further in this article, but it would be of interest for future research.

While working on this article, our attention has been directed towards the structuring of children's television in general. There seems to be a general tendency towards structural fragmentation also in public service or non-commercial television, towards increasing similarities between non-commercial and commercial children's programmes such as Martin & Ketil - the World for Beginners. Due to its abrupt structure, Martin & Ketil is also somewhat similar to morning television aimed at adults, which consists of a series of independent elements brought together in an overall framework by two hosts. In this perspective one may assume that the structure of the programme 'fits' the exploratory way the small child acts, although it has not been possible to examine this in the present article. We assume, however, based on this analysis and on observation studies, that for young children, this has some significance in respect to fascination and understanding. Furthermore, we consider it likely that the blurred forms of expression in commercial TV make it more difficult for the viewer to distinguish between different types of content, although we do not wish to judge whether or not this should be understood as a purpose of media socialization.

Final comments
In this analysis, we have tried to shed light on the fact that auditory phenomena play a central role in the way children use television. First of all, there are many and quite varied sounds in the current programme flow which approach children; and secondly, sound has a significant connection with TV as it is used by the small child. The large variety and amount of sounds in the analyzed programme flow are apparently a characteristic of commercial children's television (although additional comparative studies of non-commercial children's television, as well as television for adults, are necessary to substantiate this claim). This implies that sound is a significant category of style, with determining implications for the concept of genre (albeit if it is accepted that children often watch television facing away from the screen, without having the sound go behind their backs, as it were). Sound then structures the flow in both a syntagmatic and paradigmatic way: it sequences the flow in a 'horizontal' perspective and it segments the flow in a 'vertical' perspective by signaling, calling and making possible recognition and association. In addition, in its exploratory activities, the child often integrates the sound of the TV in its current, simultaneous actions and thereby creates a viewer sub-flow in which the child focuses its attention on the field, ground and figure, guided by the auditory connection.

Sound, then, is by no means a matter of secondary importance in the programme flow as far as the child is concerned, and this article introduces two implications of this fact: firstly, that the formal similarities between elements in the flow do not support the child in making distinctions between the intentions behind programmes; and secondly, that the child is being socialized into a specific way of using television which seems to encourage certain modes of listening as well as certain codes for experiencing and understanding the programmes. It therefore seems reasonable to begin listening to children's television and observing how sound is concretely integrated and used by the exploratory child while watching television.

1 The age range of the official target audience of the program Martin & Ketil - the World for Beginners (the central programme in the series of programmes) is three to eleven years. The empirical investigation of the ways small children use television referred to in the analysis is based on observations of children from one-and-a-half to three years of age (Johansen 2005). At present no Danish programs are officially aimed at children younger than three years of age, and there are no records of either the number of viewers or of audience ratings.

2 The present examination is also somewhat complicated by this state of affairs; however, it is beyond the scope of the article to discuss this issue in greater detail.

3 Such a soundtrack can be of great importance to the small child, whereas a grown-up observer might tend to hear it as trivial or unimportant.

4 TV 2 is a nationwide Danish television corporation, financed by commercials but with public service obligations.

5 We monitored the programs throughout the winter and spring of 2005/2006, and against a background of different dates representing rather similar programmes during this period, the particular date was chosen at random.

6 About 70,000 viewers typically watch these programmes (as mentioned in footnote 1, this number refers only to viewers older than 3 years of age). By comparison, the number of viewers who typically watch the most popular children's programs aired by the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR), which is financed by license fees and has public service obligations, often exceeds 200,000. A program called Sigurds Bjørnetime, which is comparable to Martin & Ketil in several ways, had an average of 185,000 daily viewers in week 30, 2006. It should be noted, though, that Sigurds Bjørnetime is broadcast in the evening while Martin & Ketil is broadcast in the morning. Generally speaking, there will always be more viewers in the afternoon and evening than in the morning, regardless of the type of program.

7 Super-flow (and the affiliated conception of house-style (Ellis 1982)), aother relevant category of flow, will be briefly addressed in the discussion below.

8 An overview of the exact sequence of the programs is available on application to the authors.

9 The unlisted programmes last 18 minutes and 35 seconds, while the listed programmes last 46 minutes and 25 seconds. (Martin & Ketil lasts 24 minutes and 20 seconds and Duck Dodgers 22 minutes and 5 seconds).

10 Throughout the year a variety of cartoons are broadcast along with Martin & Ketil, so the thematic coincidence must be qualified as accidental.

11 A temporal analysis of non-programs has been done (cf. Jantzen & Stigel 1995 and Hicketier & Bleichert 1997), but the series of programmes chosen is not suitable for comparison with these specifications. It seems, though, that a greater number of commercials could have been registered had we chosen a different sample, for example during the Christmas season.

12 http://www.retsinfo.dk/_GETDOCI_/ACCN/A20050 138930-REGL

13 http://www.retsinfo.dk/_LINK_0/0&ACCN/A20060041029

14 http://www.retsinfo.dk/_LINK_0/0&ACCN/B20050136805

15 There is no example of this in the material analyzed, but a matter of interest is the appearance of Batman in both a commercial and a promo. We will discuss this in greater detail below.

16 Intertextuality is used to account for the relationship established between two or more texts, based on explicit or implicit references (e.g. through quotes, paraphrases, pastiches, etc.).

17 Internal records reflect the actual appearances of promos, but still commercials are listed en bloc without specification.

18 In reality, the three categories are not as clear-cut as the reference might indicate, but for analytical purposes the categories can function as a reasonable approach.

19 All the more remarkable, then, is the fact that television music is somewhat ignored by media research and musicology. The following statement is not wide off the mark: " TV music has been virtually neglected as an area of serious inquiry" (Tagg 2006: 163).

20 With van Leeuwen 1999 as an important and inspiring exception.

21 A Danish chain of electronic appliance stores.

22 The former has worked as a news reporter and presenter for DR many years, and he is known for his serious and comprehensible way of communicating; the latter is a Danish mortgage institute.

23 Inspired by a small number of research initiatives (thereby representing exceptions to the general evaluation offered previously) on music in episode series (Tagg & Clarida 2003), documentaries (Have 2006), news (Graakjær 2004) and commercials (Graakjær 2006).

24 The song can be heard in its entirety on CD's and DVD's.

25 The names are both trochees, and this is reflected by the metric accentuation (strong - weak) and the melodic progression (descending intervals) of the melody.

26 This is a tone system based on five notes. Especially because of the absence of semitones it seems predisposed to articulate singable folk and children songs.

27 See Graakjær 2006 for further discussion of musical appearances in television commercials.

28 A breakfast cereal.

29 The word flow is used differently from in the previous section. McAllister and Giglio use flow as a metaphor for the diffusion of products in different media and genres. So as to avoid confusion with the concept of flow, a notion such as commodity dissemination might be a more appropriate term for the processes McAllister and Giglio are interested in.

30 See note 22.

31 A margarine product.

32 Jackie DeShannon, Jimmy Holiday and Randy Myers, 1969.

33 A similar connection can be seen between Disney Channel and DR, which holds the license to Disney in Denmark.

34 Flemming Quist Møller is a Danish author of children's literature; many of his books have been transformed into cartoons.

35 "Naturpatruljen" in Danish. DR, 1997-2003.

36 A Danish actor who is a very popular host of children's programmes on DR. Son of the actor Jesper Klein, with whom he also makes children's programmes.


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