The term “active audience” defines the consumers of media content and implies that they should not be viewed as passive recipients of information but rather as agents who engage with media content and are impacted by the social environment in which they watch it. The elements that interact with media consumption include prior experience, present beliefs, family, employment circle, and friends.
Instead of being source-dominated, this idea might be referred to as audience-centered. According to Baran and Davis (2006), this idea should be examined from a micro-level viewpoint rather than a macro-level perspective. After cultural studies forayed into this topic in the 1970s, this idea became more popular.
Characteristics of an active audience
Frank Biocca talked about five qualities that this genre’s theory revealed about the engaged audience.
A. Selectivity is the first. Active audiences are said to be picky about the media they utilize.
B. The utility is the second characteristic. Media is stated to be used by active audiences to fulfill specific needs and objectives.
C. Intentionality denotes the deliberate use of media content and is the third factor.
D. The fourth trait is effort or involvement. Here, audiences are involved with, considering, and utilizing the media.
E. The fifth trait is resistance to influence, or not highly susceptible to being convinced by the media by itself.
Model for Active Audience
These models are founded on the fundamental notion that no text has a single meaning. The receiver must extract and decode the meaning. In other words, the transmission communication model is discredited, and the notion that reality is socially constructed is adopted. The media message is not given a monopoly on meaning; as receivers, individuals always attempt to make sense of the information they take.
Texts are said to be polysemic or to have numerous meanings. A work may have a preferred reading—the author’s intended meaning—, but this reading may be compromised if the audience decodes it differently. The uses and gratifications theory is the first attempt to try to account for an engaged audience. This idea places a focus on the many methods that individuals consume media. In other words, individuals employ the media for their ends. Different people can utilize the same media product to get various levels of gratification.
Active Audience Theory
According to the active audience theory, media viewers actively participate—often unconsciously—in making meaning of the message within their own and other people’s contexts rather than simply passively taking in information.
Therefore, family history, beliefs, values, culture, hobbies, education, and experiences may all affect how a media message is decoded. Decoding a message refers to how successfully a person can receive and comprehend a message.
A subset of Stuart Hall’s Encoding and Decoding Model, Active Audience Theory is mainly related to mass media consumption.
Television viewers and active audience hypothesis
Recent advances in cultural studies have given rise to the active audience idea, which is now widely used in the study of mass media. The development of the trend resulted from investigating television audience viewing habits using ethnographic research techniques. In general, active audience theorists contend that the alternative explanations for viewer behavior placed in “reception” research refute conventional notions of media impacts.
The active audience theorists contend, among other things, that their “findings” call for a fundamental reevaluation of viewer behavior and that would-be media industry critics must realize that television audiences have significantly more influence over the medium than is widely believed.