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Media Theory Understanding Media Media Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Media
Wordcount: 3021 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Media theory is analyzing the media in different views. An understanding of media theory explains the various ways in which our way of communication determines how feelings are developed and also are limited, whom we can reach and whom we cannot, who and what we are and what we think and don’t think about. This explains everything that we can do, think and experience practically in the world (see ref 1)

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To put it in a broader sense, we can say that an explanation or understanding of a set of concepts and ideas that are coherent is a theory.(‘the world’ in its broadest sense, e.g. ‘the individual human being’, ‘man-made artifacts’ , ‘group of human beings’, ‘nature’ etc.). A way in which one generally proceeds while attempting to understand or explain the world is a method. A process where a given theory (understanding) and a given method (procedure) are confronted and united is an analysis therefore that leads to an outcome of the analysis. The concept of method, theory and analysis can be broadly depicted as shown below. (See ref 2)

We can say that in the analysis of the world, one observes it with a particular gaze (the approach in which the eye scans the world around and continues towards it) and few look through certain optics, or a particular pair of glasses (the grinding and form of spectacle lenses) that give a particular view of the world, which is what one sees. (see ref 2)

The vital concepts of media theory are:

Media Language

Media language is all about having an understanding of the involved processes in the building of the media texts and the way techniques used in the building affects the way the texts are read. The technical codes of the any certain forms of media are to be discussed (like the font or size of the masthead on a newspaper’s first page, or the using of a music that is spooky in a certain scene or horror film) and the way they are used produce the required meaning. But the description of these would become much easier with some knowledge of Semiotic theory, as this would help us to describe the way communication takes place.

According to this theory, every particular piece of text, if it’s a book, a film, a picture or an individual word-they are all made up of unique signs. These unique signs have both denotative or literal meaning- a signifier and a signified meaning or a connotative. The shape the sign takes is the ‘signifier’, and the idea it represents is the ‘signified’. Having knowledge about semiotic theory is very useful especially while studying advertising. The advertisers generally plan to give supplementary meanings to the products which would help in selling of the product, upon the actual literal meaning.


This Genre concept accounts for conventions and codes that texts generally share and also their features that are generic. By identifying some major elements that occur in the text and also in other texts of the same genre, the genre of the text is classified. The elements vary from font to music to costume to plot points (depends on the medium) and these are known as paradigms (generally, method of doing something).The paradigms are identified by the audience and these accordingly bring about an expectations set to the text reading. For example, in a police thriller the accused is brought to the justice at the end. These paradigms can be made into groups depending on if they relate to theme (the ideas and issues it deals with), structure (how the text is put and the shape the text takes) and iconography ( i e., the major symbols and signs that we hear/see).


Narrative refers to the text shape or structure itself, its story telling way and how it is formed or shaped. This comes from the common word ‘narrator’ which means a storyteller. In a similar way, narrative indicates a written story or a story that is told. When mass media is concerned the media text is the story and complete team of people involved in building and shaping it properly for the audience. Thus narrative is a way of structuring and organizing


According to the definition, every media text is a reality re-presentation. In other words, these are all intentionally composed, lit, written, framed, cropped, captioned, branded, targeted and censored by the producers. These are completely artificial composition of the real world we see around. All that we see, listen and read in the media is build. It’s important to keep in mind while studying the media-any form of media, ranging from a video at home to a magazine that is glossy, everything is representation of some person’s idea of existence, coded as a series of symbols and signs which is readable by the audience. Though, it is vital to make a note that the absence of media would make our perception towards reality much limited. And these duplicate or artificial texts are required to communicate our world’s view as an audience. To put it more clearly, for a sense of reality media is required. Hence the representation is a fluid and also a process that is two-way; the producers place the text somewhere in connection to reality and this text is determined on its connection to reality by the audiences.


A minimum of two parties are required for a communication to take place, that is, one who send the message and the one who receives it. The receiver of the text is the audience as they interpret the conveyed message. Either analyzing or constructing a text, the text destination has to be considered, i.e., the audience and the response of the audience (or other) to the text. (See ref 3).

This document is about to discuss about a commercial T.V advertisement and analyzing it in the semiotics view of perspective.


Semiotics depicts a variety of studies in literature, art, anthropology and mass media instead of a separate academic discipline. Semiotics is vital as it helps us in not taking reality for something which has a existence that is purely objective and is not dependent on human interpretation. It explains how reality is a signs system. Learning the subject semiotics would result in more awareness and making us realize reality is a construction, also of the roles played by others and ourselves to construct it. It brings about awareness that computers, visual or audio media, books or in the world doesn’t ‘contain’ the meaning for information. The ‘transmission’ of meaning is not directly done; a complex exchange of conventions or codes happens and these are created by us. But we aren’t always aware of these. It’s both innately interesting and knowledgeably endowing being aware of such kind of codes and conventions. From semiotics, we realize that we are in a world that is full of signs and there is no other way of understanding things, but through organized codes and signs. The study of semiotics gives us an awareness that these codes and signs are generally transparent but our task is disguised in ‘reading’ them. As the visual signs in the world are increasing day by day, we have to understand that though some signs appear to be very ‘realistic’, they are not realistic. We might perform the semiotic function that is-‘ denaturalizing’ of signs which is valuable; this might be performed by making the codes more obvious and clear by which the interpretation of signs is done. The ideological functions are served when the realities are defined. The realities that are suppressed and those that are privileged can be revealed by contesting and deconstructing the sign realities. The maintenance and construction of reality is the study of signs. It is like leaving the control of the world that we live in that is full of meaning to others if such studies are declined. (See ref 4)

Social Semiotics/Multimodal Semiotics/Multimedia Semiotics:

Ranging from movies, music, mass media images, printed texts, voice, digital multimedia and web content in the computer- we include various kinds of media that is physical in our everyday usage of signs and languages for meaning making and communication. These several means of communicating a meaning (often referred as ‘modalities’ of communication) sometimes overlay and interpret or pass on the meaning from other contemporary media in our culture. We can simultaneously watch the news on the television that interprets an event, listen to music, we can read the multimedia web pages, also watch a genre like sit-com which is a mass-media genre that would require lot of knowledge of codes, write emails, write or talk about a movie. That is we are continuously making meaning, sending and receiving in several types of media, regularly communicating and deducing meaning from one medium to other. This learning points to something which is referred as ‘semiosphere’; an existence of our concurrent and inherited semiotic system; the whole world of possible and available meanings in the cultural system. The social semiotics proceeds to semiosis- a meaning making process; necessarily the system of meaning-the inter-relations between signs are taken into consideration as the resources for deployment of meaning making. Some semiotic practices are specifically scrutinized for the building of several types of messages and meanings in several situations and cultural contexts that are of meaningful activity – by social semiotics. (See ref 5).

Let us consider the advertisements that were released on air by the virgin group of company on the “virgin mobiles” to study the concept of Semiotics. The virgin company deals with two different types of business one is the mobile network and second one is the media such as broadband and TV channel network. This network provider entered into the market with a lot of value added services such as message offers, low rate international calling, To make the public know about these services the virgin group has made a several advertisements and released on air.

The above two images are the logos of the Virgin group Ltd. From the above logos or the symbols we can identify whether the business is mobiles or the broadband.

In the above two businesses “virgin mobile” was introduced in 1999 and “virgin media” was introduced into the market in 2007. If you observe the font style and the color of the word” virgin” in both the logos, are same because of the brand image. Even the color used in the virgin mobile logo couldn’t be kept away from the virgin media logo


Advertisements are now a day’s very much important in the real world to make the people aware of any news; these advertisements may be in the form of newspaper ads, TV commercials, radio transmission, internet and leaflets. These advertisements are now become very commercial. Companies who want to release any new product have to make people know about it and this is done by advertising the product in different means. These make profits to the companies and that’s why, even the advertisements are very expensive the companies make advertise their products spending lot of money.

On the other side the companies are making controversial advertisements to make the product highlight for the better sales. There were many controversial ads released in air by many companies, where these ads are not accepted by the society which are either banned or released by removing the uncensored bits from the ad. But, from past 2 Decades the Indian advertising industry has released many censored advertisements which are unfit for the public acceptance

(See ref 6).

As advertisement consists of fully semiotic codes and its meanings, analyzing the advertisements in semiotic view of perspective is very easy.

Coming to the analyzing part the media I have chosen is a TV commercial advertisement from virgin mobile network. Virgin mobile network is one of the largest cellular network providers in India which is a joint group between the Tata cellular service and virgin group. This network provider has launched in India recently in 2008 provides both postpaid and prepaid sim cards. The above two companies together provides 50 per cent of share in the market (see ref7). During the Indian premier league (IPL) matches, these advertisements were banned due to some comments made in these advert. Some of them are class and some of them are violent. These advertisements are made by the virgin mobile to advert the service that is provided by the network which is the cheapest STD calls provided by the virgin mobiles. To show that they are providing the `cheapest STD rates they have chosen eight people from different states of India where each of them calls to each other for every single minute which shows the STD calls are cheaper.

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To make this concept mix up with the IPL (INDIAN PREMIERE LEAGUE) they have chosen eight people as there are eight teams in IPL where each member is a fan of their state team. These eight members’ rings up each other for every single minute and abuses themselves about the teams which shows that the STD calls are very cheaper. When we observe the name of the provider “Virgin Mobiles” the meaning of the word Virgin is “pure” and by this we can analyze that the company has chosen the name to say that the network is very good.

There were total 63 ads released during the IPL as there were eight fans for the eight teams in IPL and each one of them criticizes the other seven teams.

The following are the images from the ads which were banned during IPL by the virgin mobile.

On the first look of these images we can notice that two people are talking to each other in a phone, but when you observe the last image when the sign or the symbol “STD @20p/min” is displayed than the viewer’s comes to a conclusion that the people are speaking from different parts of India at a very cheap rate and also can conclude that the network provider is providing the STD calls at very low cost.

As we know semiotics is the study of signs where everything that taken as sign. According to the Daniel Chandler semiotics is not only the study of signs but anything that stands for something.

The above image is from one of the advert released by virgin mobile during IPL, in the above image the left side fan belongs to the Bangalore team and the right side fan belongs to the Punjab team, this we can know by seeing the titles below the both fans.

By considering the Daniel Chandler statement on semiotics and by viewing the above image in his view of perspective we can say that the right side fan belongs to Punjab even though if there is no caption because of the physical appearance of him, as all the people who lives in Punjab wears the turban on their head.

In India people never used to say or think about the word virgin as it gives us the primary idea about sex, but when this network entered into market with the name “virgin” than people mainly youngsters slowly started speaking the word. This network created massive profits and became one of the top network providers in India in a very less period of time as they concentrated mainly on youth rather than old people.

To attract the youngsters the virgin group of ltd has released the advertisements on virgin mobiles which is based mainly on love and some of the advertisements are based on the friendship. (See ref8)

Then slowly trend has entered into the society that the word virgin was printed on t-shirts which shows that youth was so attracted towards the virgin network.

After attracting the youth this network was slowly called as the “Dhosth ka network” which means “friends network” as it was very useful for a group of friends who wants to keep in touch for a very long time because it provides the lowest calling rate.

This virgin network mainly concentrated on youth rather than the aged people by providing services such as message offers and free calls to a number. The advertisements which were released by the company other than the ads released during IPL were very much attracted by the youth as they was fully involved with the ideas of a student. The color combination used in the logo of virgin media i.e. red and white gives the feel of romantic and cool which attracted the youngsters a lot.

The caption that is used for this network is “Think hatke” which means “think different”. Now a day’s caption plays a major role in every single media in this world.

Caption is defined as the short name or title which describes the meaning and the ideas of a business or any other media. These captions are now a day’s became very popular that each and every company who wants to introduce any new product into the market they advert it by different media transmissions with a good caption.



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