In their book, Katz and Dayan describe how this other television differs from the daily diet of series and "news magazines.
According to the authors, this kind of television resembles holidays. It declares "time out" from the routines of broadcasting daily life.
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It demands that we stop all other activity to celebrate an event that embodies a value that all of us share. These media events can transfix a nation - or even a large part of the viewing public around the world.
Katz and Dayan estimate that million viewers can be watching an event at one time. They define their subject as a live event - occurring in "real time. An event like the Three Mile Island nuclear scare, they suggest, was not a media event in the same way because it was not programmed.
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It may still be, of course, a major news story. As Katz and Dayan view it, this kind of "festive" or even ritual television allows the principals to talk over the heads of the "middlemen" who normally mediate between leaders and their public.
The live broadcasting of media events, they conclude, "has redefined the relative power of organizers, intermediaries, broadcasters, and viewers, and the very essence of a public event.