This study looks at television as a text and the way in which it is read, with particular reference to continuous narratives.\ud - Video literacy is defined as the competence possessed by viewers by which they comprehend moving picture media.\ud - Television texture is a term intended to indicate the nature of television output as a text.\ud - Soap opera is a popular term for a continuing drama serial that derives from the original association of the form with sponsorship by detergent companies.\ud \ud Film theory has provided the basis for much of our understanding of moving pictures, but the film medium is increasingly being displaced by the electronic image. The metaphor of film language or grammar has proved to be difficult to sustain beyond a simple analogy because of fundamental differences between words and images. As an alternative, the notion of video literacy is proposed, and\ud the act of viewing is seen to be an active mental process comparable to reading. The particular nature of the television text is discussed and broadcasting is shown\ud to have developed distinctive narrative forms.\ud \ud As an example of a particular form of television text, the soap opera genre is surveyed from its historical origins, with specific reference to British serials, and difficulties of definition are discussed. Although soap operas were originally targeted at women, the audience for contemporary serials is shown to be reasonably\ud representative of that for television in general. As a case study, the long-running Yorkshire Television serial Emmerdale is selected for closer examination. A method of formal analysis is proposed, based on the structural\ud composition of shots and scenes. This is used to compare\ud the construction of four continuing serials, providing a description of the formal features that determine\ud some of the key characteristics by which the genre is recognised
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