CTCS 191 Paper

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  • Topic: Comedy Central, Television, South Park
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  • Published : May 1, 2014
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Joshua Berg
CTCS 191 Critical Paper Assignment
Anna Hughes
April 10, 2013
Comedy Central:
Having the Last Laugh

Comedy Central has always been a channel that enjoys pushing societies limits. Devoting itself to an all-comedy line-up, Comedy Central has had success picking up shows too controversial for mainstream television, such as South Park, while remaining part of the Viacom Conglomerate (ATI, 22). Receiving almost constant criticism from parental groups, Comedy Central has unique promotion strategy; the channel markets itself as mature, vulgar, and provocative, which has stirred interest and excitement by its main demographic, the sought over 18-49 year old males (Middlebury). Comedy Central has been an outlet that doesn’t rely of mass-demographics and broad appeal, and is willing to try new, incendiary ideas, and therefore, often presents shows that are barely edited. While content presented on Comedy Central is too edgy for some, Comedy Central pushes the boundaries on controversial content to capture its target audience (Szalai). Initially created by Time Warner under the name, “The Comedy Channel”, Comedy Central has undergone many changes in its twenty-one year history. In an effort to compete with The Comedy Channel, Viacom founded Ha!, which focused mostly on syndicated comedy shows, which Viacom already owned licenses from one of its other channels, Nick at Nite, as well as original comedy skits and stand-up performances. Through a partnership, Time Warner and Viacom combined their channels to create CTV: The Comedy Network. The name was changed shortly after to Comedy Central in an effort to avoid legal battles with a Canadian Network also using the “CTV” abbreviation (Reuters). In 2003, Viacom purchased Time Warner’s stake in the channel to gain sole ownership of the channel (Comedy Central Website)(Reuters). Currently Comedy Central is owned by Viacom through it’s MTV Networks Division, a subsidiary company of Viacom which runs many channels including: MTV, Comedy Central, Spike, Nickelodeon, and TV Land. Viacom’s ownership is unique, as Viacom owns Comedy Central, a channel with barely edited, mature content, under the same company that creates many shows catering to children and pre-teens. Unlinked to the MTV brand through use of a different logo, Viacom’s MTV Networks has managed to create and operate a channel that captures a heavily targeted niche audience while not damaging the reputation of their company as a whole. With the separate networks, each with their own target audience, Comedy Central helped Viacom reach its goal of being a conglomerate that could “serve audiences in almost every major demographic group”(ATI, 23). While Comedy Central is different from many of the other MTV Network channels, it helps them reach additional audiences by providing programming for a demographic they could not reach before. Aside from its controversial programming, Comedy Central has also developed itself into one of the only channels on network television dedicated to comedy. Airing both original content and syndicated shows, the channel offers everything from modern animated comedies to reruns of classic Nick at Nite comedies to live comedy roasts of celebrities. Comedy Central also has the licensing rights of many old shows, which were controversial at the time and intended for “Nick at Nite”(Carter). By moving these programs off their channels targeted for younger demographics, Viacom keeps it’s image clean and recycles old shows without worrying about the mature content reaching unintended viewers. With it’s position as the hub of Comedy on television Comedy Central has recently evolved into also working on film productions and different types of comedy such as skit shows, stand-up shows, and daily shows, allowing for a diverse mix of different types of comedy on the channel (Comedy Central Website). While some disagree with the controversial programming that Comedy Central exhibits, this...
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