Journal article
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This article reports on the integration of Twitter messages into the live television broadcast of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) weekly public affairs discussion program, Q&A. The program first went to air in May 2008; Twitter integration began two years later. Twitter integration is an evolving example of ‘participation television’, but not one that involves the kind of remote-control/set-top-box interactivity that digital television promised. Q&A integrates broadcast and online content in a way the program makers thought would serve the animating purpose of the television program: to increase public engagement in politics. It is an attempt to use the internet to make television better rather than to concede its eclipse, by marrying brief fragments of online speech with the one-way, single-channel authority of a television program broadcast live across a nation by a public service broadcaster. The research draws on data about Twitter use supplied by the ABC and its contractor TweeVee TV, OzTAM television ratings data, interviews and email correspondence with ABC staff and others conducted by the two authors between June and October 2011, and observations on the making of the episode of the show in Sydney on 29 May 2011.

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