Difference Between Broadcasting and Narrowcasting

The difference between broadcasting and narrowcasting is that broadcasting involve the distribution of audio or video content to a dispersed audience via any electronic mass communications medium, but typically one using the electromagnetic spectrum (radio waves), in a one-to-many model. While narrowcasting involve targeting media messages at specific segments of the public defined by values, preferences or demographic attributes.

What is Broadcasting?

Broadcasting is defined as the transmission of electromagnetic energy intended to be received by the public.  Broadcasting is the sending of messages using the medium of radio or television with no technical control over who receives them. That is, anyone with an appropriate receiver radio or television set and who is within the transmitter range can receive the messages.

Broadcasting is explained as the sending of messages via the airwaves to the public comprising different types of people (i.e. mass heterogeneous audience) to be received.

Broadcasting has a major objective and this objective is to offer the audience a shared and adequate access to information as well as to meet the communication needs of the society.

The two types of broadcast media are video and audio. Video uses images and is popular means of communicating on television and the internet. Audio is a verbal account and is used on radio, television, and the internet.

What is Known as Narrowcasting?

Narrowcasting is the opposite of broadcasting. It is the sending of messages to distant but defined receivers such as cable, CCTV (closed circuit television), DSTV (direct satellite television with channels such as CNN, Africa Magic, National Geographic, History, etc.) or video.

In other words, it is the sending of messages to an audience which is restricted by demand or interest rather than by technical capability i.e. just having a radio or television set and tuning into it.

In narrowcasting what one watches is specifically desired and usually paid for in order to have access e.g. going to the cinema to watch a film or buying a video compact disk (CD) to watch a show at home. The narrowcast audience is smaller and more demographically homogeneous (similar) because it is defined by interest whereas the broadcast audience is large, heterogeneous (mixed) and scattered.

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