Television History New Media environment

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Television History

US networks face new competition

  • Prime Time Access Rule (PTAR, 1975) limits the amount of time a local affiliate can broadcast programming provided by the network.

  • Home Box Office (HBO): a premium cable television network with headquarters in New York City

  • Networks' share of the audience declined throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

  • A major change of leadership in the three old Networks in the 1980s

  • Ted Turner launches CNN and 24-hour television news in 1980

  • Robert Murdock launches Fox Network in 1986

Satellite technology changes worldviews and challenges PBS

  • Geostationary satellites together with cable technology radically change the amount of potential channels

  • Cable launched in Britain in 1983. The new services was to be supplementary to the existing BBC & ITV service

  • Most people turn out to be were happy with the existing four channels - possibly because VCR offered sufficient alternatives

  • Rupert Murdoch’s News International launches Sky Channel in 1981

  • An attempt to create a competitor by granting franchise to British Satellite Broadcasting (BSB) collapses by 1990

  • Sky absorbed BSB resulting in British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB), a five channel service which began in April 1991

  • IBA tried to prevent this by revoking BSB licence and ordered broadcasting to be suspended by the end of 1992. The new company simply refused to obey as it was effectively beyond IBA control

  • Satellite operations are transnational business.

Format trade

  • No international legal basis but generally respected - except in China

  • Packets include use of title, set designs, PR & auxilliary material, ratings etc.

  • Format Recognition and Protection Association (FRAPA) founded in London in 2000

TV and the internet

  • Many popular series have internet sites which are either producer based or which have grown from private initiative: Xena: Warrior Princess, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, My So-Called Life

  • At times even screenwriters have participated in discussing the themes and undertones of the series

  • Fans have sometimes succeeded in ensuring the continuation of a series

  • Sites have also been used to distribute pirate material

  • Programmes and sites may interact with one another just like films and videogames.

PBS – traditional justifications that remain

  • Commitment to universal service

  • Nurturing of diversity

  • Securing representative character of content in political, social and cultural terms

  • Guaranteeing democratic accountability

  • Adhering to non-profit goals → dependence on some form of public financing

  • “A public service remit aimed at protecting moral values, cultural traditions, pluralism and democracy”

  • Main source: Lowe & Bardoel (eds): From Public

  • Service Broadcasting to Public Service media

PBS – new justifications

  • Convergence, globalization and digitalization legitimate the social importance of PSM

  • Vertical and horizontal integration leads into prohibitive costs and thus narrowing of choice

  • Synergy of economies of scale reduce market competition and override domestic media policy objectives

  • PSM must operate on a sufficiently large scale to insure quality and competitiveness

  • The need to create social cohesion in order to counter cultural and social fragmentation

  • Main source: Lowe & Bardoel (eds): From Public

  • Service Broadcasting to Public Service media

Arguments against PBS/PMS

  • PBS ethos is based on value judgements based on traditional taste and cultural values that are not self-evidently valid

  • No forms or contents are more valid than others → no justification for a privileged position

  • Spectators as consumers with their free choices are the only relevant arbiters of value

  • People should only pay for what they actually use

  • TV production just like any other form of enterprise should be open to free competition

  • Main source: Lowe & Bardoel (eds): From Public

  • Service Broadcasting to Public Service media

Challenges for PSB - or PSM in the new media environment

  • From supply orientated to demand orientated content provision

  • From providing to audiences to interacting with users

  • From products to processes

  • PSM must legitimate itself more explicitly than PSB in the past

  • Public value test:

  • Linear viewing habits have decreased → multichannel platforms with a public service ethos

  • New media supplement rather than replace existing media – each medium occupies its own niche in the social practices of everyday life

  • Main source: Lowe & Bardoel (eds): From Public

  • Service Broadcasting to Public Service media

Television history in a nutshell (Ellis)

  • Era of scarcity

  • Era of availability

  • Era of plenty

  • Change fatigue: it is tiring to have to choose

  • all the time. One only ends up feeling one

  • never has enough time

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