Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Guest Paper: 'Invisible Television'

In the final guest paper in the Cultural Studies Research Group series for the current academic year, Dr Brett Mills (Senior Lecturer in Film and Television Studies, University of East Anglia) talks about 'Invisible Television: The Programmes No-one Talks About Though Lots of People Watch Them'. 

In his paper, Brett focuses on how There exists a disparity between the programmes that get repeatedly discussed and written about in television studies, and the programmes watched by the largest audiences. This paper argues that there is, as a consequence, invisible television. Or, more accurately, it argues there is television invisible to the academy. Through quantitative analysis of ratings and publications, the paper demonstrates this disparity. It then goes on to explore the reasons for its existence and demonstrates why it should be a matter of concern for us all.

The event takes place on from 4.00-5.30 pm on Wednesday 5th May in GEE019, Clifton Campus. Everyone welcome. For further information, please email Joanne Hollows.

(Photo credit: sermoa. Permissions.)

Friday, 16 April 2010

A Genealogy of Broadcasting Policy in the UK

Simon Dawes, a research student in our team and Editorial Assistant for Theory, Culture and Society and Body and Society, explains the key ideas underpinning his current research on broadcasting policy.

I’m working on a genealogy of broadcasting policy in the UK, looking specifically at the shifts in how the public have been constructed over time. This is set in the context of claims that broadcasting was regulated in terms of a public service ethos from the 1920s until the 1970s/1980s, since when it has been regulated as a market. A concomitant shift in the construction of the public from citizens to consumers accompanies these claims.

In research so far undertaken, I’ve used critical discourse analysis (CDA) to demonstrate the relationship between citizen- and consumer- signifiers in the Communications White Paper 2000 (the text that established the creation of Ofcom). My study showed that in addition to the predictable preference for the term ‘consumer’, there was an ambiguous distinction between citizen- and consumer- issues and a contradictory usage of the two terms. Consequently, emphasis was placed upon the collective agency of consumers, while the citizen was reconstructed as a passive and vulnerable individual. Further, the privatisation of public interest and the economisation of public service that I detected in the discourse led me to concur with the Habermasian critique of the depoliticisation of the public sphere. These preferences, ambiguities and contradictions have consequences for how Ofcom regulates the communications industries, and identifying them helps us understand how they will decide on the future of public service broadcasting in the UK. You can see an article I wrote on this research here.

My thesis will offer a discursive history of broadcasting policy by extending this analysis to a range of committee reports, regulators’ reviews, government white papers, bills and acts that have been written in the UK since the 1920s. In the work I’m currently undertaking, I’m beginning to question the epistemological assumptions behind the theories and methodologies I’ve been using. Methodologically, I’m looking to link CDA with a more Foucauldian approach to discourse analysis, while in terms of theory I’m concentrating on recent problematisations of the public sphere concept. Once I’ve cleared all that up, it’ll be back to the archive for some more analysis.