Ferrell Lowe, M. Gregory and Christian S. Nissen (Eds.). Small among Giants: Television Broadcasting in Smaller Countries

By Way, Maria | Communication Research Trends, June 2012 | Go to article overview

Ferrell Lowe, M. Gregory and Christian S. Nissen (Eds.). Small among Giants: Television Broadcasting in Smaller Countries


Way, Maria, Communication Research Trends


Ferrell Lowe, M. Gregory and Christian S. Nissen (Eds.). Small Among Giants: Television Broadcasting in Smaller Countries. Goteborg, Sweden: Nordicom/ University of Gothenburg, 2011. Pp. 231. ISBN: 97891-86523-16-9 (paper). SEK 250, 28[euro].

This book results from a conference organized by the BBC in September 2007. In consequence, the chapters come from a variety of broadcasters, policy makers, and researchers from the United Kingdom and elsewhere who attended the Repositioning Public Service Broadcasting: The BBC Charter Renewal and its Global Aftermath conference.

In their preface, Lowe and Nissen note that the BBC has been the organization to whom other broadcasters turn when considering the design of regulation or industry structure. They underline that it has long been the case that, with no query, big countries and markets are turned to by smaller ones when they are looking for models, perhaps particularly public service broadcasting ones, for their own country. The editors here ask whether it is possible that a country with a few million people and therefore a low total income and a GDP that is half or less of a big country's, to have the same or similar possibilities or needs (p. 7). This is a very valid question. The authors contend (p. 8) that it is increasingly the case that the models of large markets/countries are being stipulated as the norm in all countries. The research project of which this book is representative proves that there are certain factors that "inscribe the character of a media system in a particular socially and historically situated context" (p. 9). Amongst these factors are population and economy, language and the operations of transnational media companies. In this field, size does matter and using Robert Picard's chapter, included here, Lowe and Nissen take a figure of a population of above 20 million as the benchmark of just what it is that constitutes a "big country." This figure concurs with some European Commission analysis, published in 2009. They add that although they have chosen countries as units for their analyses, there are exceptions

While the reader may here be querying why television is being considered at a time when many think television is "old hat," the editors note that what constitutes the notion "broadcasting" will vary according to the personal experience of whosoever it is that is discussing it. The experience of writers may be limited to one society or another also. They also acknowledge that new media is not so new now and that radio and other electronic media are included in analyses where this helps to clarify an argument (p. 13). It is hoped that by focusing on issues rather than on the countries involved the reader will be able to develop a "richer appreciation of nuances and with potentially higher degrees of generalization" (p. 14).

A variety of topics are addressed here, including the market's character as a context of society; the availability of resources and financial conditions; the supranational, national, and regional interests with which national systems have to contend; the ways in which the content of broadcasting is bought or produced; policy and regulation; and the structures and dynamics of the market system in which broadcasting occurs. There are two resultant major and overarching questions:

* How does a country remain in control of its own audiovisual destiny, and

* How does it deal with challenges brought on by external media influence? (p. 15)

The editors and contributors did not wish to be partisan in relation to public service broadcasting, despite the fact that many contributors work specifically in this area, and believe that their deliberations are neither for nor against the concept that we call public service broadcasting. Many contributors are very well-known in this particular academic field.

The first chapter is written by the editors and Christian Edelvold Berg.

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