Critical Ideas in Television Studies

By John Corner | Go to book overview

11
Television 2000:
The Terms of
Transformation

As I finish this book, television in Britain is fully within a period of radical change, the direction and consequences of which cannot yet confidently be forecast. I remarked in Chapter 2 how some aspects of the change are nationally originated while others are the reflection of international developments. Quite often, national and international factors are combining to create new horizons of policy and new corporate strategies. Only some fifty years old in general application, television has become the world's most significant cultural technology, exerting a profound shaping effect on the nature of everyday modernity. Although its short history has been marked, internationally, by regular technological advances and revisions of its economic and social framing (to regulate its influence, to harness its power, to increase its profitability) it is now possible to see the steady emergence, underneath the local variations, of a new international model and indeed, less directly, a new social and cultural profile for television. This is a model born of many elements, but at the most general infra-structural level it is the combined product of an applied technological development, the new deregulatory energies of the telecommunications market in a global phase of capital accumulation and a hesitancy, in some countries a crisis, in the role of the state as the variously endorsed agency of the public. In essence, the new model takes a technological-given opportunity--expansion and diversification of viewing choice and viewer services--and provides it to consumers within a new regulatory and corporate framework.

The new model is mostly to be found in combination with residual or still dominant elements of national development and is at various stages of ascendancy and rate of advance in different countries. The movement is not towards some final homogeneity (global television, for better or worse) but towards a new and deep level of interconnection and interpenetration across variant national and area systems, affecting some dimensions of television immediately and directly, others more slowly and only through an indirect or rebound process. The new model has a much more aggressively commercial approach than many previous national televisions. Certainly, the British will experience it with more sense of novelty than viewers in North America, but it is not simply the global exportation of an established American system. However, like that system it is grounded in the delivery of television

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