Ethnic Minorities and the Media: Changing Cultural Boundaries

By Simon Cottle | Go to book overview

6
A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE: MAKING
ETHNIC MINORITY TELEVISION
Simon Cottle
Introduction
There is more to British television than the problem-oriented, racializing discourses of news, or the stereotypical and simplified characterizations of popular entertainment forms identified by research (and reviewed in Chapter 1). Given the historically embedded nature of the mass media, as well as its changing relationship to the surrounding play of social and cultural power, the nature of its ‘representations’ can change through time and these often exhibit internal complexity. Today, as in the past, British broadcasting literally and institutionally ‘mediates’ the politics of ‘race’, ethnicity and cultural identity and gives expression, albeit in unequal ways, to this contested field. Across the years ‘race’ has variously been constructed and/or challenged in terms of ‘assimilationist’, ‘integrationist’, ‘pluralist’, ‘multiculturalist’ and ‘anti-racist’ positions and agendas, with further recent infusions from varieties of ‘feminism’, ideas of ‘new ethnicities’ and ‘the end of the essential black subject’ (Hall 1988) – all pointing to a surrounding field as contested as ever.Broadcasting itself, of course, is not historically static nor institutionally fixed but subject to sometimes powerful forces of change. Across the 1990s, for example, the British television industry was shaped by a combination of three such forces:
1. Political deregulation, which was principally embodied in the 1990 British Broadcasting Act that released commercial operators from former public service obligations, exposed the British Broadcasting Corporation

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