In This Article American Television Industry

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Reference Works
  • Scholarly Journals
  • Trade Publications
  • Archives
  • Participant Accounts
  • Production and Authorship Studies
  • Regulation and Policy
  • Genre
  • Audiences and Reception
  • International Industries and Transnational Exchange
  • Digital Convergence

Cinema and Media Studies American Television Industry
by
Michele Hilmes
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 June 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791286-0178

Introduction

Critical exploration of the broadcasting industry began in the 1920s, during the period of network radio. As with film, the industry (and its audiences) became an object of study before its texts, styles, and genres did—manifesting the anxieties many felt over the 20th century’s “industrialization of culture” with its overturning of traditional hierarchies. Not until the 1980s did critical/cultural study of the television industry emerge from the social scientific and economic research that had predominated earlier. During the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, the period of television’s prehistory in radio, broadcasting-industry structures were developed, national networks were established, program styles and genres emerged, and audiences formed around the radio set in the home. Then, in the 1950s, radio’s structures met film’s visuality in television, accelerating the ever-growing convergence of Hollywood and broadcasting. By the 1980s, American television dominated the global marketplace and continues to do so in the digital era, though transnational exchange has become far more complex. The emphasis here on American broadcasting reflects the fact that radio and television, more than other media, developed in highly national contexts. Some work on other national and regional traditions is included, particularly those that have intersected in important ways with the development of American television. Besides academic scholarship, this bibliography includes key sources produced by the industry itself: trade journals; archives of major institutions, producers, and artists; and participant/observer accounts.

General Overviews

The titles in this section survey American and other national television industries. Several are part of the British Film Institute’s International Screen Industries series: Curtin and Shattuc 2009; Kraidy and Khalil 2010; and Iosifidis, et al. 2008 provide in-depth overviews on American, Arab, and European television, respectively. Holt and Perren 2009, an edited volume, is the first to bring together history, theory, and methods of industry study. Gomery and Hockley 2006 assembles over sixty very short, original essays mostly contemplating the United States and the United Kingdom. Smith and Paterson 1998, another edited volume, reaches around the world in short chapters focusing on single nations or regions, taking a historical approach.

  • Curtin, Michael, and Jane Shattuc. The American Television Industry. Basingstroke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

    E-mail Citation »

    A solid and engaging overview of current industry trends and issues, by two well-established scholars.

    Find this resource:

    • Gomery, Douglas, and Luke Hockley, eds. Television Industries. London: British Film Institute, 2006.

      E-mail Citation »

      Part of the British Film Institute’s (BFI) Television Book series. With over sixty short articles and case studies, this makes an accessible introduction for undergraduates.

      Find this resource:

      • Holt, Jennifer, and Alisa Perren, eds. Media Industries: History, Theory, and Method. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.

        E-mail Citation »

        This is one of the few volumes to attempt to historicize and theorize the study of media industries and to discuss methodology.

        Find this resource:

        • Iosifidis, Petros, Jeannette Steemers, and Mark Wheeler. European Television Industry. London: British Film Institute, 2008.

          E-mail Citation »

          Concentrates on the historical, economic, cultural, technological, and political factors behind changes in television across Europe.

          Find this resource:

          • Kraidy, Marwan, and Joe F. Khalil. Arab Television Industries. London: British Film Institute, 2010.

            E-mail Citation »

            A broad overview of contemporary trends across a diverse region. Based on original interviews with current practitioners, a valuable aspect.

            Find this resource:

            • Smith, Anthony, and Richard Paterson, eds. Television: An International History. 2d ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

              E-mail Citation »

              Describes the development of television around the world, from its technical conception in the 19th century to the present.

              Find this resource:

              Reference Works

              Encyclopedias on radio and television, sponsored by the Museum of Broadcast Communications and edited by two of the most renowned broadcasting scholars in the country (Newcomb 1997 and Sterling 2004), form the backbone of this category. The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) gives detailed credit information for an amazing range of programs and so must be considered a crucial research source. Others, such as Castleman and Podrazik 1984 and Summers 1971, are compilations of scheduling information often vital to industry analysis. American Broadcasting (Lichty and Topping 1975) features a mixture of academic and primary print sources and is particularly strong on regulatory history.

              • Castleman, Harry, and Walter J. Podrazik. The TV Schedule Book: Four Decades of Network Programming from Sign-On to Sign-Off. New York: McGraw Hill, 1984.

                E-mail Citation »

                Lays out in grid form the major network schedules from 1947 until 1984, with short introductions to each decade that discuss the major innovations and highlights of each period.

                Find this resource:

                • Internet Movie Database.

                  E-mail Citation »

                  Despite its name, IMDB covers television programs and even some radio programs, offering essential information such as production credits and dates of broadcasts and allowing searches by program title, names of individuals, and production companies. Not completely reliable, but a good place to start.

                  Find this resource:

                  • Lichty, Lawrence Wilson, and Malachi C. Topping, eds. American Broadcasting: A Sourcebook on the History of Radio and Television. New York: Hastings House, 1975.

                    E-mail Citation »

                    A collection both of scholarly and popular articles and other materials, organized into topics: technical, stations, networks, economics, employment, programming, audiences, and regulation.

                    Find this resource:

                    • Newcomb, Horace, ed. Encyclopedia of Television. 3 vols. Chicago: Fitzroy-Dearborn, 1997.

                      E-mail Citation »

                      The first edition of this multivolume work is available online. The second edition, expanded, is available only in hardcover. An excellent and comprehensive overview of the medium, also supplying reliable filmographies and bibliographies.

                      Find this resource:

                      • Sterling, Christopher H., ed. Encyclopedia of Radio. 3 vols. New York: Fitzroy-Dearborn, 2004.

                        E-mail Citation »

                        A major intervention into radio study, this encyclopedia proffers original scholarship from internationally recognized scholars across a wide spectrum of topics, along with valuable bibliographies for each entry.

                        Find this resource:

                        • Summers, Harrison B. A Thirty-Year History of Programs Carried on National Radio Networks in the United States, 1926–1956. NY: Arno, 1971.

                          E-mail Citation »

                          Thank you, Harrison B. Summers, for compiling this information, which is impossible to obtain anywhere else. Simply a list of radio programs broadcast on the major networks by year, showing their times on the schedule, their sponsors, and their length of run. Originally published in 1958.

                          Find this resource:

                          Scholarly Journals

                          There is no scholarly journal that focuses entirely on the television industry. Most of the journals listed below publish a wide variety of articles, many of which include analysis of industry context even when looking at textual or audience issues; this is particularly true of Critical Studies in Television, FlowTV, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, New Review of Film & Television Studies, and Television & New Media. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media and Journal of Film and Video publish primarily humanities-oriented work, but with some social-science-based articles. New Review of Film and Television Studies declares itself to publish only critical humanities research.

                          • Critical Studies in Television.

                            E-mail Citation »

                            A biannual journal focusing on “fictions made for the small screen,” founded in 2006. Strong on UK, US, and European television. Part of a useful website that offers teaching and learning resources for students and scholars of television.

                            Find this resource:

                            • FlowTV.org.

                              E-mail Citation »

                              The first online journal devoted to television, it frequently comments on industry issues. Shorter articles, by a wide variety of television scholars, are replete with images and clips. Accessible to undergraduates.

                              Find this resource:

                              • Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television.

                                E-mail Citation »

                                The journal of the International Association for Media and History, the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television often explores the industry in its historical and cultural context and considers the role that media play both in history and in historiography. Peer reviewed. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

                                Find this resource:

                                • Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media.

                                  E-mail Citation »

                                  Published quarterly for the Broadcast Education Association. Covers a range of broadcast media from a variety of perspectives. Peer reviewed. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

                                  Find this resource:

                                  • Journal of Film and Video.

                                    E-mail Citation »

                                    The quarterly publication of the University Film and Video Association. Includes industry scholarship amidst a range of focus both on film and television, from a variety of methodological perspectives. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

                                    Find this resource:

                                    • New Review of Film and Television Studies.

                                      E-mail Citation »

                                      Published quarterly. More emphasis on film than on television, and primary focus on programs brings in industry as a secondary, but often crucial, topic. Peer reviewed. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

                                      Find this resource:

                                      • Television & New Media.

                                        E-mail Citation »

                                        Published bimonthly and focused on contemporary media, with an emphasis on critical policy and industry issues. Peer reviewed. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

                                        Find this resource:

                                        Trade Publications

                                        Like most industries, broadcasting has its own lively sphere of trade-oriented publications. Broadcasting and Cable and Variety have published continuously since the early decades of the 20th century and are essential sources for the historian as well as the contemporary industry scholar. Radio Broadcast and Sponsor are now defunct but important historically. Current is the only one to focus on the nonprofit sector. Television Quarterly marks the effort of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences to reflect on the industry it represents.

                                        • Broadcasting and Cable.

                                          E-mail Citation »

                                          The bible of the broadcasting industry, published under various names since 1936. Weekly.

                                          Find this resource:

                                          • Current.

                                            E-mail Citation »

                                            Public radio and television’s newspaper for thirty years. Biweekly.

                                            Find this resource:

                                            • Radio Broadcast.

                                              E-mail Citation »

                                              The earliest journal to cover technical and industrial developments in radio, 1922 to 1930.

                                              Find this resource:

                                              • Sponsor.

                                                E-mail Citation »

                                                Trade journal for broadcast sponsors and advertising agencies during television’s crucial early years, 1946–1958. Biweekly.

                                                Find this resource:

                                                • Television Quarterly.

                                                  E-mail Citation »

                                                  The journal of the National Television Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1962–present. Longer, more-reflective articles, both on industry and programs.

                                                  Find this resource:

                                                  • Variety.

                                                    E-mail Citation »

                                                    The show business bible since 1905. Covers radio and television along with film, music, theater, etc.

                                                    Find this resource:

                                                    Archives

                                                    Because broadcasting is organized nationally, nearly every nation holds archives for its public radio and television services. In the United States, records are more scattered. Major collections both of recorded and written materials are held by the Library of Congress, the Wisconsin Historical Society and University of Wisconsin–Madison, and the Library of American Broadcasting (LAB) and National Public Broadcasting Archives (NPBA) at the University of Maryland. The Performing Arts Special Collections (at the University of California at Los Angeles) and the Museum of Broadcast Communications (MBC) and Paley Center for Media collections consist primarily of audio/visual recordings. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Written Archives and CBC (Library and Archives Canada) archives include not only records from those countries but also much about US broadcasting, given the history of influence and exchange between them.

                                                    • British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Written Archives. Caversham Park, UK.

                                                      E-mail Citation »

                                                      Comprehensive and impeccably organized, but no online finding aid (detailed description of a collection holdings).

                                                      Find this resource:

                                                      • Library of American Broadcasting (LAB). College Park, MD.

                                                        E-mail Citation »

                                                        University of Maryland Libraries acquired the Broadcast Pioneers Collection in 1984 and has added much to it since. It holds a wide-ranging collection of audio and video recordings, books, pamphlets, periodicals, personal collections, oral histories, photographs, papers, and scripts.

                                                        Find this resource:

                                                        • Library and Archives Canada. Ottawa, ON.

                                                          E-mail Citation »

                                                          Contains the records of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), both in English and French, as well as many significant companies, individuals, and productions.

                                                          Find this resource:

                                                          • Library of Congress. Washington, DC

                                                            E-mail Citation »

                                                            A vast assembly of records relating to the broadcasting industry: print, film, video, and audio, not to mention rare books and periodicals. Of particular interest are collections donated by NBC, radio station WOR, and public television station WNYC.

                                                            Find this resource:

                                                            • Museum of Broadcast Communications (MBC). Chicago.

                                                              E-mail Citation »

                                                              A broad collection of radio and television programs, searchable online.

                                                              Find this resource:

                                                              • National Public Broadcasting Archives (NPBA). College Park, MD.

                                                                E-mail Citation »

                                                                Housed together with the Library of American Broadcasting, the archives provide an extensive and well-indexed collection of papers and publications on radio and television’s nonprofit sector.

                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                • Paley Center for Media. New York and Los Angeles.

                                                                  E-mail Citation »

                                                                  Two centers, one on each coast. The Paley Center puts on seminars and exhibits but has an extensive collection of radio and TV programs, as well as commercials.

                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                  • Performing Arts Special Collections. University of California, Los Angeles.

                                                                    E-mail Citation »

                                                                    Though UCLA’s Film and Television Archive is the second-largest moving-image archive in the United States, it does not include industry records. They are held in the Performing Arts archival collection.

                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                    • Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS) / Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research (WCFTR). Madison, WI.

                                                                      E-mail Citation »

                                                                      The University of Wisconsin–Madison and the WHS began collecting film, radio, and television materials in 1958. Collections integrate visual/audio and written materials. Most notable are the enormous NBC and NET collections. Online finding aids.

                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                      Participant Accounts

                                                                      The television industry always produces a large number of books, often aimed at the professional or popular market and written by or about industry participants; these include biographies, autobiographies, recollections, and journalistic accounts. It is not always the most prominent person who produces the best insights. Here, William Paley (Smith 1990), David Sarnoff (Lyons 1966), Edward R. Murrow (Persico 1988), and Fred Friendly (Friendly 1967) are well-known figures, but popular writers and reporters such as Ken Auletta (Auletta 1992), Les Brown (Brown 1973), Gleason Archer (Archer 1939), and Bill Carter (Carter 2006) provide acute observations from an outsider perspective.

                                                                      • Archer, Gleason. Big Business and Radio. New York: American Historical Company, 1939.

                                                                        E-mail Citation »

                                                                        One of the earliest eyewitness accounts of the corporate roots of American broadcasting.

                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                        • Auletta, Ken. Three Blind Mice: How the TV Networks Lost Their Way. New York: Vintage, 1992.

                                                                          E-mail Citation »

                                                                          An industry analyst and writer for the New Yorker magazine, Auletta’s account of the decline of the networks in the face of cable competition in the 1990s makes a compelling read.

                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                          • Brown, Les. Television: The Business behind the Box. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973.

                                                                            E-mail Citation »

                                                                            A highly readable and critical account of network television during its classic period in the 1960s and early 1970s.

                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                            • Carter, Bill. Desperate Networks. New York: Doubleday, 2006.

                                                                              E-mail Citation »

                                                                              The New York Times’ longtime business reporter tells the tale of primetime changes and palace coups in the first decade of the 21st century.

                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                              • Friendly, Fred. Due to Circumstances beyond Our Control. New York: Random House, 1967.

                                                                                E-mail Citation »

                                                                                Murrow’s producer and CBS executive Friendly dissects 1950s and 1960s network broadcasting with a finely honed scalpel.

                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                • Lyons, Eugene. David Sarnoff: A Biography. New York: Harper & Row, 1966.

                                                                                  E-mail Citation »

                                                                                  Read it as much for the legend as for the facts.

                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                  • Persico, Joseph E. Edward R. Murrow: An American Original. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1988.

                                                                                    E-mail Citation »

                                                                                    Arguably the best of several biographies of Murrow, whose career spanned radio and television, war and peace, and the commercial and the public sector—American television’s most famous public figure.

                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                    • Smith, Sally Bedell. In All His Glory: The Life of William S. Paley, the Legendary Tycoon and His Brilliant Circle. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990.

                                                                                      E-mail Citation »

                                                                                      A respectful but detailed biography of the founder and long-time head of CBS.

                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                      Textbooks

                                                                                      There are many “how-to” textbooks in the television production and industry field. The selections here focus on critical studies and comprehensive overviews. Croteau and Hoynes 2005, as well as Hesmondhalgh 2007, focuses on the contemporary industry; Hilmes 2009 and Sterling and Kitross 2002 provide a historical approach, up to the present.

                                                                                      • Croteau, David R., and William D. Hoynes. The Business of Media: Corporate Media and the Public Interest. 2d ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge, 2005.

                                                                                        E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        A highly critical analysis of how contemporary media industries work, including television.

                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                        • Hesmondhalgh, Desmond. The Cultural Industries. 2d ed. London: SAGE, 2007.

                                                                                          E-mail Citation »

                                                                                          Written from a perspective that integrates cultural studies and political-economy analysis; strong on analysis and policy of the contemporary scene, primarily in the United Kingdom but with relevance for the United States.

                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                          • Hilmes, Michele. Only Connect: A Cultural History of Broadcasting in the United States. 3d ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2009.

                                                                                            E-mail Citation »

                                                                                            A historical overview of the development of the broadcasting industry from the 1920s to the present. Integrates industry, texts, and cultural discourses.

                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                            • Sterling, Christopher H., and John Michael Kitross. Stay Tuned: A History of American Broadcasting. 3d ed. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2002.

                                                                                              E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              An impressively detailed and in-depth study of US broadcasting-industry development, with numerous helpful graphs, statistics, and bibliographies. Very strong on policy.

                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                              History

                                                                                              This selection focuses on books tracing the history of the broadcasting industry, both radio and television, that are significant either for their scope—surveying developments over several decades—or for their focus on major industrial shifts. Barnouw 1966–1970 is the foundational work, covering the 1920s up to the 1970s, while Hilmes 2011 covers US/UK interactions similarly. Hilmes 1997 focuses on US broadcasting’s roots in radio. Anderson 1994 reveals the Hollywood roots of television in the 1950s, while Boddy 1990 takes a close look at debates over television’s introduction. Others narrow in on a sector or aspect of industry history, such as Engelman 1996 and Ouellette 2002 on public broadcasting, Kompare 2005 on recording and syndication, Mullen 2008 on cable television, and Holt 2011 and Lotz 2007 on early-21st-century developments.

                                                                                              • Anderson, Christopher. Hollywood TV: The Studio System in the Fifties. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994.

                                                                                                E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                Analyzes the intersection of the Hollywood film industry with television during the formative decade of the 1950s.

                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                • Barnouw, Erik. A History of Broadcasting in the United States. 3 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 1966–1970.

                                                                                                  E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  A highly readable, anecdotal, and perceptive account from one who participated in the industry he wrote about. Still required reading.

                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                  • Boddy, William. Fifties Television: The Industry and Its Critics. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990.

                                                                                                    E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    An in-depth analysis of television’s founding decade, tracing the conflicts and cultural negotiations that shaped it.

                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                    • Engelman, Ralph. Public Radio and Television in America: A Political History. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 1996.

                                                                                                      E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      Focuses on the political aspects of public radio and TV in the United States, showing its interaction with government and its interventions in American public life.

                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                      • Hilmes, Michele. Radio Voices: American Broadcasting 1922–1952. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997.

                                                                                                        E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        A history of the origins of US broadcasting-industry and program structures from its earliest days to the advent of television.

                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                        • Hilmes, Michele. Network Nations: A Transnational History of British and American Broadcasting. New York: Routledge, 2011.

                                                                                                          E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          Traces the long and influential history of British-US exchange from the 1920s through the 1970s, showing how essential the relationship is to the development of television in both nations; the prehistory of globalization.

                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                          • Holt, Jennifer. Empires of Entertainment: Media Industries and the Politics of Deregulation, 1980–1996. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2011.

                                                                                                            E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            Analyzes the changes that took place across two crucial decades in the evolution of the American media industry.

                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                            • Kompare, Derek. Rerun Nation: How Repeats Invented American Television. New York: Routledge, 2005.

                                                                                                              DOI: 10.4324/9780203337387E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                              A compelling account of a central industry practice, the recording and recycling of programs and the impact on networks, stations, and the cable industry, not to mention television scholarship.

                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                              • Lotz, Amanda D. The Television Will Be Revolutionized. New York: New York University Press, 2007.

                                                                                                                E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                A lively survey of television industry developments during the 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century, into the digital era.

                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                • Mullen, Megan. Television in the Multichannel Age: A Brief History of Cable Television. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008.

                                                                                                                  E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  Focuses on a key aspect of the modern television industry.

                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                  • Ouellette, Laurie. Viewers Like You? How Public TV Failed the People. New York: Columbia University Press, 2002.

                                                                                                                    E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    Combines history and cultural analysis in a bitingly perceptive study that brings a fresh view to public television.

                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                    Critical Analysis and Theory

                                                                                                                    Industry study has been less well theorized than other aspects of media scholarship, but some works have provided essential concepts for thinking about the media industry and its role in society. The advent of mass-produced media, and the popular culture they presented to audiences far outside the social and political elite, produced social anxieties about the erosion of cultural values and the creation of a whole new social sector—media producers—who seemed to wield influence unrestrained by the power hierarchies of an earlier period. Later scholars cast a critical eye at media institutions as they developed into global politico-economic powers; cultural studies intervened to focus attention on the representational politics of texts and the uses made of them by audiences.

                                                                                                                    Early Theory

                                                                                                                    Early theorists, such as in Arnheim 1936, Horkheimer and Adorno 1972, and Innis 1991, grappled with the 20th century’s industrialization of culture and communications.

                                                                                                                    • Arnheim, Rudolf. Radio: An Art of Sound. London: Faber & Faber, 1936.

                                                                                                                      E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      One of the very few theoretical considerations of radio as a medium by this visual-arts scholar, it provides insights about the origins of radio as an industrial and national medium that remain relevant today. Reprinted in 1972 (New York: Da Capo).

                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                      • Horkheimer, Max, and Theodor W. Adorno. Dialectic of Enlightenment. New York: Herder & Herder, 1972.

                                                                                                                        E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        These founders of the Frankfurt School famously critiqued the “culture industry” that they observed during their brief exile in America, deploring the ideological effects of the intersection of commerce and culture and the erosion of the influence of the individual. Originally published in 1944.

                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                        • Innis, Harold A. The Bias of Communication. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991.

                                                                                                                          E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          This teacher of Marshall McLuhan theorized that the structures of communication themselves functioned as organized forms of power that shaped the societies that produced and used them. Originally published in 1951.

                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                          Political Economy

                                                                                                                          Political-economy analysis developed in the 1960s and 1970s, drawing in particular on the Frankfurt School to critique the ideological effects of media on society. Gitlin 1983, a critical ethnography of a television program, and Herman and Chomsky 1988, a classic analysis of news production, illuminate the television industry’s classic network period. Schiller 1969, an early warning of American media’s global impact, resonates today in McChesney 2004, which is a contemporary reworking.

                                                                                                                          • Gitlin, Todd. Inside Prime Time. New York: Pantheon, 1983.

                                                                                                                            E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            Gitlin’s inside observation of the making of a television program provides an insightful and relevant critique to this day.

                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                            • Herman, Edward S., and Noam Chomsky. Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. New York: Pantheon, 1988.

                                                                                                                              E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              Focusing on the news, this influential study laid out the connection between economic and political power in the media, and their capacity to influence the social agenda.

                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                              • McChesney, Robert Waterman. The Problem of the Media: U.S. Communication Politics in the Twenty-First Century. New York: Monthly Review Press, 2004.

                                                                                                                                E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                One of the most lively critics of the media in the early 21st century, McChesney extends his sharp critique of the politics of media organizations into the digital era.

                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                • Schiller, Herbert I. Mass Communications and American Empire. New York: A. M. Kelley, 1969.

                                                                                                                                  E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  An early shot fired across the bow to warn of American global media influence.

                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                  Cultural Studies

                                                                                                                                  Cultural studies arose in the 1980s, no less critical in its orientation but turning to the politics of race, gender, class, and sexuality, and focusing on an integrated model of analysis that combines consideration of industry with texts, audiences, and social context. Williams 1975 opened up the territory for later crucial interventions in Hall 1980 and Fiske 1987. D’Acci 1994 focuses on gender and sexuality, and Gray 1995 focuses on race, building on culture studies’ emphasis on discourse analysis and identity.

                                                                                                                                  • D’Acci, Julie. Defining Women: Television and the Case of Cagney and Lacey. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.

                                                                                                                                    E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    Using the show Cagney and Lacey as a case study, D’Acci combines primary industry research with audience study, textual analysis, and feminist theory to produce a groundbreaking work on television’s negotiation of gender.

                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                    • Fiske, John. Television Culture. New York: Methuen, 1987.

                                                                                                                                      E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      One of the earliest accessible works to integrate economic and textual analysis within a cultural-studies framework, it helped to move television study out of sociology departments and into the humanities.

                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                      • Gray, Herman. Watching Race: Television and the Struggle for “Blackness.” Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995.

                                                                                                                                        E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                        A convincing and influential application of critical race theory to the development of the television industry in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                        • Hall, Stuart. “Encoding/Decoding.” In Culture, Media, Language. Edited by Stuart Hall, Dorothy Hobson, Andrew Lowe, and Paul Willis, 128–138. London: Hutchinson, 1980.

                                                                                                                                          E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                          The field-defining essay by the former director of the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Culture and leading cultural theorist.

                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                          • Williams, Raymond. Television: Technology and Cultural Form. New York: Schocken, 1975.

                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.4324/9780203450277E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                            The “father of cultural studies,” Williams’s New Left–inflected cultural history moved the study of television away from its focus on technological determinism toward more-complex analyses of its cultural role.

                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                            Production and Authorship Studies

                                                                                                                                            Industry study received a new theorization in the 1990s that extended the concept of authorship beyond the writer/producer/director model and into the below-the-line professions. These theories build on the primary documentary work done by scholars such as the authors of Newcomb and Alley 1983 and Thompson and Burns 1990. John Caldwell (Caldwell 2008), Vicki Mayer (Mayer 2011; Mayer, et al. 2009), and Desmond Hesmondhalgh (Hesmondhalgh and Baker 2011) are the leaders in this new production-studies approach. Meanwhile, Bignell and O’Day 2004 is a good example of a new series that takes traditional authorship seriously, detailing and theorizing the complexities of small-screen production. Caves 2002 links television to the other creative arts.

                                                                                                                                            • Bignell, Jonathan, and Andrew O’Day. Terry Nation. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2004.

                                                                                                                                              E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                              Bignell and O’Day produce a richly detailed study about the author of the Doctor Who series. Part of a Manchester University Press series on British television authors that critically interrogates the notion of television authorship.

                                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                              • Caldwell, John Thornton. Production Culture: Industrial Reflexivity and Critical Practice in Film and Television. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008.

                                                                                                                                                E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                Theorizes and closely observes the various kinds of authorship and creativity that go into film and television production, particularly from “below the line” perspectives not usually taken into account.

                                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                • Caves, Richard. Creative Industries: Contracts between Art and Commerce. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002.

                                                                                                                                                  E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                  Links the economics and culture of media with the other creative arts such as film, music, theater, and book publishing to create a rich matrix of intersecting concerns.

                                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                  • Hesmondhalgh, Desmond, and Sarah Baker. Creative Labour: Creative Work in Three Cultural Industries. London: Routledge, 2011.

                                                                                                                                                    E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                    Offers a critical approach to cultural production, drawing on political-economy perspectives, but also on cultural studies, sociology, and social theory, to theorize and analyze media both in the United States and the United Kingdom.

                                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                    • Mayer, Vicki A. Below the Line: Producers and Production Studies in the New Television Economy. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011.

                                                                                                                                                      E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                      Mayer extends and expands production studies to include seemingly peripheral producers such as television set assemblers, reality-program casters, and public-access and cable commissioners in the global television context.

                                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                      • Mayer, Vicki A., Miranda J. Banks, and John Thornton Caldwell, eds. Production Studies: Cultural Studies of Media Industries. New York: Routledge, 2009.

                                                                                                                                                        E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        Brings together a work using ethnographic, sociological, critical, material, and political-economic methods to analyze contemporary industrial contexts.

                                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                        • Newcomb, Horace, and Robert S. Alley. The Producer’s Medium: Conversations with Creators of American TV. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983.

                                                                                                                                                          E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          Less theoretical, more anecdotal, but an invaluable collection of well-crafted and well-interpreted interviews with 1980s-era producers, writers, and directors.

                                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                          • Thompson, Robert J., and Gary Burns, eds. Making Television: Authorship and the Production Process. New York: Praeger, 1990.

                                                                                                                                                            E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                            A documentary look at television authorship that probes the relationship among the various authors at work within the institutional, cultural, and economic settings that characterize the television industry.

                                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                            Regulation and Policy

                                                                                                                                                            Policy is central to the television industry and has a literature of its own. Streeter 1996 analyzes early concepts of radio spectrum regulation. Baughman 1985 provides an overview of television’s formative decades, while Classen 2004 focuses on one landmark decision. Fowler and Brenner 1982 lays the groundwork for deregulation in the 1980s, and Aufderheide 1999 addresses the consequences of deregulation a decade later. Hendershot 1998 focuses on the important topic of children and television. Others broaden the focus: Raboy 2002 to the global level, and Suman and Rossman 2000 to forces outside the Beltway.

                                                                                                                                                            • Aufderheide, Patricia. Communications Policy and the Public Interest: The Telecommunications Act of 1996. New York: Guilford, 1999.

                                                                                                                                                              E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                              Dissects and analyzes the origin and impact of the most important recent reformulation of broadcast policy.

                                                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                              • Baughman, James L. Television’s Guardians: The FCC and the Politics of Programming, 1958–1967. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1985.

                                                                                                                                                                E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                A highly readable and insightful overview of the FCC’s relationship with television during a crucial period.

                                                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                • Classen, Steven D. Watching Jim Crow: The Struggles over Mississippi TV, 1955–1969. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004.

                                                                                                                                                                  E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                  Ethnographic groundwork in Mississippi builds the bottom-up story behind the collision of the civil-rights movement and television regulation.

                                                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                  • Fowler, Mark J., and David Brenner. “A Marketplace Approach to Broadcast Regulation.” Texas Law Review 60 (1982): 595–613.

                                                                                                                                                                    E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    The classic declaration of deregulatory principles, written by the chairman of the FCC under Reagan.

                                                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                    • Hendershot, Heather. Saturday Morning Censors: Television Regulation before the V-Chip. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1998.

                                                                                                                                                                      E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                      Covers the important intersection of policy with industry self-censorship and the always-fraught topic of children’s television.

                                                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                      • Raboy, Marc, ed. Global Media Policy in the New Millennium. Luton, UK: University of Luton Press, 2002.

                                                                                                                                                                        E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                        This collection of case studies by well-known policy scholars strongly critiques the prospect of corporatization of media policy in the global era.

                                                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                        • Streeter, Thomas. Selling the Air: A Critique of the Policy of Commercial Broadcasting in the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

                                                                                                                                                                          E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          This highly cerebral rethinking of the foundations of broadcast regulation has had enormous influence on the field of critical policy studies.

                                                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                          • Suman, Michael, and Gabriel Rossman, eds. Advocacy Groups and the Entertainment Industry. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2000.

                                                                                                                                                                            E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                            A collection of articles proceeding from a conference both by scholars and advocacy group representatives, on an important aspect of the television policy apparatus that is rarely recognized.

                                                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                            Genre

                                                                                                                                                                            Genre is a concept used widely in media industry practice and scholarship to describe and categorize television programs. Since the turn of the 21st century, scholars have worked to better conceptualize genre as a process of shifting negotiated understandings shared by networks, producers, publishers, writers, performers, and audiences alike. These works look critically at genre, examining its assumptions and consequences across a range of media forms, historical periods, and textual variations. Mittell 2004 provides a well-theorized reconceptualization of genre, with in-depth case studies, in contrast to the more prevalent approach shown in the edited collections in Creeber 2008, Edgerton and Rose 2008, and Geraghty and Jancovich 2007. Rose 1985 is the classic original study.

                                                                                                                                                                            • Creeber, Glen, ed. The Television Genre Book. London: British Film Institute, 2008.

                                                                                                                                                                              E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                              An edited volume of short articles, focusing both on British and US television, organized into eleven sections that examine drama, soap opera, comedy, news, documentary, reality television, children’s television, animation, prime time, and daytime.

                                                                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                              • Edgerton, Gary R., and Brian Rose, eds. Thinking Outside the Box: A Contemporary Television Genre Reader. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 2008.

                                                                                                                                                                                E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                Brings together significant scholars of television, whose contributions range across genres and national settings.

                                                                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                • Geraghty, Lincoln, and Mark Jancovich, eds. The Shifting Definitions of Genre: Essays on Labeling Films, Television Shows, and Media. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2007.

                                                                                                                                                                                  E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                  Though the primary emphasis is on film, essays include consideration of television and comics as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                  • Mittell, Jason. Genre and Television: From Cop Shows to Cartoons in American Culture. New York: Routledge, 2004.

                                                                                                                                                                                    E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                    The most frequently cited book on television genre today, thanks to its attention to rethinking genre theory in the specific context of television. Ranges across historical periods, focusing on genre as a cultural practice that actively shapes television forms.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                    • Rose, Brian G. TV Genres: A Handbook and Reference Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1985.

                                                                                                                                                                                      E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                      An early compendium of TV genres and their development up to the early 1980s. Covers genres not often included, such as documentary, variety shows, and sports.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                      Audiences and Reception

                                                                                                                                                                                      The study of broadcast audiences has been an industry concern for commercial reasons since the 1920s. Scholarly studies of the audience critique industry methods and augment them with considerations of identities, uses, and reception. Napoli 2003 and Ableman and Atkin 2011 engage directly with methods of industry audience measurement, offering perceptive critiques. Ang 1990 compares commercial and public-service conceptions of audience in the context of national identity, while Joyrich 1996 focuses on gender and class. Means Coleman 1998 hones in on race and the situation comedy, while Seiter 1999 expands reception study to new-media audiences.

                                                                                                                                                                                      • Ableman, Robert, and David J. Atkin. The Televiewing Audience: The Art and Science of Watching TV. 2d ed. New York: Peter Lang, 2011.

                                                                                                                                                                                        E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                        A student-friendly overview of television audience measurement techniques and the issues that concern both scholars and society more generally.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                        • Ang, Ien. Desperately Seeking the Audience. London: Routledge, 1990.

                                                                                                                                                                                          E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                          Groundbreaking analysis of the role of the audience in conceptions of television’s public, comparing commercial and public-service systems and proposing new ways of thinking.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                          • Joyrich, Lynne. Re-viewing Reception: Television, Gender, and Postmodern Culture. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.

                                                                                                                                                                                            E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                            An early contribution to and critique of reception studies, applying cultural and critical theory to the way that audiences of 1980s programs were addressed.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                            • Means Coleman, Robin R. African American Viewers and the Black Situation Comedy: Situating Racial Humor. New York: Garland, 1998.

                                                                                                                                                                                              E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                              Uses interviews with audiences to explore meanings made by the viewers of black situation comedies.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                              • Napoli, Philip M. Audience Economics: Media Institutions and the Audience Marketplace. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.

                                                                                                                                                                                                E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                Uses economic theory to critique industry practices and predict future developments.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                • Seiter, Ellen. Television and New Media Audiences. Oxford: Clarendon, 1999.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Uses ethnographic case studies to investigate the relationship of audiences to television and new media.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                  International Industries and Transnational Exchange

                                                                                                                                                                                                  The US television industry expanded globally in the 1950s and has since become the world’s biggest exporter of programs. Nordenstreng and Varis 1974 was the first report to describe and quantify this global flow; the oft-cited Straubhaar 1991 provided an important new interpretation. Later works, including Chalaby 2005, Havens 2006, Steemers 2004, and Bielby and Harrington 2008 look closely and critically at modern institutions and practices that support this exchange, while Bignell and Fickers 2008 focuses on inter-European exchange.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Bielby, Denise D., and C. Lee Harrington. Global TV: Exporting Television and Culture in the World Market. New York: New York University Press, 2008.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Two cultural sociologists of the media observe the practices and patterns of the global television trade.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Bignell, Jonathan, and Andreas Fickers, eds. A European Television History. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Essays by prominent scholars focus on the development of a range of European industries, providing a highly useful counterbalance to America-centered practices and structures.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Chalaby, Jean K. Transnational Television Worldwide: Towards a New Media Order. London: I. B. Tauris, 2005.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                        A sociologist looks at the development of transnational satellite-television channels and their impact.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Havens, Tim. Global Television Marketplace. London: British Film Institute, 2006.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Examines the way that the industry’s institutional structures guide the marketing of international television exchange.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Nordenstreng, Kaarle, and Tapio Varis. Television Traffic: A One-Way Street? A Survey and Analysis of the International Flow of Television Programme Material. Paris: UNESCO, 1974.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                            The classic study of the first wave of television’s global impact, focusing on the import and export of programming.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Steemers, Jeannette. Selling Television: British Television in the Global Marketplace. London: British Film Institute, 2004.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Highly perceptive analysis of British television export that sheds much light on US practices as the United Kingdom’s largest customer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Straubhaar, Joseph D. “Beyond Media Imperialism: Asymmetrical Interdependence and Cultural Promixity.” Critical Studies in Mass Communication 8.1 (1991): 39–59.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/15295039109366779E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                An often-cited critical revision of earlier concepts that emphasizes the complexities of the global flow and transnational influence of media.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Digital Convergence

                                                                                                                                                                                                                By the late 1990s, the emergence of digital media brought television into convergence with other forms of media, new production contexts, and new uses. Jenkins 2008 is an influential book that takes a broad view of the phenomenon, while Lotz 2009, Gillan 2010, and Bennett and Strange 2011 examine shifts in television industry structures and practices.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Bennett, James, and Niki Strange, eds. Television as Digital Media. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  An international collection of scholars look at the changes in the meanings and contexts of television across technologies, industries, economics, aesthetics, and audience practices.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Gillan, Jennifer. Television and New Media: Must-Click TV. London: Routledge, 2010.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    An overview of television production, distribution, and reception practices in the era of digital and mobile media.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press, 2008.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Groundbreaking and influential analysis of new-media forms and circuits of influence.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Lotz, Amanda D., ed. Beyond Prime Time: Television Programming in the Post-Network Era. New York: Routledge, 2009.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A perceptive overview of the changes wrought on the television industry by convergent practices, focusing on primetime television.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        back to top

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        How to Subscribe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions and individuals. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Purchase an Ebook Version of This Article

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ebooks of the Oxford Bibliographies Online subject articles are available in North America via a number of retailers including Amazon, vitalsource, and more. Simply search on their sites for Oxford Bibliographies Online Research Guides and your desired subject article.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If you would like to purchase an eBook article and live outside North America please email onlinemarketing@oup.com to express your interest.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Article

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Up

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Down