In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section 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
Michele Hilmes
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 June 2012
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 June 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791286-0178


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.

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

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

    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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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