Introduction: Transnational television history: A comparative approach

Andreas Fickers, Catherine Johnson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


What was meant as a hint to the large community of historians applies even more to the small field of television history. The strong tie of media historiography with the national project has its origins, as Jean K. Chalaby has rightly formulated, in the fact that ‘no other media institution was more central to the modernist intent of engineering a national identity’ (1). This intrinsic quality of television as a national institution has tempted most historians of television to analyse the medium using a more or less strict national perspective. The search for the nation in television formats, programmes, institutions or legislation has produced a variety of excellent historical scholarship, reinforcing Benedict Anderson’s thesis of the constitutive role of the media in the creation of ‘imagined communities’. Despite the heterogeneous institutional varieties of today’s television all over the world, one can identify a surprising homogeneity when it comes to the functional similarities of television as an agent of modernization and nation-building – at least during the ‘golden age of capitalism’ in which television developed into the ‘leading medium’ of the mass media ensemble.3 But the breaking of the quasi-monopoly of public service broadcasters all over Europe in the 1980s changed the television landscape, and cross-border television channels – with the help of satellite and the internet – have catapulted the relatively closed television nations into the universe of globalized media channels.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTransnational Television History
Subtitle of host publicationA comparative approach
EditorsAndreas Fickers, Catherine Johnson
Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon and New York
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781135760328
ISBN (Print)9780415698603
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


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