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New Television, Globalisation, and the East Asian Cultural Imagination

New Television, Globalisation, and the East Asian Cultural Imagination

Michael Keane
Anthony Y. H. Fung
Albert Moran
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 228
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  • Book Info
    New Television, Globalisation, and the East Asian Cultural Imagination
    Book Description:

    Challenging assumptions that have underpinned critiques of globalisation and combining cultural theory with media industry analysis, Keane, Fung and Moran give a groundbreaking account of the evolution of television in the post-broadcasting era, and how programming ideas are creatively redeveloped and franchised in East Asia. In this first comprehensive study of television program adaptation across cultures, the authors argue that adaptation, transfer, and recycling of content are multiplying to the point of marginalising other economic and cultural practices. They also show that significant re-modelling of local TV production practices occur when adaptation is genuinely responsive to local values. Examples of East Asian format adaptations include Survivor, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, The Weakest Link, Coronation Street, and Idol.

    eISBN: 978-988-8052-59-2
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 Out of Nowhere
    (pp. 1-16)

    For more than five decades since television was introduced into East Asia, widespread debate has ensued concerning the pervasive influence of American and Western popular culture. The key arguments can perhaps be summarised as follows: Hollywood is the dominant centre of production; it produces movies and television that have global recognition; this content promotes individualist values; these values are damaging to Asian social traditions.

    Since 1998, viewers in Japan, China, Taiwan and South Korea have been introduced to a new kind of entertainment television. Celebrity chefs compete in highly stylised culinary combat; winners ‘take all’ in survival reality shows; quiz...


    • 2 Performing the Local in the Global
      (pp. 19-38)

      What does it mean to conduct research into Asian television? More particularly, do established research agendas hold back new knowledge of Asian television? If we accept that the purpose of research is ‘the systematic pursuit of the not-yet-known’ (Appadurai 2001: 10), it is evident that legitimate new knowledge is something that is theoretically or empirically novel, while being of intrinsic interest to the field.

      The field of television studies — from the histories of television production to the development of new television technologies — is circumscribed by prior knowledge and inherited frameworks. These frameworks devolve from ideological and institutional perspectives that underpin...

    • 3 Rethinking Structures of Dominance, Translation Effects, and Export Models
      (pp. 39-58)

      How does creative content from East Asia find its way into world markets? How can the East Asian cultural imagination transcend domestic containers and move into international markets?

      These are crucial questions for media industries in East Asia. Influencing the balance of audio-visual flows through export success is important for producers — for some, more important than how national governments might legislate to artificially restrict foreign content. When sold at prices that local markets can afford, imported programming displaces local content and becomes an impediment to local industry development, as well as a source of nationalist discomfort. Imports — whether these be...

    • 4 Formats, Genres, and Engines
      (pp. 59-78)

      Adaptation is a critical component of global television production, but it is conspicuously under-represented within media studies critique. Television formats are templates for adaptation. They move fast, mutate, and replace previous versions. While the expanding scale of television adaptation is a global phenomenon, there is an important local dynamic. To use a common phrase in media studies, it is ‘where the global meets the local’. However, more than just ‘glocalisation’ — a term coined to explain the mutually constitutive elements of the global and the local (Robertson 1994; Kraidy 2005) — the TV format adaptation process is a mechanism of flexible, leaner...


    • 5 Cultural Diversity, Trade, and Technology Transfer
      (pp. 81-96)

      In Chapter 2 we examined the characteristics of television systems and categories of programming in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea. We concluded that there were similarities across these countries as well as comparable structures of feeling that assist the exchange of programs. This chapter and the next focus on the material assets exchanged when programs are traded and techniques of production move across national television systems.

      Franchising models play a role in reshaping and restructuring global activity in two ways. First, many transferred formats embody high levels of internationalised ‘intangibles’: notions about value creation, branding, marketing and...

    • 6 The International Currency of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
      (pp. 97-108)

      If you were to ask residents of Hong Kong, Singapore, or Tokyo the question ‘do you want to be a millionaire?’ it is likely that the answer would be in the affirmative, with a passing acknowledgement of the popularity of the TV program Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (Millionaire). With millionaire-ship now effectively packaged as popular culture, few people — with the possible exception of religious zealots and hard-core socialists — challenge the morality of instant wealth. Fascination with the televised exploits of ordinary people winning great cash payouts supports a core tenet of neo-liberalism — the idea that anyone can succeed...

    • 7 Knowledge, Economy, and Government
      (pp. 109-122)

      In the penultimate round of a Chinese quiz show, three contestants remain. The rules of the contest call for the nomination of an opponent who will be cast off, leaving two in the final round. In this episode, broadcast in 2002, two of the participants collude to cast off the strongest challenger (that is, the person who has answered most questions correctly). In the ensuing final round, the weaker of the two finalists jumps to an unexpected lead and takes the jackpot.

      As the final credits roll on this Chinese version of The Weakest Link (suitably titled The Wise Rule),...

    • 8 Super Girl and the Performing of Quality
      (pp. 123-140)

      When Time Asia magazine chose the winner of the Chinese TV talent contest Super Girl (chaoji nüsheng: literally ‘Super Female Voice’) for the cover of its annual ‘Asian Heroes’ issue, the story headline read ‘Li Yuchun: Loved for Being Herself’ (Jakes 2005). Tens of thousands of fans of the Pop Idol ‘clone’ had responded overwhelmingly in voting for the spiky-haired music student from Sichuan province, who some claimed resembled an animation character more than a standard Chinese pop star. Significantly, Li Yuchun’s entry in the CNN–Time Warner consortium’s parade of Asian heroes was not listed under entertainers, but icons....

    • 9 The Artifice of Reality in East Asia
      (pp. 141-158)

      Reality television formats are omnipresent in global television schedules. Turn on a television channel in prime time and chances are you will be regaled by seemingly ordinary folk cast as players in games of chance and skill that include the engine of audience adjudication. The repertoire of reality television includes the fly-on-the-wall docu-soap variety that presents airport attendants, hotel staff, police, and emergency services interacting with the public; makeover programs; talent contests; court programs; various kinds of dating shows; cooking contests; reality-based sitcoms; and information challenge formats. In East Asia, however, it is the elimination model, broadly defined as the...

    • 10 Ad Magazines, Care of the Self, and New Windows of Opportunity
      (pp. 159-174)

      The bottom line of the television industry — the financing of its programs — is under siege from the threat of diminishing audiences, or at least, substantial reductions in audience numbers per channel. This chapter addresses some of the strategies that producers and networks adopt to offset the tide of audience fragmentation and advertiser apathy. These include advertorials, magazine and lifestyle shows, tie-ins, product placement, and various forms of merchandising. The role played by formats as a kind of circuit-breaker in the trend towards low-cost programming illustrates the profound institutional shifts confronting the medium of broadcast television.

      The first section looks at...


    • 11 Adaptation, Imitation, and Innovation
      (pp. 177-190)

      If franchising is a strategy for producing programs that can generate local as well as international sales, what should we then make of copying, a practice that is endemic — and, some would say, even essential to doing business in East Asia? As argued in the five-stage export growth model germane to developing or peripheral markets (Chapter 3), the format/franchise model is based on the idea of trading copyrights and exchanging knowledge. The notion of trade is paramount in this stage of development. The previous stage in the model is cloning or copying and, while not precluding trade, it limits this...

    • 12 New Television
      (pp. 191-202)

      So what’s new about new television? Is it platforms or content, spectrum or distribution? Should we be circumspect about a demise of television in the post-broadcasting era? Certainly, electronic consumer technologies like the internet and video gaming are reshaping the role of television. But to what extent are such changes impacting upon the evolution of content? Do digital technologies substitute or supplement existing media? How does the ease of replication associated with digitisation determine the menu of choices available to consumers?

      In the preceding eleven chapters, we have suggested that adaptation has become the prime currency of contemporary television markets,...

  8. References
    (pp. 203-218)
  9. Index
    (pp. 219-220)