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Global TV

Global TV: Exporting Television and Culture in the World Market

Denise D. Bielby
C. Lee Harrington
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Global TV
    Book Description:

    A reporter for the Los Angeles Times once noted that I Love Lucy is said to be on the air somewhere in the world 24 hours a day. That Lucy's madcap antics can be watched anywhere at any time is thanks to television syndication, a booming global marketplace that imports and exports TV shows. Programs from different countries are packaged, bought, and sold all over the world, under the watch of an industry that is extraordinarily lucrative for major studios and production companies.In Global TV, Denise D. Bielb and C. Lee Harrington seek to understand the machinery of this marketplace, its origins and history, its inner workings, and its product management. In so doing, they are led to explore the cultural significance of this global trade, and to ask how it is so remarkably successful despite the inherent cultural differences between shows and local audiences. How do culture-specific genres like American soap operas and Latin telenovelas so easily cross borders and adapt to new cultural surroundings? Why is The Nanny, whose gum-chewing star is from Queens, New York, a smash in Italy? Importantly, Bielby and Harrington also ask which kinds of shows fail. What is lost in translation? Considering such factors as censorship and other such state-specific policies, what are the inevitable constraints of crossing over?Highly experienced in the field, Bielby and Harrington provide a unique and richly textured look at global television through a cultural lens, one that has an undeniable and complex effect on what shows succeed and which do not on an international scale.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-3916-7
    Subjects: Performing Arts

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-21)

    This book is an examination of a lesser-known aspect of the entertainment medium of television: the international market for television programming. Others before us have focused upon the domestic television industry’s history, its founders and innovators, and its organizational form when the broadcast networks ruled the airwaves. Still others have written about how its logic as a dominant corporate enterprise shapes, consciously or unconsciously, the social values embedded within its programming, and how specific populations, such as women and racial and ethnic groups, deconstruct those values as an integral part of their viewing habits and practices.³ Television remains a ubiquitous...

  7. 1 The Syndication Market in U.S. Television
    (pp. 22-36)

    The global market for the export of U.S. television programming was launched in the mid-1950s by the big three domestic broadcast networks — first CBS, followed by NBC and then ABC.⁴ With airtime on newly established networks abroad needing to be filled, the market for the screening of “telefilms” — as the filmed series were called — outside the United States was thus realized. CBS, in 1954, was the first to venture into foreign distribution of its network programming with sales to other countries, with NBC and ABC following soon thereafter. Not only did the networks syndicate the programs they produced themselves, but...

  8. 2 Television in the Global Market
    (pp. 37-65)

    The first two quotations reflect the complicated mix of parochial concerns and cosmopolitan considerations that make up the syndication market in the television industry today. In the first one we see the characteristically provincial origins of domestic television, remnants of which prevail to this day. The second quotation, a headline about the 1998 shift toward the importance of the international marketplace for television distribution, can only hint at the complexity underlying the change from its early focus on local markets to a focus on markets composed of locales never anticipated. The third quotation suggests the practical reality of working day...

  9. 3 The (Continued) Relevance of Genre
    (pp. 66-100)

    From 2000 to 2005, reality shows dominated the world market, with Pop Stars, Survivor,Big Brother,andQueer Eye for the Straight Guy(among others) successfully adapted to numerous countries around the world. Reality programming was so popular in the United States during this time period, particularly among the youth demographic, that the genre was predicted to alter the economics of the domestic television industry in fundamental ways. For example, analysts forecasted the end of traditional seasons on ABC, NBC, and CBS so that these networks could avoid summer reruns and enhance competition with Fox’s year round programming philosophy and...

  10. 4 Managing Television’s Cultural Properties
    (pp. 101-143)

    The first quotation, from an advertisement for the 2005 NATPE convention inThe Hollywood Reporter,features a recent mantra in the marketing of American television programming at home and abroad. Declaring that content is “still king” harkens back to when marketing in other countries meant that the content of a series—its presumed quality or the universality of its themes—could sell itself as the bread and butter of the international market. But it also refers to a resurgence in the global market for U.S. products such asDesperate HousewivesandLostpreciselybecauseof their local hit status and...

  11. 5 Discourses of Distribution: Circuit Models of Television
    (pp. 144-174)

    In chapter 4 we examined among many pertinent matters the importance of discourse to the import/export market for constructing accounts of factors that explain a hit series. Such accounts are important as post hoc explanations of success because they convey to stake-holders that the business of the market is more rational and organized than it actually is. Because success in the import/export market is so difficult to predict in advance, as we have noted previously, anticipating a priori which aspects of organizational structure, conditions, or dynamics will lead to the creation of a hit is challenging, to say the least....

  12. Conclusion: Television’s Culture World
    (pp. 175-182)

    What is taking place within the inner workings of the global marketplace that would have the leader of the U.S.’s major trade show speaking of its democratization? How might the change Feldman refers to further our understanding of the television industry’s culture world? In this conclusion we turn to these and other questions as we consider the sociological significance of our findings and their relationship to some of the predominant theoretical debates in the field.

    Feldman has worked tirelessly, and successfully it seems, since his appointment as head in 2003 to expand NATPE’s presence as a player on the global...

  13. Methodological Appendix
    (pp. 183-188)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 189-226)
  15. References
    (pp. 227-252)
  16. Index
    (pp. 253-258)
  17. About the Authors
    (pp. 259-259)