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VIEW Journal of European Television History and Culture
  This is an Open Access Journal Open Access journal
     ISSN (Print) 2213-0969 - ISSN (Online) 2213-0969
     Published by Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision Homepage  [1 journal]
  • Rational Wizards: Audience Interpreters in French Television

    • Authors: Jérôme Bourdon
      Abstract: This paper will tell the story of the smallgroup of people who, in France, have been in charge of the measurement and theappreciation of the audience of television, and had to invent audience research,to organize it and to communicate its results to "clients" whodepended on it much earlier than usually assumed: television managers andprofessionals, public authorities, and, last but not least, advertisers. The paper will explore both change andcontinuity. First, change: the professional origin and training of measurerschanged much over the years. In the early days, they could have an almostliterary profile. The first person in charge of the audience at the RadioTélévision Française was a teacher of philosophy. His followers had a formationin sociology and semiology. They all insisted on the fact that they were not"simply" measurers, and also worried about appreciation, quality,culture. They always figures did produce figures, but rarely only about thenumber of people present in front of the screen, mostly about satisfaction,appreciation, preferences for given genres, viewing habits. As there was onlyone channel – until 1964, with the number of TV sets rising sharply, ratings,in the modern sense, were not critical.Things started to change gradually. In 1974,the public broadcasting corporation was divided into several companies,including three competing channels. The service in charge of measuring audiencewas put under the direct authority of the Prime Minister. Audience figuresplayed a part in the distribution of resources, not only advertising but throughthe license fee sharing. However, the law also provided a clause about an indexof quality, which never functioned satisfactorily, although the service incharge of audiences put much effort into it. In 1985, around the time of deregulation,change came. From outside, this was translated into the rise of daily,detailed, fast produced figures of the audience through audimeters, thenpeoplemeters. Those figures become highly controversial; a popular book on TVwore the title: "The dictatorship of the audimat". But audiencemeasurers did not turn into dictators. They were, undoubteldy, more consideredas technicians. Their competence in statistics became crucial. But they werealso negotiatiors, consensus builders who have to work in an atmosphere ofgrowing suspicion as the revenues of television depended now mainly, if not only,on audience figures. However, continuity was there aswell. The need for effective mediations of the audience existed from the start.Those mediators, figures, reports, played several roles. Particularly, and thisis true until two days, they provided channels managers with a source of“para-democratic legitimacy”. For the “profession” of measurers, this meansthat they have always played an important roles, as spokespersons of theaudience, equipped with an almost magical kind of knowledge: the power to“read” the will and whims of a mysterious, anonymous mass of viewers.
      PubDate: 2013-12-23
      Issue No: Vol. 2 (2013)
  • In-Vision Continuity Announcers: Performing an Identity for Early
           Television in Europe

    • Authors: Sonja de Leeuw, Dana Mustata
      Abstract: In-vision continuity announcers have played central – yet understudied – roles in early television history. Through their performances on and off the screen, they mediated the identity of the televisual medium in the 1950s and 1960s, popularizing it as a medium of sound and vision, a domestic and gendered medium as well as a national and transnational institution.Focusing primarily on Dutch and Romanian female in-vision continuity announcers in the 1950s and 60s and making extensive comparisons with other countries in Europe, this article illustrates how these early professionals of television performed as part of a European-wide phenomenon of defining the identity of the new televisual medium.
      PubDate: 2013-12-23
      Issue No: Vol. 2 (2013)
  • Whatever Happened to Vera?

    • Authors: Jo Henderson
      Abstract: The road to technological progress is littered with unsuccessful prototypes and their inventors, and in British television there is perhaps no better example than John Logie Baird, universally recognised as the inventor of the technology, but not the successful business model. Another casualty is the Vision Electronic Recording Apparatus (VERA), less well known than Baird’s invention but a technology developed by the BBC Design Unit that has the potential to change the production and working practices of British television, in ways yet to be imagined or apparent. This article, based on secondary sources (Briggs: 1995, Burns:1977,Hall: 1996, Hartney: 1996 Marshall: 1979 Nash: 1970, and Wyver:1981, 1989), seeks to illuminate and narrativise some of the threads in the hidden, or certainly largely unexplored, history of video technology in British television between 1955 and 1975. The start date recognises the ending the BBC’s television monopoly and the shift to a duopolistic industry that the BBC has to adjust to. The end date reflects a point where non-broadcast video technology has become more affordable and of such high quality that it threatens to achieve the standard previously set as the minimum by the broadcasting unions. The affordability of the technology leads to new forms of content and new contexts of practice developing amongst artists, activists and auteurs, some of whom explicitly choose to question the constructs of television.
      PubDate: 2013-12-23
      Issue No: Vol. 2 (2013)
  • Doing it Live! Planning and Preparing for a Live Drama Episode: A Case
           Study of 'The Bill' (ITV, 2005)

    • Authors: Joanna MacDonnell
      Abstract: Over the last decade there has been a move towards live episodes of popular television dramas and soap operas in the UK being used to celebrate programme and channel anniversaries. This paper, written by a member of the production team is focused on the ‘behind the scenes’ preparation and subsequent broadcast of the live episode of British police drama The Bill on September 22nd 2005. This live episode became a landmark broadcast as it was the first time that dramatic stunt sequences had been performed live. This article will be supported with examples from the original planning documentation and rehearsal photographs and will examine the production culture in the planning and preparation of the episode. It will also reveal some of the trickery used to execute the stunts, will discuss the difficulties experienced during the live episode and how problems were overcome. 
      PubDate: 2013-12-23
      Issue No: Vol. 2 (2013)
  • Behind the Scenes: Costume Design for Television

    • Authors: Gamze Toylan
      Abstract: There are many things you don’t know about 'The League of Gentlemen': Focusing on the award winning costume designer Yves Barre’s work for The League of Gentlemen (BBC, 1999-2002), this article explores the role of the costume designer in television production. Using an anthropological method that combines original interviews with Barre, Steve Pemberton (one of the writer/performers) and Jon Plowman (the executive producer) as well as second hand material such as DVD extras, the article provides insight into the show’s creative process. The underlying objective is to shed light on the costume design process – an understudied stage of television production.

      PubDate: 2013-12-23
      Issue No: Vol. 2 (2013)
  • Editorial

    • Authors: Andy O'Dwyer, Tim O'Sulivan
      Abstract: We know little about the ‘behind the scenes’ of television. While the booming field of production studies has been shining a light on the work processes and the personnel in production spaces, there is still a lot to be learnt about the ‘hidden’ professions of television. This issue of VIEW provides a rich but fairly eclectic series of contributions based on the theme.
      PubDate: 2013-12-23
      Issue No: Vol. 2 (2013)
  • Revealing Television's Analogue Heroes

    • Authors: Vanessa Jackson
      Abstract: In this article I will argue that we need to create new archival models in order to preserve and share knowledge of historical, ‘hidden’ television professions and production cultures. Oral history traditions of recording life stories give us a useful starting point. Engineering ‘encounters’ between skilled television technicians, and the now obsolete equipment they operated in the 1970s and 80s, is challenging for a myriad of reasons, but videoing the interaction of man and machine provides us with a rich insight into how analogue television was produced and broadcast. Social media enables us to disseminate these histories in new and innovative ways..
      PubDate: 2013-12-23
      Issue No: Vol. 2 (2013)
  • An Unknown, but Key Player in the Television Market: The Television
           Retailer and the Case of Black and White TV Sets in France (1950-1987)

    • Authors: Isabelle Gaillard
      Abstract: This article offers insights into how black and white TV sets were sold in France from 1948 to the mid 80s. During this period, the black and white television set shifted from being an expensive and breakable technical object to a commonplace, mass consumer durable good. The article illustrates this process.
      PubDate: 2013-12-23
      Issue No: Vol. 2 (2013)
  • Hid(ing) Media Professionals: Constructing and Contesting the 1st AD

    • Authors: Daniel Ashton, Nic Jeune
      Abstract: This article addresses the hidden professions of television production through examining the role of the First Assistant Director (1st AD). Drawing on ‘industry talk’, this article examines the ways in which the role of the 1st AD is understood as central to the film and television production process but regarded as overlooked or lacking in status and visibility. Examining how 1st ADs position themselves and are positioned as both invisible and visible is an opportunity to examine how the 1st AD understand and challenge their status as hidden professionals.
      PubDate: 2013-12-23
      Issue No: Vol. 2 (2013)
  • Invisible Mediations: The Role of Adaptation and Dubbing Professionals in
           Shaping US TV for Italian Audiences

    • Authors: Luca Barra
      Abstract: With the increasing global circulation of media products, professionals devoted to the process of audiovisual translation and ‘national mediation’ for foreign ready-made programmes have gained a central role in contemporary TV. Presenting the results of an ethnographical study, this essay explores the ‘invisible art’ of TV adaptation and dubbing, explaining its procedures, traditions and challenges. Adaptation has to consider both the technical necessities of the audio-visual and cross-cultural aspects of translation, while dubbing involves extremely intricate production routines, professionals with different skills, written and unwritten rules, a range of different workplaces, economic investments and traditions. The result is a new text, modified following contrasting linguistic, cultural and professional goals.
      PubDate: 2013-12-23
      Issue No: Vol. 2 (2013)
  • Writing Games: Continuity and Change in the Design and Development of Quiz
           Shows in Italy

    • Authors: Massimo Scaglioni, Axel Fiacco
      Abstract: As in the United States and in many countries across Europe, the quiz show was a founding genre for Italian television as far back as the 1950s: because of their broad appeal, such game shows as Lascia o raddoppia and Il musichiere contributed strongly to television’s burgeoning popularity during the subsequent decades. Since then, the quiz show has traversed different eras of television history, with partial and gradual changes to its textual features, aesthetics and narratives, as well as its production routines. Since the 1980s, with deregulation and the advent of commercial television, the Italian game-show market has become more international and more reliant on formats. In the genre’s long history, the “hidden profession” of writing TV games exhibits elements of both continuity and change. The needs of format-adaptation have highlighted two main areas of “localization”: question-writing and casting. This essay explores the profession of game-show writer in Italy and how the role has evolved. It adopts a historical framework to illuminate the continuity and change in the profession, in relation to a broader history of both the genre and the television medium, while also seeking to outline both the specificity of the Italian TV context and its connections with an international environment. 
      PubDate: 2013-12-23
      Issue No: Vol. 2 (2013)
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Heriot-Watt University
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