FlowTV is a critical forum on television and media culture published biweekly by the Department of Radio, Television, and Film at the University of Texas at Austin.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Television's Future and the Role of TV Scholarship (Panel #8)

Panel Columnist: John Hartley (Queensland University of Technology)
Participants: Andrew Garrison (University of Texas at Austin), Shawn Shimpach (University of Massachussetts-Amherst), Stephanie Tuszynski (University of Toledo), Avi Santo (Old Dominion University), Espen Ytreberg (University of Oslo)
Moderator: Jennings Doyle (University of Texas at Austin)

Question: The broadcast era may not be over but its successor is taking shape. The tipping point has already been reached in the shift from behaviour to action (consumer), from closed expert system to open innovation network (producer), and from TV as nation-builder (Network-TV) to global archive (TiVo and BBC Creative Archive). Low-cost digital technology means kids can make TV as easily as they can write. The "Pro-Am revolution" means that unwaged independents can make TV that is as compelling as craft-based professionals. "Hyperdistribution" and "the "long tail" mean that TV doesn't have to be popular to find an audience. Broadcast/broadband hybrid access means that you can toggle between "sit back" and "sit up" modes of viewing, turning from consumer to producer in an instant. TV studies - both academic and informal, but mostly academic - are stuck in the broadcast era. But as TV itself tips from "read only" (broadcast) to "read and write" (digital) literacy, one question is becoming more urgent: what is TV scholarship doing about it? Do we understand these changes? What are we doing to raise the level of "media literacy"? What is our ambition for the semiotic/narrative quality of digital creative potential? What happens to society-wide audiencehood in the era of the long tail? What are we doing to combat "digital exclusion" in our own communities and globally? What is our stance on consumer-IP and audience labour? How are we changing the form of scholarship itself to model the new realities?

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