2014 | 6 | Convergent Television(s)

The history of media convergence, especially of convergent television, is a field that needs to be further investigated. Media convergence is often considered a taken-for-granted phenomenon, a kind of ‘irresistible’ force that has changed and is continuously changing media ecosystems. Furthermore, it seems to be mainly an American phenomenon because it has involved US politics and companies and because the most relevant reflections and publications on this topic come from American scholars.
This issue of VIEW tries to deal with this complex and polysemic concept from different points of view, adopting several theoretical and methodological frameworks. It attempts to counteract some of the aforementioned taken-for-granted ideas, analyzing TV convergence from a historical and long-term perspective, considering symmetrical case studies of success and failures, concentrating on the European dimension through the lens of transnational, comparative, and national contributions.
Co-edited by Gabriele Balbi and Massimo Scaglioni

Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 12 of 12
  • Article
    ARTE: French-German Experiments in Crossing the Borders. 'One Media – Three Screens' Convergence and Interactivity at its Full Potential?
    Wiehl, Anna (2014-12-24)
    This contribution is aimed at discussing different current policies of convergence as well as questioning whether these exploit the opportunities of digital media to their full potential, especially with regard to transmedia storytelling, interactivity, participation and networking.Taking the portfolio of the ‘European Culture Channel’ ARTE as an example, I draw a sketch of existing and emerging industrial strategies as well as of new formats and user practices. In the second part of the article, I examine one specific genre within this context I look at the collaborative, networked transmedia documentary Prison Valley to consider transformations at both the macro and the micro level. Last but not least, I question whether ARTE fulfils its promise to be the first “100% bi-medial channel” (according to ARTE’s mission statement), or whether it promotes an ‘extended side-by-sideness’ of devices and practices, which would constitute the first steps towards the synergetic potential of media convergence.
  • Article
    Convergent Cultures: The Disappearance of Commissioned Audiovisual Productions in The Netherlands
    Agterberg, Bas (2014-12-24)
    The article analyses the changes in production and consumption in the audiovisual industry and the way the so-called ‘ephemeral’ commissioned productions are scarcely preserved. New technologies and the liberal economic policies and internationalisation changed the media landscape in the 1980s. Audiovisual companies created a broad range of products within the audiovisual industry. This also resulted in a democratisation of the use of media as well as new formats of programmes and distribution for commissioned productions. By looking at a specific company that recently handed over a collection to the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, challenges and issues of preserving video and digital and interactive audiovisual productions are discussed.
  • Article
    Convergent Television and ‘Audience Participation’: The Early Days of Interactive Digital Television in the UK
    Theodoropoulou, Vivi (2014-12-24)
    The paper focuses on the introduction of interactive digital television (DTV) in the UK at the turn of the millennium, and its take-up and use by early audiences. It discusses whether the processes of television technological convergence went together with ‘consumer behaviour convergence,’1 enhanced audience engagement with the interactive TV services offered, and participation. Based on findings from a UK-wide survey and in-depth interviews with early Sky digital subscribers conducted during the early days of the service, the article shows that early interactive DTV was taken up because of its multichannel offering and thematic orientation and, interestingly, was approached and appreciated mostly as a television content provider. It thus notes a divergence on industry’s attempts to promote convergence in broadcasting and on the level and pace with which users adopt and adapt to such change. In so doing it highlights the evolutionary nature and slow rate of change of cultural habits and forms.
  • Article
    Digital Convergence and Content Regulation
    Starks, Michael John (2014-12-24)
    Distribution systems for broadcasting, Press and Internet journalism are converging: the same infrastructure can deliver all three historically separate services. Reception devices mirror this: the Connected TV, the tablet and the smart phone overlap in their functionality. Service overlaps are evident too, with broadcasters providing online and on-demand services and newspapers developing electronic versions. Does this mean that media regulation policies must converge too?My argument is that they should, though only where historically different communications are now fulfilling a similar function, e.g. broadcaster online services and electronic versions of newspapers. Convergence requires a degree of harmonisation and, to this end, I advocate a review of UK broadcasting’s ‘due impartiality’ requirement and of the UK’s application of the public service concept. I also argue for independent selfregulation (rather than state-based regulation) of non-public-service broadcasting journalism. These proposals are UK-specific since, given the regulatory and cultural differences between countries, detailed policy changes are likely to be determined mainly at national level, but I note the wider European context. Moreover, the underlying principle is relevant internationally: as freedom of entry into the non-public service sector of broadcast and online journalism becomes closer to the historically much greater freedom of entry into the Press, so the regulation of freedom of expression in these converging fields should become more consistent – and, I would argue, less state-based.
  • Article
    Balbi, Gabriele; Scaglioni, Massimo (2014-12-24)
  • Article
    Multiscreening and Social TV: The Changing Landscape of TV Consumption in Italy
    Marinelli, Alberto; Andò, Romana (2014-12-24)
    The explosive growth of handheld screen devices has fostered the emergence of new TV consumption practices: "always connected while watching TV" is the expression that best summarizes this transformation. On the one hand, we observe multiscreening practices engendered by the availability of second screen devices, which people use both simultaneously and sequentially while watching. On the other hand, these handheld devices are strengthening the social dimension of the TV-watching experience (Social TV).This paper aims to analyze the diffusion of social and connected television in the Italian market, relying on data from the “Osservatorio Social TV 2013-2014” (Sapienza University, Rome).
  • Article
    Newspaper Video Content: Genres and Editorial Formats in Spain
    Negredo, Samuel (2014-12-24)
    Newspaper websites and online only news operations deliver an increasingly varied and comprehensive offer of original audiovisual content. Videos on Spanish websites cover current affairs and niche interests, complementing the reports supplied by news agencies. The spoken word is a primary mode of expression, in the form of dialogues (interviews and debates) and speeches (comments and analyses), but more complex and visually appealing formats have been developed. Publishers face the challenge of organising these packages and programmes to facilitate access and retrieval. This may help to improve user experience, and to maximise long-term consumption and value.
  • Article
    Public Service Television in a Multi-Platform Environment: A Comparative Study in Finland and Israel
    Klein-Shagrir, Oranit; Keinonen, Heidi (2014-12-24)
    Cultural and economic transformations have encouraged television companies to turn their attention to multi-platform practices so as to increase their compatibility with the changing media environment. While digital media provide public service broadcasting (PSB) institutions with new opportunities for meeting their public commitments and maintaining their relevance in national media systems, PSB is also faced with additional challenges. One of these is the tension between public service values on the one hand and digital technologies and practices on the other. In this article we discuss how Finnish and Israeli PSB managers and producers perceive the opportunities and challenges of multi-platform production. In both countries public service broadcasting is striving for public legitimacy and relevance in a changing technological environment. However, the two countries currently find themselves at quite different stages: Israel has a struggling public service agency, while Finland boasts a strong broadcasting company.
  • Article
    TV Goes Social: Italian Broadcasting Strategies and the Challenges of Convergence
    Barra, Luca; Scaglioni, Massimo (2014-12-24)
    In recent years, the Italian television scenario has become fully convergent, and social TV is an activity – and a hip buzzword – indicating both a rich set of possibilities for the audience to engage with TV shows, and an important asset developed by the television industry to provide such engagement, with promotional and economic goals. Mainly adopting the perspective of the production cultures of Italian broadcasters, the essay will explore the “Italian way to social television”, highlighting the strategies adopted by networks and production companies to encourage online television discourse and to exploit it as a content, a marketing device or a source of supplementary income.
  • Article
    Wide-Screen Television and Home Movies: Towards an Archaeology of Television and Cinema Convergence Before Digitalisation
    Steward, Tom James Longley (2014-12-24)
    In this article, Tom Steward uses past interrelations of television and cinema spectatorship, exhibition, production and aesthetics to historicize phenomenological digital-era discourses on, ontological definitions of, and cultural arguments about television and cinema convergence. He argues that television and cinema assisted in defining each other as late 20th Century media and cultural forms, have a multi-directional industrial and artistic flow, and are often interdependent in reception and distribution. Television and cinema convergence demonstrates the need for historical breadth in media convergence theory and an understanding of medium-specificity that incorporates interactions with other media.
  • Article
    ‘More Than a Television Channel’: Channel 4, FilmFour and a Failed Convergence Strategy
    Andrews, Hannah (2014-12-24)
    Obliged by act of Parliament to “innovate and experiment,” Channel 4 has, since its birth in 1982, been the UK’s most pioneering commercial television broadcaster. Its arrival broadened the meaning, function and operations of public service broadcasting in the UK, with a particular focus on minorities and pushing boundaries, political and creative. In the late 1990s, though, it was under increasing threat from specialist pay-TV services that could more accurately target its audiences. As a commercially funded channel with public service responsibilities, Channel 4 was under increasing pressure to be financially independent and fulfil a challenging remit. Its response to a threatened income and increasing competition was to diversify its portfolio into various media related businesses, particularly taking advantage of the arrival of digital television to expand its offer. The subtitle of the Corporation’s 2000 Annual report, ‘More than a Television Channel’ indicates the confidence, optimism and boldness with which this expansion was approached.The rapid expansion of the channel’s portfolio in a time of relative confidence in the commercial viability of the television industry was to be reversed only a few years later, when, after it failed to produce the returns it was designed for, 4Ventures was drastically scaled back, and Channel 4 refocused its efforts on the core broadcast channel.Channel 4 therefore offers a test case in the limits of convergence as a strategy for survival for British broadcasters at the arrival of digital television. This paper focuses specifically on the areas of Channel 4’s strategy that pertained to one of the broadcaster’s particular strengths: film culture. It explores one of the film offshoots of 4Ventures: FilmFour Ltd, the film finance, production, sales and distribution company and how its failure to find a commercial hit mirrors the general problems for a commercial public service broadcaster in expanding to become a convergent television company.
  • Article
    ‘The Schneiderverse’: Nickelodeon, Convergent Television and Transmedia Storytelling
    Dare-Edwards, Helena Louise (2014-12-24)
    This article will analyse the textual features of two recent and successful American-based Nickelodeon shows, both of which incorporate digital and social technologies into their sitcom-style format. Aimed at a tween-girl1 audience, these ‘convergence comedies’2 complicate traditional notions of media spectatorship and the distinctions between media producers and consumers as audiences are invited to participate in the processes of production. While media convergence is built into the visual style of both shows, the shows themselves converge to create a shared fictional world, dubbed the ‘Schneiderverse,’ which traverses the boundary between the real and the fictional. It will be considered how the audience’s media experience3 could be enriched through immersion in the online spaces associated with the texts.