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The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies, 7 Volume Set by Fabienne Darling-Wolf, Radhika Parameswaran, Erica Scharrer, Vicki Mayer, Sharon Mazzarella, Kelly Gates, John Nerone, Angharad N. Valdivia

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8

“This Is What I Need, This Is What Will Travel”

Television Programs in the Era of Transition

Shawn Shimpach

ABSTRACT

Until recently, broadcast television in the US was premised on profits arising from expanding space (national distribution, national and international syndication) and from limiting time (the imposed scarcity of access). Technological and regulatory changes have meant that television producers have had (reluctantly) to acquiesce in basic changes to this formula. This chapter looks at four ways these changes have affected the production of television programming. Specifically, program producers are compelled to create programs designed to travel over borders and through time, to translate to different cultures as well as to media, to tether to new viewing and new sponsorship practices, and, throughout all these conditions, to continue to tantalize viewers, attracting and holding the attention of industry and audience alike, at all these different sites.

Although long referred to in casual industry parlance as “development” or “property,” television programs have recently seen a subtle but significant shift in the way the industry perceives and values them. This new value on individual programs is emerging during a period of rapid institutional and technological change, characterized by the fragmentation and dispersal of what was once imagined to be a mass audience for television. As this audience disperses through space and time and across multiple media, television ...

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