Public Service Broadcasters and British Film Culture, 1990-2010
The relationship between television institutions and film in Britain has a complex history, influenced by profound changes in both cultural industries over time. The involvement of public service broadcasters (PSBs) in British cinema has been a regularly-acknowledged, but under-examined phenomenon. There is a dearth of up-to-date scholarship dealing with the relationship, particularly as it unfolded over the turbulent decades of the 1990s and 2000s.
This thesis updates and expands the existing field on the relationship between British television and film cultures. It does so by examining the ways in which PSBs have been involved in film culture, as producers, distributors and exhibitors. It also discusses the significant changes to this relationship wrought by the coming into dominance of digital technologies, and the responses of the PSBs to digitalisation.
The thesis concentrates on three key aspects of the relationship between PSBs and film culture. Firstly, it discusses the production, distribution and exhibition of films via television institutions as a manifestation of media convergence. It discusses the fraught issue of medium specificity, when the institutions, technologies and platforms of one medium are involved in the production and exhibition of another. It considers the rhetorical turn towards media separation - or divergence - which works in tandem with the intertwining of moving image technologies and cultures.
Secondly, the thesis considers the effect of the institutional reputation on the critical and discursive reception of PSB film texts. The thesis explores how reference to the institutional 'brand' can affect the way in which texts are read. In some cases this can even affect whether or not they are read as 'film' texts at all.
Thirdly, the thesis considers the matter of aesthetic evaluation. Are discourses which are usually at play in the evaluation of PSB television work also brought to bear on their film texts? How might discourses of 'quality', which are a key part of the legitimation of PSB, apply when the texts produced are understood as part of film culture?
Taking a long view of the history of the relationship between PSBs and film culture, this thesis aims to initiate a debate into how the convergence of these two media in British national cinema has worked during a period of industrial, technological and cultural change.
Supervisor: Charlotte Brunsdon
This research is funded through the AHRC Doctoral (Open) Competition.
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Judi Dench and Ewan McGregor promote Film4 on Freeview, July 2006
H dot R dot Andrews at warwick dot ac dot uk