• Tradition, Nation and the Power of the Schedule

    Derek Johnston (see profile)
    Television, Television--Study and teaching, History, Group identity, Identity (Psychology)
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    Power and the Media: International Association for Media and History (IAMHIST) XXVII Conference
    Conf. Org.:
    International Association for Media and History
    Conf. Loc.:
    Newcastle University, Newcastle, England
    Conf. Date:
    16-18 July 2019
    Broadcast history, Britishness, Television studies, Cultural identity, Identity
    Permanent URL:
    In a chapter title in his book Seeing Things: Television in the Age of Uncertainty John Ellis claimed that scheduling is 'where power lies in television' (130), because of its importance in deciding what programmes are produced and how they are presented in order to fit the requirements of different broadcast slots. While it can readily be argued that this power is waning, as television continues its shift to becoming an on-demand medium, Ellis did not consider the wider issue of the power exerted by the representation of seasonal tradition through broadcast. While Paddy Scannell recognised that 'the calendrical role of broadcasting' demonstrated the BBC's role as 'perhaps the central agent of the national culture' (17), this also does not acknowledge that the BBC covered multiple national cultures. This paper will demonstrate that the BBC was responsible for disseminating a particularly English conception of culture as a national, UK-wide culture through an examination of scheduling related to traditions of Halloween and Christmas. Through an exploration of historical schedules, it shows how local traditions were initially treated as 'quaint' and even backward, while English traditions became dominant. However, as the twentieth century progressed, these traditions were themselves challenged by the popularisation of American celebrations. These conflicts between lived tradition, popular celebration and broadcast tradition created a dissonance between certain identities and the dominant identity disseminated by the BBC through its scheduling of traditions.
    This text was the original script for this paper and does not represent the exact record of what was delivered.
    Last Updated:
    4 years ago
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