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Creativity and commerce in independent television production : developing documentaries in the UK and Germany

Zoellner, Anna (2010) Creativity and commerce in independent television production : developing documentaries in the UK and Germany. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This thesis aims to contribute to the growing field of media production studies through an ethnographic study of independent television production companies in Great Britain and Germany. Discourses of self-enterprise, free markets and consumer choice supported by technological developments, audience fragmentation and neoliberal legislation have led to a shift from a formerly predominantly public-service orientated broadcasting environment to a commercialised, competitive and consumer-orientated television industry. Because they seldom command high ratings, 'serious' documentaries are not a high priority for broadcasters compared to other programme genres, and a formerly protectionist attitude toward documentary is being eroded alongside public service broadcasting values. The thesis examines the impact of these developments on independent companies involved in documentary production. It inquires into the ways in which the new commercial production structures affect the work of independent documentary makers and asks to what extent they constrain or enable individual creativity in the development of original documentary programming. Combining participant observation with practitioner interviews, the study analyses the complex ways in which television workers adapt to creativity-commerce tensions. It describes how commercial imperatives cause independents to act as service-providers for broadcasters and to conform to predetermined programme preferences. The empirical results show that a sense of professional identity alongside occupational values and genre traditions play a particularly important role in this context. They disguise commercial conformity and prevent or dissolve creativity-commerce tensions. At the same time, they form the basis for an understanding of programme quality that is independent from and potentially in conflict with economic objectives. Consequently, television workers both accept their commercial supplier role and the creative constraints it entails, and are also critically reflexive about the production culture and their own role within it. The thesis will discuss the interplay of these competing values and address the consequences they have for the developed programmes and the documentary genre in general.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Media and Communication (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.535134
Depositing User: Ethos Import
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2016 12:00
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2016 12:00
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/11300

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