From the Field - Winter 2015

Critical Studies in Media Communication,
Volume 32,
Issue 1,
Winter 2015

Camille Johnson-Yale charts the shifting power-geometry of Hollywood labor in the postwar period by focusing on the debates over the Anglo-American Film Pact of 1948 and 1950. The Anglo-American Film Pact was created to define terms by which the Hollywood studios could collect rental fees from the then-cash poor United Kingdom following World War II. But soon this policy had far-reaching implications for the future of the motion picture industry, specifically production labor. Johnson-Yale looks at trade and popular press coverage of the Film Pact to trace how Hollywood unions came to terms with the emerging international division of motion picture production labor in the latter half of the 20th century. 

Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television,
Volume 35,
Issue 1,
Winter 2015

This article argues against the assumption that Flemish period films produced during the 1970s and 1980s were the direct result of an official Flemish film policy strategy. Drawing on original archival research and interviews with policy actors and film-makers, the author suggests that the film funding process was a complex, ambiguous one, where both the Minister of Culture's advisory board and the interests of Flemish public television and film producers played decisive roles. 

Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television,
Volume 35,
Issue 1,
Winter 2015

Elkins details the attempts in 1957 by then-NBC president Sylvester 'Pat' Weaver, Jr. to start a fourth American television network. Elkins draws on archival research to trace the development and eventual failure of Weaver's Program Service Network, demonstrating how the process displayed prominent discourses and practices within the television industry in the 1950s. These include notions of the public interest, "high culture" programming and quality audiences, and the changing economics of broadcasting. 

Media Culture Society,
Volume 37,
Issue 2,
March 2015

This article summarizes creative industries policy discourse in the United Kingdom, particularly the mounting political pressures that have aimed to change it in the last decade. Newsinger argues that despite the ever more explicit neoliberal attempts at radically restructuring the welfare state, the major institutional policy frameworks of the creative industries discourse have proved remarkably durable. Still, a rising reactionary cultural conservatism seeks to further undermine what remains of the policy's socially and politically progressive elements. 

Media Industries Journal,
Volume 1,
Issue 3,
Winter 2015

The third inaugural issue of the Media Industries Journal features new reflections on the state of the field from the journal's editorial board. Nitin Govil builds on his decade-long study of Hollywood and Bombay cinema to question how comparison functions in critical work on the media industries. Shin Dong Kim traces how the musical theater business in China developed with cooperation from Korean musical companies, arguing media production and consumption involves cultural and political filtering processes in order to be translated into different social contexts. Amanda Lotz's essay surveys the existing approaches, methods, foci, and theories central to studying media industries and posits the field's growth should not come at the expense of this variety. Vicki Mayer looks at the early 1900s when producers used romantic feelings about film and its supposed economic benefits to society to acquire free labor, and suggests that scholars should also take into account film producers' less noble motivations, such as greed. Ranjani Mazumdar notes how the world of "invisible workers" remains largely peripheral to the hype generated by media industries, thereby reinforcing existing social and class hierarchies, and urges scholars to focus on this invisible work. Toby Miller states that two interrelated themes need to be at the core of studying the media industries: first is a focus on cultural labor and second is a focus on the environment, specifically the media's destructive impact on the world's ecology. John Sinclair explains how traditional approaches to advertising texts and practices, such as the semiological analysis and ethnographic studies, have been superseded by the reorientation of advertising within a broader conceptual landscape of consumer culture, and by contemporary theory and research on branding. Joe Straubhaar focuses on Brazilian network television to trace a particular cultural industry's growth from import substitution to national self-sufficiency to global prominence. Serra Tinic looks at the Canadian television series Orphan Black, and its acquisition by BBC America, to illustrate how national and channel branding expectations of distributors facilitate new forms of transnational partnerships. Jing Wang highlights the growing integration of TV and social media to consider the implications of the "social TV" sector, particularly whether there is a future for television as an advertising medium. Finally, Janet Wasko reviews some early analyses of media industries to emphasize that recent research should not neglect historic precedents for media industry studies. 

New Media & Society,
Volume 17,
Issue 2,
February 2015

Suzanne Scott examines two successful Kickstarter campaigns, the comic anthology Womanthology: Heroic and the Veronica Mars movie, to consider the impact of "fan-ancing" on the producer/consumer relationship. Although fan-financed endeavors have the potential to be industrially and culturally transformative works, Scott suggests that the limits of this "transformative" intervention need to be interrogated. She concludes that though fan-anced projects have the potential to recalibrate the moral economy between producers and fans, their transformative capacity is ultimately limited to fan's embrace or rejection of industrially dictated conceptions of "fan participation." 

New Media & Society,
Volume 17,
Issue 2,
February 2015

Matt Hills considers the case of the Veronica Mars Kickstarter campaign to argue that creator Rob Thomas enacted a form of "affective economics" by positioning himself as a fan-like showrunner who resisted commercial industry practices. Hills also theorizes Veronica Mars' fan-consumers as "crowdfunding poachers" who made use of the Kickstarter to shape their own fan identities at the same time that they willingly self-commodified their fandom. 

New Media & Society,
Volume 17,
Issue 2,
February 2015

This article focuses on how digital crowdfunding financing shapes video game development production. In particular, it details the interactions that typically occur between studios and players as part of crowdfunded development, noting how these activities inform aspects of video game design: first by evaluating the degree to which Kickstarter users can influence the details of a proposed project during a crowdfunding campaign and then by looking at whether developers involve crowdfunding communities within production once funding is secured. 

Telecommunications Policy,
Volume 39,
Issue 2,
March 2015

This study describes the trends in ownership of the audiovisual industries in Israel between 1984 and 2013. It includes changes in broadcast television, radio, cable and satellite delivered channels, broadband access, mobile communications, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), search engines and news websites. The study demonstrates that the Israeli system has shifted from a government owned and operated monopoly toward new forms of non-competitive structures, particularly vertically integrated media conglomerates. 

Velvet Light Trap,
Issue 75,
Winter 2015

Drawing on collections of studio corporate papers, Eric Hoyt focuses on the ground-level infrastructures and operations of distribution by showing how individual agents met the day-to-day challenges of collecting and transferring revenue from Japanese exhibitors back to the United States during the 1920-30s. Shawna Kidman's article examines how the comic book industry, facing public controversy in 1954 over its dubious morality, implemented a code of censorship that enabled and justified aggressive self-regulation by the major publishers. Karen Petruska analyzes how television producers sought to take advantage of a marketplace reorientation brought about by government policy in the 1970s and how, despite their failures, these attempts innovated "low" genres and complicated traditional notions of televisual quality. Rayna Denison focuses on the Japanese dorama (television drama series), a form that has inspired a relatively new transnational fandom, to argue for more engagement with distribution from fan studies. Nolwenn Mingant highlights the two aspects that determine the activities of the Hollywood majors in the Middle East and North Africa: while the Maghreb countries represent a weak market because of their lack of movie theaters, Middle Eastern countries provide an opportunity for the majors because of the expansion of moviegoing and state-of-the-art theaters. 

Bibliography