Heidi Keinonen

Keinonen Heidi.JPG

Television programme format as a site of cultural negotiation

The research project studies television programme format as a site of cultural negotiation. It focuses on format importation and cultural adaptation processes in Finnish television to explore the ways in which national and international television cultures have historically been combined. The main hypothesis of this study is that national and international aspects are inseparably intertwined in current television culture. As programme formats play a major role in television programming and essentially include a transnational level, they can be considered as sites of cultural negotiation. Instead of trying to spot the national and international features of a programme format, I will explore the actual sites and moments of cultural negotiation within television culture, that is television production, television text and reception.

The study has three main objectives. First, it aims to contribute to the field of television format study by introducing the concept of cultural negotiation and by developing methods for studying cultural adaptation. Second, it produces empirical knowledge and a periodical outline of the historical importation and adaptation of programme formats in Finland. Third, it offers general academic knowledge regarding the development of Finnish culture.

The study combines quantitative analysis of imported programming with qualitative case studies on the cultural adaptation of programme formats. The analysis covers the Finnish television history from the 1950s to 2010s and focuses on three genres: entertainment, factual programming and children’s programming. The study’s quantitative analysis focuses on the volume of imported programme formats. The body of the research material consists of the data about imported programme formats collected from the main terrestrial television channels in Finland (Yle TV1, Yle TV2, MTV3 and Nelonen). Reports published by the Ministry of Transport and Communications in the 2000s will also provide programme import volume data. The quantitative data will be analyzed in terms of year, broadcaster and genre.

The qualitative analysis will focus on cultural adaptation and production. A number of
programme formats in each genre are selected for case studies. The qualitative data will include the television texts, archive material about the licensing and production processes and interviews with production and broadcasting companies’ personnel. A comparison with adaptations produced in other countries will be made where possible. The reception will be studied by analysing a limited selection of the newspaper and magazine articles as well as internet discussions on these programmes. All the materials will be analysed by conducting a close textual and contextual analysis.

Key words: television history, format study, transnational television, programme import, television programme format, cultural adaptation, television production


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