Volume 5 Number 2 Autumn 2010 Abstracts
Policy and Issues:
Who Knows Television? Online Access and the Gatekeepers of Knowledge by Julia Noordegraaf
This article investigates the implications of online access to television archival material and the knowledge it represents. I discuss the impact of digitisation on the TV archive, and ask how that affects the role of the archivist as a gatekeeper to its knowledge. I argue that far from being a gatekeeper, the archivist becomes an editor of data generated by various agents. The article also questions the impact of this development on the status of television archives as repositories of television history - what happens to the 'history' in television history when its digitised source material becomes part of an eternal online present?
Archives in Public Service by Karl Knapskog
This article examines how European public service broadcasters manage and utilise their vast audiovisual archives, in light of their obligations to serve the public interest. Many broadcasters have ambitious plans for the digitisation of their archives and making them accessible to the general public. Drawing on examples from different European countries, the article examines economic, legal, political and practical obstacles to the realisation of a universal access to, and use of, these archives.
Heirlooms in the Living Room: Retrieving Television’s Hidden Histories and the Problem of Changing Formats by Máire Messenger Davies
This article raises issues about the preservation of television materials, including evaluations (economic, cultural and historic), which can determine what survives. It discusses changing formats, in particular from video to DVD, and the material impact upon teaching, as well as archiving. The main case study, Clayhanger (1976), concerns a prestigious costume drama, produced by the commercial British company, ATV. A subsidiary case study, in which the author had serendipitous access to some rare TV material, suggests that much historical audiovisual material exists not just in official archives, or corporate warehouses, but also often in private collections of videotapes.
Swiped or Wiped? Kaleidoscope’s Part in the Recovery of Lost Television Programmes by Chris Perry and Simon Coward
In recounting Kaleidoscope's contribution over two decades to retrieving and preserving 'lost' television programmes, this article traces the development of a non-official approach to archiving. From a starting point of a few enthusiasts, Kaleidoscope has built a database of its archive holdings and the location of over 250,000 surviving pieces of television. The article deals with resisting institutional policy and raises questions about what is lost and why. Paying particular attention to recovered fictions, the article also notes the serendipitous retrieval of a range of important programmes, or episodes, and their place in television history.
National Television Archives and their Role by Steve Bryant
Different countries have different approaches to the archiving of television for cultural and educational purposes. This article considers the role of the national television archive at a time when technological and structural changes offer both funding threats and digital opportunities, and opens a dialogue on the future approach of the BFI National Archive to questions of selection policy and co-operation with other national institutions.
Accessing TV History: Accessing BBC Archives by Jacquie Kavanagh and Adam Lee
The history of television in the United Kingdom is embedded in the history of the BBC itself. This short article explores how the BBC's archives have grown over the life of the Corporation and now contain extensive holdings for radio, TV and an extensive written archive including programme documents, correspondence and BBC publications. Demand for access is growing and the BBC is actively planning to widen access beyond the current existing arrangements.
Stories That Never End: Television Fiction in the BFI National Archive by Lisa Kerrigan
Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2010, the BFI National Archive is one of the world's largest collections of film and television. This article is a short exploration of the Archive's television fiction collections and the ways in which they may be accessed by researchers.
The Work of the Archive in the Age of Digital Reproduction: Featured Collections at the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research by Michele Hilmes
One of the first archives to begin collecting in the area of film, radio, television and theatre, the WCFTR recently launched its Featured Collections digital exhibit as an experiment in bringing its collections to wider public view through scholarly contextualisation and digitised selections from print, film and video materials.
Images for the Future: Will They Make TV-Scholars Happy? by Sabine Lenk
Between 2007 and 2014 the Dutch government will make available 154 million euros to preserve and digitise millions of meters of film and magnetic sound track. One of the beneficiaries is the Dutch broadcasting archive. This article discusses different strategies implemented by the institution to commercialise the digitised collection and give access to it. In particular it raises the question whether scholarly interests can be served by the institution's policies.
Television as Utopia: Trends in Television Fiction over the Past 30 Years, through the INPUT Archive by Glòria Salvadó Corretger
Located on the campus of the Pompeu Fabra, University in Barcelona, the INPUT Archive is a collection of over 2,500 television programmes, containing the most important pieces produced by public television channels around the world from the late 1970s until the present day. It is an extremely valuable resource for the study of the trends in public television production over the last 30 years. This article explores the area of television fiction.
Modern Viewers, Feudal Television Archives: How to Study German Fernsehspiele of the 1960s from a National Perspective by Stewart Anderson
This article discusses problems in obtaining access to German television archives and, more specifically, the challenges involved in studying the history of German TV drama of the 1960s when the Fernsehspiel was the most popular genre and many broadcasts were perceived as national events. However, several factors have made it difficult to study German television history in its totality, specifically incompleteness/inaccessibility of source material, insularity on the part of the stations, and the regional structure of the ARD. To overcome these deficiencies, I propose a number of possible solutions including a broad, inductive approach to recreating a pan-German history of television.
What Was Canada? Locating the Language of an Empty National Archive by Michele Byers and Jennifer VanderBurgh
With specific reference to the Canadian context, this essay considers the issue of archive within the particularities of national systems, as well as national desires for preservation (or lack thereof). We consider these factors alongside the question of digitisation and how the archive mitigates the production and afterlife of small screen fictions. Using two case studies, we consider how the availability of television texts via publicly accessible archives becomes meaningful in the production of distinctive televisual languages at the national and the transnational level.
The Trouble with Archie: Locating and Accessing Primary Sources for the Study of the 1970s US Sitcom, All in the Family by Kathleen Collins
The US television sitcom, All in the Family was groundbreaking in its social relevance with regard to contemporary issues of race, class, gender, sexual orientation and politics, among others. The interest in All in the Family continues into the 21st century, and television historians and fans continue to seek out elusive historical video of the show. The author addresses the challenges in discovering, locating and accessing primary source visual material for its study and speculates on the future of accessibility of historical broadcasts, the impact on television studies and potential solutions.
Television as an Archive of Memories? Cultural Memory and its Limits on the Finnish Public Service Broadcaster’s Online Archive by Mari Pajala
European public service broadcasters have begun to make parts of their programme archives available as online television archives. This article discusses the implications of this move for the relationship between television and memory. Contributing to discussions on mediated memory, it argues that online archives increasingly associate television as a medium with history and memory. Moreover, the article considers how cultural memory works as an online television archive. The article is based on an analysis of the Finnish public service broadcaster YLE's online archive Elävä arkisto (The Living Archive), focusing particularly on its section on television drama. Elävä arkisto is discussed in relation to the online archives of other European public service broadcasters (BBC, RTÉ, RTVE, SVT).
Writing the History of Telenovelas under Brazilian Military Rule (1964-1985): Censorship Reports Instead of Audiovisual Archives? by Nahuel Ribke
This article describes the problems of accessing audiovisual archives when trying to write the history of Brazilian telenovelas under the military rule in Brazil (1964-1985). It proposes the analysis of censorship reports on television products as a way to compensate for the lack of access to audiovisual material, using the Censor Archives as an extremely rich source that could help partially to recover the history of Brazilian television under military rule. At the same time, it raises important methodological questions which should be taken into account by researchers.
‘It Ought To Be a Dream’: Archives and Establishing the History of BBC Light Entertainment Production, 1975-87 by Heather Sutherland
This article offers an insight into the experience of working on Volume VI of the Official History of the BBC. My research was in Light Entertainment operations, 1975-1987, with 'unrestricted access' to the archives. It quickly became apparent that any general challenge in accessing and using the BBC's own records is intensified in examining the production-history specifics of Light Entertainment. Whilst the written archives remained important, incompleteness in documentation necessitated a large number of interviews. Non-documented aspects of day-to-day operations were discovered, as well as knowledge gained about the people, atmosphere and events that shaped the LE Group's history.
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