Volume 7 Number 2 Autumn 2012 - SPECIAL ISSUE
Editorial by Guest Editors Janet McCabe and Barbara Villez
What was French television's cultural project at its début? Jean d’Arcy, head of the French television programme department from 1952 to 1959, certainly did not think it was about the ‘distribution’ of culture. According to him, television was first and foremost a means of expression and creation. The need to create imposes itself over everything, including the directors, who are asked to explore, experiment and invent meaning, in order to create a television work, whatever the programme genre, considered ‘cultural’ or not.
This article explores the renewal in documentary filmmaking in France in the late 1980s and 1990s. It argues that the foundation of the cultural and educational channel La Sept in 1986, followed by ARTE in 1992, gave rise to the development of a new French documentary 'school'. The paper examines the circumstances and individuals that shaped this school and identifies a subterranean link to the events of May 1968. It considers, in particular, the role of commissioning editor Thierry Garrel, alongside a small number of independent production companies, who contributed to this renaissance in documentary filmmaking and concludes with a consideration of what has happened since 2000.
Is It Really Just an Image? Thoughts on a TV Format by John Ellis
This reprinted article was first published in 1984. It is a cross-channel response to what was happening in France in the 1980s by someone working as a television producer in the UK. The paper looks at French documentary films produced by INA and considers the experimentation of these programmes in terms of form, style and aesthetics.
The Archives of French Television: The Challenge of the 4Cs by Isabelle Veyrat-Masson
France is ahead of its neighbours in Europe and beyond in terms of the conservation of radio and television archives, which originated with the creation of INA in 1975. This article explores how INA's archive policy can be understood less in terms of its criteria for conservation than in the development of its open access to the public. First only reserved for the channels and commercial use, the audiovisual archives were later made available to researchers thanks to the 1992 law on copyright registration. The most radical change affecting the model, which established the concept of archives, began in 2006 when the audiovisual archives were made available to all, thanks to digitalisation and the Internet. The article also considers the implications for collective memory and nationhood.
The TF1 Interview by Barbara Villez
This article focuses on France's most popular channel, TFI. It starts with a historical overview of the broadcaster and is followed by an interview with Nathalie Laurent, the artistic director of fictions at TFI. This dialogue focuses on the producing of television fictions at TF1, the decision to shift to the 52-minute format and the future direction of the channel.
Between Citizen Image and Consumer Discourse: Talk-Shows on French Television - Issues, History, Analysis by Patrick Charaudeau, Guy Lochard, Jean-Claude Soul
At the beginning of the 1980s in France, the transition from debate to talk-show was concomitant with political action related to the State's disengagement with, and the arrival of new private operators into, the television market. This period was characterised by an increased offering in programmes and the multiplication of discussion shows: debates, talkshows, reality-shows, magazines (special thematic reports on societal subjects). This article explores how these programmes evolved and how they passed from a ‘glitter television’ to a ‘mirror-television’ concept, which presented a deliberate subjectification of the human experience, by establishing several specific programme mechanisms, various speech roles and chosen themes.
Wakening France: Observations on Télématin by Ian Christie
This short reflective article focuses on the only breakfast show in France, Télématin (1985-present). It considers the artistry of its mise-en-scène and the role played by its host, William Leymergie, in creating the policy for the show.
Since the emergence of television, crime news has increasingly acquired a prominent place in contemporary public debate. These stories have gone from being minor news items to the main headline. This article retraces that historic shift as a complex articulation between first the expansion of crime stories in the news, and the transformation of political power (speeches, communication strategies, penal measures) that seeks to fulfill its regal mission of protecting citizens.
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