This article recalls a major episode in the history of European public service television: the transformation of the representations of the public - from a "popular" audience, eager to be educated which came both from the right and the left, which still had a revolutionary people in view, the public became a popular audience eagerly seeking disreputable leisure in throngs: a return of the Ancient Regime's rabble. This episode constitues a challenge for theories of popular culture, all too often imprisonned traditional elitism, (left-wing) neo-elitism which claims than a non manipulated popular audience would have a "better taste", a (left-wing) neo-elitism, a neo-populism which rehabilitates the popular audience by dissolving it into the texts (Fiske), and finally a denial of popular audiences treated as a "fiction" (Hartley). Against a global view of television and its audience, it is necessary to go beyond the cultural hierarchies implicitly or explicitly at work in the dominant paradigms.
- Popular education
- Public service