Old and New Ghosts: Public Service Television and The Popular-a History

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This article proposes a history of the confrontations of European public service television with ‘the popular'. It defines the popular as any manifestation of massive and immediate pleasure. a definition wherein rhythm is crucial. Those mnrarnifestations occurred in reaction to programmes that did not fit, or fit uneasily, the educative and cultural. ideals prevalent in European public service. The popular was therefore regularly denied by public service, but its ghosts regularly came to haunt it. The article describes six such ghosts by order of entrance oil to the historical scene: game showvs; stars (hosts and newscasters); seriality (across genres); numbers (for nieasuririg audiences); Arnerica (success of American forniats and series); and voyveurisrn (especially in reality programming). The experience of public television has reflected the deep difficulty of European societies not only to deal with the notion of the popular, but also to conceptualize it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-304
Number of pages22
JournalEuropean Journal of Cultural Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Americanization
  • Europe
  • prograrnane
  • reality TV
  • seriality


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