television exports

television exports
   Television exports are the sale of programmes by producers in one national market to broadcasters in another; although, with the increased internationalization of television in terms of production and broadcasting, a clear cut definition is no longer possible. Individual programme exports take a number of forms: there are the straightforward sales of programmes made for a specific national market; pre-sales of programmes not yet made, the joint production of programmes as co-productions, and the selling of formats or programme concepts. The selling of formats usually occurs when the original programme appears too culturally specific for export but, by remaking the programme, it can be tailored for a different national audience (for example, Cracker, originally made for the ITV network, has been remade for ABC in America).
   By the 1960s, a flourishing international market in programmes appeared, stimulated both by the need to fill more broadcast hours and the supply of popular and cheaply sold American programmes. British broadcasters, keen to derive income from programme sales, soon established themselves as the second largest exporter of programmes after the Americans. A notable early success was the ITV company, Associated Television (ATV). By tailoring productions more to the needs of the American market they were able to sell a number of series to the major US networks, including The Avengers, The Saint and Dangerman. While ATV’s success was initially rewarded, gaining the Queen’s Awards for Export, the loss of its franchise in 1980 was partly attributed to this export led policy that neglected the needs of its domestic audience.
   By the 1970s, Britain had established a reputation for producing quality programmes including historical dramas (Brideshead Revisited, Upstairs, Downstairs) and factual programmes (Civilisation, The World at War). The main market for this product was, at this time, the USA, though programmes were almost always sold to the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) rather than to the main US networks. Increasingly, Europe has overtaken the USA as the major market for British programmes. With increasing costs and a squeeze on revenues, the importance of exports, at least for some genres of programming, looks to be on the increase. While some worries are voiced about the possible consequence in terms of an internationalization of domestic programmes for export requirements, it must be noted that the national market is still the most important in terms of revenue.
   See also: imported television
   Further reading
    Collins, R. (1990) Television: Policy and Culture, London: Unwin Hyman.

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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