1. How do entertainment media (TV, film, music) contribute to a country’s soft power?
2. What do Bollywood and Nollywood teach us about global cinema cultures?
3. Present an example of a glocalized TV show (not discussed in this lesson) and explain why it’s an example of glocalization.
Reflections should be 300-500 words long.
Week 11 Overview
This week we discuss development communication. Like last week, we will take a specific theme and relate it to globalization as a theory and process. The purpose here is not to teach you how to practice in this field, but to get us thinking about how different cultures/countries/governments can utilize development communication to impact lives in disenfranchized communities.
How much do we know about development communication? What does dominant ideology say about the values and process of development? What is the relationship between development, modernization and colonization? How can development be contextualized in a particular society?
We will discuss the relationships between globalization, culture, politics and the music, TV and film industries.
You’ll read some interesting articles about global music, TV, film and music trends. The journal articles and blogposts will map the evolution of global TV culture and the intricacies of reality TV in Africa. You will also learn about music culture in Northern Ghana, Bollywood and Nollywood. We will revisit globalization again. But you’ll learn some new perspectives that will help you understand globalization when it comes to music, TV and motion pictures.
We’ll apply that to music, TV and film not only as entertainment but also as a political tool. Consider these questions when studying the materials: How do they help promote national interests? How can they empower local communities and individuals to talk back? How do they get co-opted by different cultures?
These are all questions that we will address this week. There are a few additional videos in the lesson too. Hope you’ll find them interesting.
- To analyze the relationships between media, culture, development and globalization.
- To critique modernization within the context of development and cultural issues.
- To discuss/analyze the relationships between globalization, culture, politics and the music industry.
- To understand concepts in the literature on globalization (e.g. cultural hybridity/homogenization).
- Development Communication
- Cultural Hybridity
- Cultural Homogenization
- Soft Power
- European Journal ofhttp://ejc.sagepub.com/content/26/4/293The online version of this article can be found at:DOI: 10.1177/0267323111423414 2011 26: 293European Journal of CommunicationJean K. Chalabya global industryThe making of an entertainment revolution: How the TV format trade becamePublished by:http://www.sagepublications.com can be found at:European Journal of CommunicationAdditional services and information for http://ejc.sagepub.com/cgi/alertsEmail Alerts: http://ejc.sagepub.com/subscriptionsSubscriptions: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.navReprints: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.navPermissions: http://ejc.sagepub.com/content/26/4/293.refs.htmlCitations: What is This?- Dec 22, 2011Version of Record >> at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV on December 27, 2012ejc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
- European Journal of Communication26(4) 293–309© The Author(s) 2011 Reprints and permission: sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.navDOI: 10.1177/0267323111423414ejc.sagepub.comThe making of an entertainment revolution:How the TV format trade became a global industryJean K. ChalabyCity University, UKAbstractFrom its humble origins in the 1950s, the TV format industry has become a global trade worth billions of euros per year. Few viewers are aware that their favourite shows may be local adaptations but formats represent a significant percentage of European broadcasting schedules in access prime time and prime time. Formatted brands exist in all TV genres and reach almost every country in the world. This article defends the thesis that the format business turned into a global industry in the late 1990s. Before this turning point, the few formatted programmes were most likely American game shows that travelled slowly and to a limited number of territories. Following an overview of this early period, this article examines the convergence of factors that created a world format market. These include the emergence of four exceptional formats (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Survivor, Big Brother and Idols), the formation of a programming market, the rise of the independent production sector and the globalization of information flows within the TV industry.Keywordsmedia globalization, transnational television, TV format industry, TV formats, world format marketTV formats: Inconspicuous globalizationWhile some aspects of media globalization are clear for all to see, such as the Hollywood star system, others are more subtle. In the case of transnational TV formats, audiences are often blissfully unaware that some of their favourite shows are the local adaptations of programmes that originated elsewhere. British viewers have no inkling that University Challenge (ITV, 1962– 87; BBC 2, 1994 – present) is the local version of an American show called College Bowl, or that both Dragon’s Den and Hole in the Wall originated in Corresponding author:Jean K Chalaby, Department of Sociology, City University, Northampton Square, London EC1V 0HB, UK. Email: email@example.comEJCXXX10.1177/0267323111423414ChalabyEuropean Journal of CommunicationArticle at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV on December 27, 2012ejc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
- 294European Journal of Communication 26(4)Japan. Few in France suspect that the country’s most popular quiz show, Questions Pour un Champion, which has aired on a public service channel since 1988, is an adaptation of Going for Gold, an old Australian TV show. And not many Dutch and German viewers would ever imagine that their favourite soap since the early 1990s, Goede Tijden, Slechte Tijden (the Netherlands) and Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten (Germany), began life as an adaptation of the Australian soap, The Restless Years (Moran, 1998: 56, 61).From humble origins in the 1950s, the global TV format industry has become a €3.1 billion-a-year global trade (FRAPA, 2009: 7–8). Formats might travel unnoticed but today they represent a significant percentage of the European broadcasting schedule in access prime time and prime time. The hundreds of formats that are traded each year span all TV genres and reach almost every territory. This article defends the thesis that the format business turned into a global industry in the late 1990s. Before this turning point occurred, the few programmes that were formatted were typically American game shows, which travelled slowly and to a limited number of territories. Following an overview of this early period, the article briefly highlights the main features of the contemporary format industry before analysing the factors behind the formation of a world format market. These include the emergence of four exceptional formats (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Survivor, Big Brother and Idols), the formation of a programming market, the rise of the independ-ent production sector and the globalization of the information flow within the TV industry. First, however, this article defines the concept of format, emphasizing both its narrative and transnational dimensions.The TV format: A transnational practiceFormats are notoriously difficult to fathom. Cynics say that a format is any show that anyone is willing to pay for, and some lawyers claim there is no such thing as a format since ideas cannot be copyrighted. The industry dissents with the latter point, pointing out that formats are not merely made of ideas but combine a great deal of expertise (Lyle, interview 2009).Short of a consensus, two key aspects of formats can be emphasized. First, a format must have a distinctive narrative dimension. The Format Recognition and Protection Association (FRAPA), founded by David Lyle in 2000, defines a format as follows: ‘In the making of a television programme, in the ordering of the television elements such that a distinctive narrative progression is created’ (Gilbert, interview 2008).In three key genres of the format trade – reality, factual entertainment and the talent competition – a good format creates and organizes a story in a fashion that is not dissimilar to scripted entertainment, with all the highs and lows, tensions and conflicts, twists and conventions of drama. These formats are driven by an engine, ‘essentially the rules’ (Keane and Moran, 2009), which is designed to create dramatic arcs and produce story lines. In factual entertainment and talent shows, the narrative arc is based on the journey that the contestant makes and which, in the most dramatic cases, transforms their lives. This can include a process of self-discovery (e.g. WifeSwap, Who do You Think You Are?), the opening up of a new career (e.g. Masterchef), better understanding of some global issues (Blood, Sweat And . . .) and of course the journey to global stardom (Got Talent, Idols and The X Factor). at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV on December 27, 2012ejc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
- Chalaby295Drama is also created with trigger moments (also known as ‘jeopardy’ moments). In reality TV, such moments are produced by unexpected twists or nomination nights. In quiz shows, jeopardy is generated with questions worth a large sum of money. In talent shows, such moments occur when the presenter announces the outcome of the public vote. The drama that is on display in these programmes is similar to scripted entertainment. The main difference lies in the way these stories are produced: it is the engine of the format that helps create the narrative as a programme progresses, whereas in fiction, the story is written first and then played out.Another dimension of formats is that they are inherently transnational. Indeed, since the licence of a show cannot be bought twice in the same territory (for the same period of time), a programme becomes a format only once it is adapted outside its country of origin. According to Michel Rodrigue, one of the industry’s founding fathers:Aformatisnotaproduct,itisavehicle,andthustheonly raison d’être of formats is the international market. . . . the format is a vehicle which enables an idea to cross boundaries, cultures, and so on, and to be localized in every place where it stops. (Rodrigue, interview 2008)1When a show is adapted, its concept is not the only element that crosses borders: formats constitute a significant transfer of expertise. Format purchasers – the licensees – obtain a document that is known as the ‘bible’, which has several purposes. Bibles teach local teams everything they need to know in order to produce the show. They run to hundreds of pages and contain information about run-throughs, budgets, scripts, set designs, graphics, casting procedures, host profile, the selection of contestants and every other possible aspect associ-ated with the show’s production (EBU, 2005; Moran, 2006).Bibles lay out format rules. Local producers can be allowed to alter the ‘flesh’ of a format but can never touch the ‘skeleton’. Not many shows are successful in their home market and even fewer have international potential, therefore those that acquire a track record do so because of the very precise way in which they have been designed. An inter-national format is geared up to hit specific points throughout the narrative and constructed to take viewers through a succession of emotional states. In this respect a format can be compared to a bridge: its architecture is not a matter of mere aesthetics but of civil engi-neering and those who tamper with it risk seeing it collapse! Thus a bible is intended to protect the show’s mechanics and guard against ill-thought modifications.However, bibles do contain a certain amount of local knowledge. These documents are constantly updated with information accumulated in the territories where the show is pro-duced. If an idea that is tried in a market works, it is passed on; if it fails, licensees are warned against it. As Sue Green, an industry veteran, explains, a format is a show that has ‘been debugged’ to remove ‘the mistakes that have been made that won’t be made again’ (Green, interview 2010). And therein lies one of the economic reasons for licensing a format. As production is being refined from one territory to another – and from one year to the next – costs are gradually driven down. The refinement of the model, which is con-signed in the bible, constitutes one of the key economic benefits of format licensing.Information is also passed on by consultant producers (sometimes known as ‘flying’ producers), whose role it is to help local teams set up the show. They will stay on site for up to two weeks, depending on the complexity of the production, spending time in at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV on December 27, 2012ejc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
- 296European Journal of Communication 26(4)pre-production, production and in the studio. If the show is still produced in its country of origin, local teams can be invited to visit the original set (Jarvis, interview 2008).A successful transfer of expertise is in the interest of all. Formats are bought with the hope of a ratings success and licensees need to understand the show’s principles as well as they can. But obtaining a local hit can be equally important for the vendor because a ratings failure in a major territory, even after a good launch, can damage a format’s pros-pects. Indeed, the heads of acquisitions and programming that scan the world TV market quickly lose interest in a show if they sense any sign of weakness (Clark, interview 2008).Thus, formats operate in an international market of interdependent territories: they do not merely cross borders, their performance across borders determines their fate. Formats’ transnationalism is further underlined by their hybrid nature, since they adapt as they travel. In many instances, the knowledge acquired in different territories helps to refine the rules that make a format a unique show.2 In light of this discussion, I suggest the fol-lowing definition: a format is a show that can generate a distinctive narrative and is licensed outside its country of origin in order to be adapted to local audiences.TV formats before the global shiftAdaptations – legally licensed or not – have been around since the early days of broad-casting. An early post-war sound broadcast format, was a comedy panel show called It Pays To Be Ignorant. It first aired on CBS radio in 1942, and the BBC paid a band leader named Maurice Winnick £50 per programme for the right to use the American scripts in a British adaptation retitled Ignorance Is Bliss. It first aired on 22 July 1946 on the BBC’s Light Programme and went through several series until 1953.3 It was shown once on television.The next show to cross the Atlantic was Twenty Questions, which was owned by WOR radio station on Broadway, New York, and aired on the BBC Light Programme for the first time on 26 February 1947.4What’s My Line? was the world’s first format to debut on television. It premiered on CBS in February 1950 (Schwartz et al., 1999: 246), and the British version debuted on the BBC’s television service on 16 July 1951, with Maurice Winnick acting as agent again (see Chalaby, forthcoming).5These deals set the scene for the 1950s and 1960s, when the format trade essentially consisted of American shows travelling east to Europe, west to Australia and south to Latin America. Formats did not travel in the opposite direction until CBS adapted, with great success, a BBC sitcom called TillDeathUsDoPart, which premiered on the American network in January 1971 as All in the Family (Rouse, 1999).Over the next two decades, no more than a handful of companies were involved in the fledging international format trade. The first was Fremantle Corporation, an international TV distribution company established by Paul Talbot in 1952. Talbot began selling ready-made TV shows and his breakthrough with formats – also a giant leap for the trade itself – came in 1978 when he obtained the representation of the Goodson-Todman catalogue in Europe and the Middle East (Usdan, interview 2010). When Talbot added other US producers to his catalogue, the international merry-go-round of American game shows began in earnest. The first wave of formatted entertainment included shows that would become TV classics in many markets, such as The Dating Game, Family Feud, The Newlywed Game, ToTe l lt h eTr u t h, Password and The Price is Right (Guider, 2005). By at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV on December 27, 2012ejc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
- Chalaby297the late 1980s, Fremantle had become ‘Europe’s largest supplier of game shows with 43 different series in production in nine countries’ (see Chalaby, forthcoming).6Another format pioneer was Reg Grundy, who began adapting US game shows for the fledgling Australian market in the late 1950s (Moran, 1998: 42). His company interna-tionalized two decades later notably when he acquired the representation of the Goodson-Todman catalogue outside Europe and the Middle East (Moran, 1998: 45–6; Usdan, interview 2010). Grundy Worldwide – the first company to set up a global network of production companies – was particularly successful in Europe, selling game shows such as Sale of the Century and Man O Man, and adapting two Australian soaps, The Restless Years and Sons and Daughters, in various European markets (Moran, 1998).Action Time was among the first European companies to get involved in the format trade. It was established in 1979 by Jeremy Fox, who left Granada to set up as an independ-ent game show producer. While at ITV he had created The Krypton Factor and when the broadcaster went on strike he took the tape to America. The US version was picked by ABC and The Krypton Factor became one of the first foreign game shows to be purchased by an American network. Once in the USA, Fox was offered American shows, and he startedimportingformatsinlargenumbers,including Catchphrase and Truthor Consequences, the latter being one of the key sources for Game for a Laugh, a popular 1980s light entertainment show (Schwartz et al., 1999: 121–2, 236–7; Fox, interview 2010). Fox only adapted US formats to the UK, but his successors Stephen Leahy and Trish Kinane (who took over in 1988) expanded sales to Europe and international hits included The Alphabet Game and Yo u ’ v eB e e nF r a m e d ! (Fry, 1995; Leahy and Kinane, interview 2010).Finally, two Dutch production companies, Joop van den Ende’s JE Entertainment and John de Mol Productions, became involved in the format business at an early stage. Van den Ende, a TV producer with roots in theatre, began selling home-grown and acquired formats in the Netherlands and Germany, with a few deals in Southern Europe, in the early 1980s. JE Entertainment adapted several Dutch studio-based programmes (notably The Honeymoon Quiz and The Soundmix Show), and UK drama series (including Thames Television’s The Bill and London Weekend Television’s sitcom The Two of Us) in various markets (Bell, 1994; Fuller, 1993; Moran, 1998: 33–4). John de Mol Productions was a younger company but was equally active in the format market in the 1980s, selling shows like Love Letters and All You Need Is Love – two programmes that prefigured reality TV – in about five European markets (Bell, 1994; Moran, 1998: 34–5). The two companies merged in January 1994, creating Endemol Entertainment, a company that was soon to play a key role in the globalization of the format market (see later) (Moran, 2006: 91–4; Smith and Life, 1993).By the 1990s, the format business was characterized by the following features: the backbone of the trade consisted of game shows, many of them American. The USA exported many of its shows, as discussed earlier, and imported none (Table 1). The UK, the Netherlands, France and Japan were among format exporters, but not on the scale of the USA. Then, formats travelled slowly. The Price is Right, which premiered on 26 November 1956 (CBS), waited nearly three decades for its first overseas adaptation. Jeopardy!, another classic US game show, had travelled only to Australia, the UK, France and Italy by the late 1980s. Family Feud, which launched on ABC in 1976 and is today licensed in about 30 territories, was in only a handful of countries before 1990 (Gilbert, interview 2008; Jarvis, interview 2008; Usdan, interview 2010). at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV on December 27, 2012ejc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
- 298European Journal of Communication 26(4)The format flow remained modest in size because few companies were involved in the trade, relatively few shows were formatted for export, and those that were travelled to a limited number of territories. Formats essentially circulated between the USA, Western Europe and Australia. As Table 1 indicates, East European countries and the rest of the world imported relatively few formats. Thus, a show exported to more than 10 countries was considered a great success, and only a handful exceeded this number.All this changed at the turn of the 21st century, when the format trade went global. Trade figures exploded: the number of formats in circulation, the number of territories they travelled to, the number of companies involved and the volume and speed of busi-ness. This new era was heralded by four ‘super-formats’.The four ‘super-formats’The notion of a ‘super-format’ was developed by Peter Bazalgette (2005), and he defines it as formats that ‘break new ground’ in terms of originality, world domination and cash generation (Bazalgette, interview 2009). The four super-formats described in this section certainly benefited from the new circumstances that began to shape the broadcasting industry in the late 1990s (see later), but the men behind them also helped to change this industry by translating these circumstances into creative projects, thereby highlighting the strategic importance of formats.Millionaire: The game that rewrote the rule bookWho Wants to Be a Millionaire? was developed by David Briggs, Steve Knight, Mike Whitehill and Paul Smith, all working for Smith’s production company, Celador (Bazalgette, 2005). When the show premiered on ITV (UK) on Friday 4 September 1998, it opened up a new era in the history of formats. By Monday morning, Smith learnt that the show had attracted a 44 percent of audience share, and by the afternoon his PA was getting enquiries from all over the world. Within seven days they had collected 40 applications from interested buyers (Smith, interview 2009). The first deal was signed with Australia’s Channel 9 because a contingent from the network had literally camped in Celador’s reception and Smith felt Table 1.Number of home-grown vs imported game showsUSAUKFranceItalySpainGermanyHollandEastern EuropeAfricaAustraliaAsia (incl. China)JapanLatin AmericaTotal number of game shows3424111071699157303014Home-grown349420356130233012Imported format015787134327702Source: Adapted from Cooper-Chen (1994: 270–89). at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV on December 27, 2012ejc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
- Chalaby299thatthey‘haddemonstratedtheircommitmenttotheshow’(Smith,interview2009). Processing approximately one application a week, at least 35 deals were signed within a year and the format had reached 108 territories just before its 10th anniversary, breaking all previous records (Smith, interview 2009; Spencer, interview 2008).Millionaire became a planetary success because Smith injected a large dose of drama into the game show genre. The first pilots of the show, which Smith had struggled to get commis-sioned, looked like a Bloomberg screen. Around the tiny video box showing the host and contestant, were the money tree, the lifelines, the question and the four possible answers. The show was ready to become a hit once all these elements were stripped away to focus on the drama that was being played out on screen (Spencer, interview 2008). Contestants would have two cameras trained on them, filming close-ups of their agony as the stakes rose:. . . the most dramatic thing is to look at a close-up of that person when they’re under pressure. And so there’s two permanent close-up cameras, one with a close-up of the face, and the second one with a slightly looser shot with, down the right hand side, . . . the various information about where they are and the ladder as to how far they’ve climbed up, and also what lifelines they’ve used. And the director can choose either one at any time, either to provide the drama or to remind people at home exactly what part of the programme a person has managed to get to. (Smith, interview 2009)Millionaire was also the first branded international TV show. Only minute local vari-ations are allowed on the show as most aspects are defined in the bible, including the music, opening titles, type of host and questions, studio set, lighting, even down to the camera movements. This policy was dictated by a necessity to protect the show’s mechan-ics but also by the need to guard the coherence of the brand across markets. This mattered more than ever before because Smith had had the foresight to retain the show’s ancillary rights (those connected to licensing and merchandising). Thus in any given territory, the TV broadcast and ancillary rights were sold separately, and the local producer would only be given about 10 percent of the revenue derived from the ancillary rights (Smith, interview 2009). Millionaire’s merchandising was comprehensive and expanded to 140 product lines – from board games to Christmas crackers – and at one stage represented 40 percent of the format revenue. The television show was simply considered a shop window for all the merchandising behind it (Spencer, interview 2008). Both in terms of international reach and exploitation of intellectual property, Millionaire set new benchmarks in inter-national television and was a true game changer for the industry.Discovering a new planet: Reality TVThe (short) histories of reality-based programming and the format industry became entwined in the late 1990s, when Survivor became one of the world’s most successful TV franchises. The show was developed by Charlie Parsons and his creative team at Planet 24, then a small British independent company he controlled alongside Waheed Alli and Bob Geldof.Survivor’s revolutionary idea was its eliminating procedure, whereby contestants voted each other out of the game week after week. Parsons later explained that they hit upon this mechanism of voting out – as opposed to a phone vote that can be unreliable and unfair – because ‘it wasn’t about people being eliminated, it was about who was the hero [and] who would win at the end’ (Parsons, interview 2009a). The mechanism formed an essential at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV on December 27, 2012ejc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
- 300European Journal of Communication 26(4)part of the show’s engine because it began to dictate contestants’ behaviour as to who formed alliances and conspired against each other, delivering drama and tension on a daily basis.Gary Carter – at the time head of Planet 24’s international sales team and who became a pivotal figure in the format industry – struggled to sell the show to broadcasters, who could not visualize the drama of a bunch of people on a beach. He managed to sell two multi-territory options to Endemol and Strix in 1994. Endemol did nothing with it but Anna Brakenhielm, at the time head of Stockholm-based Strix, eventually convinced the Swedish public broadcaster to commission the show. SVT called it Expedition Robinson and it became a great ratings success in Sweden. Brakhenhielm subsequently sold the show to Norway, Denmark and then Germany (Brakenhielm, interview 2009; Carter, interview 2008).It would take another three years for the show to air in America, where the rights were picked by Mark Burnett, the creator of Eco-Challenge. He began production in March 2000 in Borneo and the show premiered on CBS two months later. The many millions of dollars spent on production and the 400-strong crew involved in the making of each episode helped the show to become a ratings sensation, where the second series beat Friends on a Thursday night (Burnett, 2005: 119). The glossy US version prompted broadcasters worldwide to get hold of the show’s local rights, and the format eventually acquired a geographical footprint of about 40 territories in the first half of the 2000s. By 2009, there were 43 local versions of Survivor, which covered 73 territories because of two pan-regional versions in Africa and the Middle East (Parsons, pers. comm. 2009b). But unlike Millionaire, it took the best part of the 1990s before the show turned into an international success.Big BrotherWhile Survivor is a hybrid between game show and reality TV, Big Brother – at least in its original conception – is more firmly rooted in the observational genre of reality televi-sion. It became a global ratings hit and a cultural phenomenon because it was an original idea that pushed the boundaries of acceptability. Big Brother, which was devised by John de Mol and his creative team at Endemol, launched on 17 September 1999 on Veronica, a Dutch free-to-air channel. In the Netherlands – as in all the territories it travelled to – the show faced a barrage of criticism and moral outrage (Bazalgette, 2005). De Mol, however, expressed different views when he addressed his team on launch day:Guys – Big Brother will be for Endemol what Mickey Mouse is for Disney. We are working on something that is going to be huge: twenty years from now, talking about television, they will talk about TV before Big Brother and TV after Big Brother. (cited in Bazalgette, 2005: 143)The pep-talk was hyperbole but it is undeniable that 10 years on Big Brother has had a significant impact on world television. About 30 licences were sold by the mid-2000s, including two pan-regional versions in Africa and the Middle East (where the show was taken off air after a few days) (Bazalgette, 2005: 287–90). Since then, the show has reached its 10th season in many important TV markets including Brazil, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and the USA.Big Brother was also the first format to be a multi-media brand that can be broadcast on numerous platforms: terrestrial television, cable channels (24-hour coverage and at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV on December 27, 2012ejc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
- Chalaby301complementary shows), online and via hand-held devices. And since the show contains many interactive features, each platform was successfully turned into an income stream (Bazalgette, 2005; interview 2009).Idols: Opportunity Knocks again, again and again!The last super-format that helped turn the fortunes of the trade was Pop Idol, as the original version was named in the UK. Opportunity Knocks – a programme first aired on the BBC Light Programme in February 1949 that went on to become a TV success – is often referred to as the first talent show, but the genre is older. The first such show was, quite likely, Major Bowes and His Original Amateur Hour, which began on WHN New York in 1934 and moved to the major radio networks (NBC, CBS and ABC) in subsequent years (Buxton and Owen, 1972: 192–3). Interestingly, the host struck a gong ‘to indicate that the contest-ant had met defeat’ (Buxton and Owen, 1972: 192–3). In Britain, The Carroll Levis Show, that aired 1942–54 and 1956–60 on the BBC Light Programme, also put amateurs before a panel of judges.7Today’s talent shows are reality-skewed in the sense that they include behind-the-stage scenes and place more e
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