14th - 15th October 2021|
Broadcasting, Reloaded. Resurgences, Resistances, and Rearrangements of Mainstream Television and Media
Time & Location
14th - 15th October 2021
Bologna, Piazzetta P. P. Pasolini, 5/b, 40122 Bologna BO, Italia
About the event
Media Mutations, the international conference on audiovisual media hosted by the Department of the Arts of Università di Bologna, is inaugurating its twelfth edition. The topic will be the strong, somehow unexpected persistence of broadcasting and mainstream TV and media within the digital environment.
In the past few years, not only have streaming services (such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video) become the driving force of a shift in the television and media business, they have also been at the center of seminal research and debates in television and media studies, mainly pointing at the notions of digital revolution and disruption. More recently, the launch of new platforms by other providers (like Apple, Disney, and HBO) has rekindled these debates, which have channeled the OTT promotional rhetoric pointing at the ultimate death of broadcasting, both as a business model and as a cultural form.
However, in these very years, there is wide proof that classic television and traditional broadcasting is bigger than ever. It has returned to the center of the digital scenario, because of its ability to bring together large and diversified audiences, considered valuable both at a cultural and at an economic level. It is still resisting the competition of on-demand services, balancing its time and space limitations with different experiences, like the creation of events and the focus on TV genres that are not scripted series – e.g. reality programs, factual entertainment, talk shows. More importantly, it has contributed to a wider re-arrangement of the media system, with the digital players trying to imitate the strengths of broadcasting, while traditional media are adapting to the new challenges. As far as business is concerned, production, distribution, and circulation are growing, in the US as well as in Europe and in several other markets around the world, while ad-based models are proving to be effective in both the broadcasting and digital business model. Content-wise, network series and shows are still the pillars of schedules for free-to-air television, as they are becoming more and more relevant in terms of ratings, production values, socio-political mandates, franchise expansion. The OTT libraries are filled with network content, thanks to huge deals for retransmission and exclusive runs, while deals between broadcasting operators (PSBs, commercial networks, pay television) and digital platforms are increasingly commonplace. This shows a market that seems based on co-dependency between broadcasting and online platforms rather than straightforward competition, and on the hybridization of mainstream and niche rather than on a neat shift from broadcasting to narrowcasting.
Drawing on these considerations, the conference aims to bring the attention back to broadcasting, in order to assess its current state, to explore the recent evolutions of the free-to-air television business in the light of its manifold relations with OTT players, to check the parallel resurgence, resistance and rearrangement of other broadcasting-based media (such as radio), as well as to understand the attempts and experimentations to bring the mainstream back in customized, niche-oriented digital services. In line with its founding purposes, the conference wishes to serve as a basis for discussing methodologies, sharing research results, and promoting a multi-disciplinary approach from a global perspective.