Arts programming on Irish public service television: Ideas, conflicts, and contradictions
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This study explores the historical relationship between public service television and the arts in Ireland and considers how this relationship has influenced the current range and quality of arts programmes on Irish public service television. Pierre Bourdieu's work on cultural consumption and Jurgen Habermas' concept of the public sphere are both employed here to examine issues such as inequalities of access and participation in the arts. The study reveals how the Irish State's nationalist cultural agenda informed and structured the development of both the arts and broadcasting. Whilst Irish public service television gradually acknowledged the cultural needs of diverse publics and moved away from a paternalistic broadcasting model, the Arts Council continued to serve the cultural interests of elite sectors of lrish society. Public service television now competes in a multi-channel environment facilitated by de-regulation and technological developments. This study charts major shifts in cultural policy, highlighting the move towards an instrumental cultural policy from the 1990s onward. Significantly, it demonstrates that the Arts Council and Irish public service broadcasters never developed written policy or research that directly addresses the area of the arts on television. The study also shows how public service television and the Arts Council continue to operate largely independently of one another and how this has resulted in piecemeal solutions to common problems. At present, it seems that policy statements issued by the Arts Council and Irish public service broadcasters often exist more as rhetoric than as guidelines for practice. In conclusion, it is suggested that the objectives of both public bodies could be achieved more effectively through a greater emphasis on collaboration and communication in relation to policy development and implementation.
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