9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN07 Sociology of Culture

2009-09-04 13:30:00 2009-09-04 15:00:00 Friday, 4 September 13:30 - 15:00 Mediated Cultures Building II, C4.08

Mediating Regional Identities; The Popularity and Legitimacy of Regional Television

The popularity and legitimacy of regional television in the Netherlands seems to be growing. Am increasing number of regional programmes, lauded for their authenticity and familiarity, have reached the national networks. In order to protect cultural heritage and to strengthen regional identities local and provincial governments support such programmes. A change in Dutch media legislation in 2006 has made the provinces primarily financially responsible for the 13 regional networks in the Netherlands. In this paper we will investigate whether the popularity of regional television has indeed increased and if so, what this implies with respect to matters of globalisation and mediated cultures.
In order to answer our questions we are inspired by globalisation theories. Authors such as Castells and Morley have argued that mediated globalisation threatens identities and subsequently gives rise to a need for a new self conforming and coherent identity. Regional networks and government cater to this need.
Regional programmes, however, not only have homogenizing characteristics, but can also exclude and thus induce fragmentation. By their authenticity and familiar settings regional programmes also quite clearly show which groups in society are excluded and unwanted (Morley, 2001). In this respect, the increased attention of policy makers for homogenizing regional television is remarkable. Attempts at identity construction by means of television programmes does not only demonstrate naïve ideas about the impact of media, it is also paradoxical in a society struggling with problems of ethnic minorities and integration.
To answer our research questions we use primary as well as secondary data. Data provided by networks are analysed in order to assess ratings, market shares, advertising income and financial performance. An analysis of programming data is used to chart changes in content and genres. Primary data consist of qualitative interviews with employees and ceo?s of regional networks, with provincial policy-makers and programme producers. The interviews are analysed by means of Atlas.ti.
Our results confirm an increase in the popularity and legitimacy of regional networks, but simultaneously show the problematic nature of a homogenous regional identity in a globalising and diversifying society.