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February 1995, Week 1


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 7 Feb 1995 16:57:16 CST
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----------------------------Original message----------------------------
I'm going to take Jeremy's cue and try and tone things down a bit.  At the
risk of keeping this a single-issue discussion area - or, worse yet, a lone
panelist's panel discussion - I'd like to query Mr. Jarvik.  He represents a
perspective very different from most represented here and I want to try and
understand it.
On 5 Feb., you wrote:
>Replying to Dr. Hargrove's points in the simplest way: We don't have a
>of England or a Monarch, we don't have and Official Secrets Act, and we
>have a BBC. They don't have a First Amendment or a written Constitution
>bans titles of nobility, among other things. ... It's
>comparing apples and oranges.1776 and all that...
I wonder if you saw the first edition of the current series "Inside the FBI"
and, if so, would care to comment on the program.   The series is a
co-production of WETA and Britain's Channel Four and, I think,  touchs on an
interesting phenomenon regarding American and British broadcasters.
I have noticed a curious sybiotic relationship between British broadcasters
and their American counterparts.  British journalists and filmmakers find in
the Freedom of Information Act a resource for exploring recent history not
available to them at home.  I've been told by several British filmmakers that
in the U.S. they legally have access to kinds of information they would never
get from their own government and, through exploring the recent history of
U.S. institutions, hope to point their viewers toward parallels that exist
within the United Kingdom.
I suspect public broadcasters take a fair amount of flak for the quantities
of British programming they carry.  Yet the British documentary tradition is
one which has, to some extent, grown more and more vital in their national
discourse while, here at home, the television documentary has - with some
notable exceptions - whithered under commercial pressures.  It could even be
said that the infusion of British vitality - through co-productions,
acquisition, etc. -  has helped sustain whatever tradition survives in the
United States, but it should also be noted that American themes and audiences
sustain the British tradition as well.
In this sense, I would suggest that the two systems are not entirely "apples
and oranges" but, rather, part of a larger organism.   I realize your focus
is mainly on systemic questions.  Yet, throughout this debate I find myself
having to pull back from pure economic theories of government involvement in
broadcasting and look at the reality of the situation as it exists now.
 Would you care to comment on what you perceive to be the value of the
information this organism produces?
Stephen McCarthy
Boston, MA