Moving the goalposts: the transformation of television sport in the UK (1992-2014)

Milne, M. 2014. Moving the goalposts: the transformation of television sport in the UK (1992-2014). PhD thesis University of Westminster Faculty of Media, Arts and Design

TitleMoving the goalposts: the transformation of television sport in the UK (1992-2014)
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsMilne, M.

Despite its prominence and popularity, television sport remains an underresearched area in media studies and is a subject that lacks a ready-made

theoretical context. Consequently, a political economy approach - including

ideas about value, commodification, transformations, power-relationships and

the emergence of a profit-motivated sport-media-corporate axis – is used to

answer 3 primary questions:

1) Whilst sports and broadcasting systems in the US and UK started from

diametrically opposed positions post-World War II, why have the

similarities between them, including a more overtly consumer-oriented

approach in the UK, become the most noticeable features?

2) How do three often unseen upstream pre-production processes –

technology, broadcasting rights and regulation - increasingly influence

what television sport looks and sounds like, where it can be seen and

who can see it?

3) How are upstream pre-production processes manifest downstream on

the supply side in terms of (a) broadcasters (including who provides

sports media) and (b) independent sports television production,

including the day-to-day work of sports producers and directors?

Two critical perspectives are added: 1) the central role of sports federations,

ranging from the “peculiar economics of sport” (Neale, 1964) through to

federation run host broadcast operations for major events; and, 2) a relevant

micro-level analysis of downstream supply-side activities following the trickle

down effect of significant upstream transformations. This new perspective

complements the big picture often favoured by political economists. It is argued that important transformations in technology, broadcasting rights and

regulation have radically changed the television sport landscape in the UK since 1992. How these factors have evolved goes a long way to explain (a) what sport

we see on television, (b) where we can see it and (c) what the final output looks and sounds like. The battle to control broadcasting rights and subsequent

television output is set against the increasing commercialisation of sport and the marketisation of broadcasting.

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