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