|Title||The production and mediatisation of political talk television in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom|
This thesis is a cross-national study that investigates political talk television. The first and main part looks at political talk show production. By talking to senior political talk producers working in different countries, newsrooms and political talk shows, this study constructs a general framework – involving structural, agency, and ideational factors – which explains how political talk shows are produced, and more importantly, why they appear the way they do. The thesis argues that the traditional divide between structures and agency needs to be abolished to truly understand news production. A typology of talk is constructed – parliamentary talk, participatory talk and advocacy talk – which demonstrates that although the general production framework applies to all shows, different forms of talk are more or less responsive to different production elements.
The second part interrogates the content of political talk shows by looking at marketisation and mediatisation. To what extent can marketisation and mediatisation explain political talk content? A cross-national methodology is employed that categorises the three countries according to their marketisation levels. The relationship between marketisation and mediatisation is then examined in a qualitative content analysis of political talk shows. Evidence suggests that American talk is more mediatised than British or Australian talk – it is more interpretive, more likely to view politics as a game, more likely to personalise politics, and more likely to rely on aesthetic aspects – and some weaker evidence shows British talk as slightly less mediatised than Australian talk, in-line with marketisation expectations. However, no relationship has been identified between more or less commercial news institutions and mediatisation of political talk content other than to conclude that advocacy talk is the most mediatised style of talk overall.
These results highlight that the antecedent of mediatisation is most evident at the macro level of analysis. However, they also point to a problem with the mediatisation theory at lower levels of analysis: political talk is at least partly a mediatised format, but the drivers of this mediatisation do not relate simplistically to more or less marketisation because institutional marketisation does not relate to mediatisation of content, and therefore, the mediatisation of political talk shows might very well relate to wider cultural and political factors.