Friday, 2 April 2010

Wednesday, 20 January 2010


FOREBROADCAST INTERVIEWS (starting withStewart Lee) are at the Devereux & Onians YouTube Channel

Join Facebook group

Connect to us at Twitter

All around the world, we are at a pivotal stage in broadcasting history. Potentially, we are on the cusp of a Renaissance of broadcasting and a period characterised by the efflorescence of dynamism and creativity and the accelerating cross-fertilisation of ideas. The world is, effectively, our broadcasting oyster.

Image above: RCA CT-100 colour television, 1954

One of the central areas of future development lies in the relationship between traditional, centralised and consolidated mainstream broadcasting organisations on the one hand and the decentralised, fragmented, vibrant and often underground broadcasting that has proliferated through the internet on the other. A healthy dialogue and flow between the two will help ensure the creation of content that is progressive and that responds to deeper social and cultural transitions and is also backed by significant enough resources to be of first-class quality.

Marshall McLuhan wrote that when people come to a new road, there is a tendency to look back in the rear-view mirror. This is in some ways necessary, although it must be balanced effectively with an awareness of the topography of the new road ahead in order for the perspective to be a healthy, productive and active one. The dangers of merely looking backwards are nostalgia and anachronism. The dangers of merely looking forward are superficiality and lack of substance and lack of awareness of the depths of experience provided by our broadcasting heritage. In the middle of these two there lies an equilibrium point and aversion of the golden mean.

Image above: "New China Series: Television" by Ma Jun, 2005

The Forebroadcast Project is, therefore, launched on the basis of this dual approach. In particular, our focus is upon looking back at the broadcasting of the previous decade and looking ahead at how it will change and develop in the next decade. Just as the ancient Roman god Janus was often depicted facing in two opposite directions simultaneously (hence the month of January), so the Forebroadcast project will be composed of a series of interviews with people in broadcasting, the media and the arts, to say goodbye to the past era and usher and welcome in the new one. We hope to predict future trajectories and lay down pathways that will crystallise in the coming years. As well as this dual approach, we aim as well to concoct a healthy balance of voices from those who are already well established in the fields of broadcasting, media and the arts and also those whose voices and careers are currently emerging and will flower and flourish over the course of the next decade and beyond.

Image above: the close-down TV test-card from Moldova 1. The image is from the Television Close Down and Start Up blog.

One of the major questions that has arisen as a result of the explosion of content that has accompanied the mass dissemination of the internet has been that of concentration spans. The way that the Forebroadcast project will be structured is that it will feature two different versions of interviews. The first version will be the longer one, featuring interviews of approximately one hour in length. These will then be condensed and edited down to alternative five minute versions that pick out the central elements of the interview. As the project progresses, these different versions will both be available online. There will also be space for discussion and for interaction. Those who engage with the project will, therefore, be free to choose at what level of depth they participate and at what level of activity.

Image above: "Buddha Game" by Nam June Paik, 1991

Forebroadcast is the first major project of the newly formed Devereux & Onians Productions, created in Cambridge, Great Britain, 2010. The emphasis in the project is not upon our own personal views but upon those of our interviewees. In terms of interviewing technique, one of our exemplars is an interview such as the 1982 Las Vegas interview with Orson Welles for the BBC "Arena" arts programme, which placed the emphasis firmly upon Orson Welles as the interviewee and his opinions rather than that of the interviewers. Another inspiration comes from the stellar interviewing style of Bazooka Joe at the Small World Podcast. Another exemplar is, of course, Michael Parkinson.

Image above: "Radio Broadcast" by Julia Eckel, 1933-4

Inspirations for Forebroadcast

There are many inspirations for the Forebroadcast project. Some of those outside the mainstream include Big Picture TV, Biosphere Television, Birdsong Radio, Britain Thinks, the Community Channel, The Co-operative TV, Current TV UK, Eco EnR TV, Ethical TV, Globalvision, Isuma TV, Medialens, the Pacifica Foundation,Peacemakers TV, (Max Keiser's) Pirate MyFilm, Positive TV,Renewable Energy TV, Resonance FM, TrueTube, UbuWeb,Upstate Renegade Productions, Warp Films,, The Small World Podcast, the Alternative Channel and 209 Radio Cambridge.

101 Forebroadcast Questions

Image on left: "TV aufTisch" by Gunther Uecker, 1963

Although our idea for each interview is that it should be allowed to flow and meander as much as it needs to, we put forward 101 basic questions below that form the nucleus of the interviews that we will conduct. We have chosen 101 on the purely arbitrary bases of the"101 Dalmations" by Dodie Smith, the TV show "Room 101", the film "101 Rejkjavik", and the fact that more books are published with the number 101 in the title than 100.

Please feel free to add your questions as comments to this blog and we will flow them into the interviews that we conduct.

1. How has broadcasting changed over the course of the past decade?

2. How will broadcasting change over the course of the forthcoming decade?

3. What has the effect of the internet been on broadcasting?

4. What is the current balance between mass audience media and underground niche media? How is that balance likely to change in forthcomingyears?

Image on right: Artwork from the Krah, 2009. From Bristol Street Art weblog.

5. If the internet has decentralised media creation, has it led, paradoxically, to greater centralisation in the mainstream media and in its decision-making and commissioning?

6. Have the arguments for non-commercial, state-funded or public broadcasting systems (eg the BBC in Britain or ABC in Australia) strengthened or weakened over the past decade? What is likely to happen to the validity of those arguments in the next decade?

7. For commercial broadcasting, what are the ramifications for changes in online advertising and traditional advertising?

8. Will celebrity culture and 'reality TV' diminish or increase over the course of the next decade?

9. Is the balance right between content and technology and between the human and the machine in terms of broadcasting?

10. Has globalisation led to diversity and heterogeneity or homogenisation and monoculture?

11. To what extent has the plurality of user-generated content affected the desire for mass communal televisual or radio experiences?

Image on left: Philco Predicta TV repair by Scott Helmke

12. To what extent has the plurality of user-generated content affected the notion of output being transmitted at specific times during the day?

13. What are the most successful models of funding and support for alternative and heterodox content creation?

14. Have the removal of barriers to entry to making content lowered or improved broadcasting standards?

15. Has broadcasting been 'dumbed down'? If so, why?

16. Has the general attention or concentration span increased or decreased over the past decade? What is the probable trajectory over the next decade?

17. How has censorship operated in the last decade? How will it function in the next one? Is there any justification for censorship and, if so, on what basis?

Image on right: Banksy graffiti, Berlin

18. What are the taboos in broadcasting today?

19. How free is expression within the mainstream media? How free should it be?

20. Is mainstream news balanced or biased?

21. Does the blogosphere provide accurate alternatives to mainstream media, or instead a preponderance of rumour and hearsay?

22. Is broadcasting today too risk averse? Is there enough space for experimentation and innovation?

23. Was there ever a Golden Age of broadcasting? Does the next decade have the potential to be one?

24. Is media ownership in too few hands?

25. Does the relationship between the media and regulators work well at the moment? What needs to change?

26. Is mainstream broadcasting dominated by the transmission of fear? Does it encourage wasteful consumerism?

Image on right: German TV design, 1958, from Sneakerqueen blog

27. How are ratings calculated? Are those calculations effective, and do they balance the numbers of those viewing a programme with the quality of viewing experience?

28. Is there enough separation between media and politics?

29. Is the balance right in broadcasting between education and entertainment?

30. If the medium is the message, what is the message of television, radio or the internet?

31. Do we live in the global village, global metropolis, or global campsite?

32. How does the music and record industry need to adapt over the course of the next decade? What is the future of music in broadcasting?

33. What are the major technological advancements, innovations or breakthroughs of the next decade likely to be? What needs or wants will they fulfill?

34. How have recent transitions in broadcasting and media affected the balance between recordings and live performances?

Image on left: "Reality TV" graffiti, Aberystwyth, Wales

35. Is there too much propaganda these days?

36. How high is the level of public trust in the mainstream media?

37. What can be done to increase public trust in the mainstream media?

38. How open is the field of broadcasting to the promotion and acceleration of talent?

39. What forms of discrimination exist in the field of broadcasting?

Image on right: From the "Pour la TV 3D moi je mettre des lunettes de bigleurs" Facebook group

40. To what extent has the internet rendered forms of communication such as the newspaper obsolete? To what extent has it, instead, augmented them?

41. Does the sun always shine on TV?

42. Is television the drug of the nation?

43. Did radio kill the video star?

44. Did reality kill thevideo star?

45. What changes will the era of 3D bring to broadcasting?

46. Is there enough live television today? Do devices such as time delays stifle the potential excitement of live television?

47. Has broadcasting progressed throughout its history?

48. Is the quality of broadcasting cyclical?

Image on left: "Piano Piece" by Nam June Paik, 1993

49. How well does mainstream media function as a space for public debate?

50. If we are all creators, do we need editors (let alone sub-editors, proof-readers or floor managers)?

51. Which historical period is the best parallel for the new decade that we are entering?

52. If you were responsible for running a mainstream media outlet tomorrow morning, what is the first thing that you would change?

53. What is the time lag between new cultural developments and their widespread media dissemination?

54. How important a development is HD?

55. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the digital? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the analogue? How can the best of both be combined?

56. Would a show such as Monty Python's Flying Circus be commissioned today? If not, why not? Why was it commissioned in the past?

Image on right: Terry Gilliam, Monty Python's Flying Circus, 1969

57. What has been the effect of 24 hour news on the quality and depth of news broadcasting?

58. How well is mainstream news coping at presenting multiple perspectives and points of view in a balanced, fair and reasonably objective fashion?

59. Should product placement be allowed?

60. Does creativity and innovation require protection from the free market or does it require the market to be more free?

61. Are we on the cusp of a Renaissance period? Are we in the midst of one?

62. How good are the models of copyleft and copyright?

63. How well do current laws and rules work in the field of intellectual property rights?

64. Are the originators of new cultural ideas, forms and manifestations properly rewarded for their labour?

Image on right: From an interview with Antony Hall by We Make Money Not Art

65. Is piracy a problem or an opportunity?

66. Does mechanical reproduction alter the work of art?

67. "The future always arrives too fast, and in the wrong order" (Alvin Tofler). Do you agree? Are we facing future shock today?

68. What should not be filmed or recorded?

69. How effective is the balance between freedom of expression, the public right to know, and privacy?

70. How attractive is the media as a career, in comparison to other fields, for those starting out?

71. Humpty Dumpty in "Alice in Wonderland" argues that words mean whatever he chooses them to mean. Does this sum up media today?

72. Is the internet the 21st century equivalent of the printing press? If so, what are the parallels between our era and the Reformation?

Image on left: From the "Society of the Spectacle"

73. Do subliminal messages exist?

74. What is the role of media in the development of human consciousness?

75. What is the role of media in the development of false consciousness?

76. Do images of violence, abuse or exploitation have an effect on the prevalence or proliferation of acts of violence, abuse or exploitation?

77. Does the media perpetuate or challenge existing material, social, political, economic and educational inequalities?

78. "Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose": does our obsession with novelty mask an unchanging reality?

79. Why do we want to watch dystopias, monsters and horrors?

Image on right: Shakespearean Roman tragedies at the Barbican, London, 2009, by Toneelgroep Amsterdam

80. Do men and women broadcast differently? Do men and women receive broadcasting differently?

81. Is entertainment an escape from the real?

82. Are we living in the desert of the real?

83. Are we living in the society of the spectacle?

84. What form of media is the best at presenting complex or detailed information?

85. What is the relationship between broadcasting and surveillance?

86. What is the relationship between TV and CCTV?

87. Why is fame so desired?

88. What is the potential relationship between theatre and other forms of media such as television over the next decade?

89. Does television watching or internet use stimulate or inhibit reading?

90. Are we now primarily a visual, oral, written or kinaesthetic culture?

Image on left: From "Wired" magazine: "This Day In Tech"

91. As the children's show "Why Don't You?" asked, should we turn off our TVs and do something less boring instead?

92. What is the effect of globalised mass media on local communities?

93. What is the effect of consumption of media on the chemical balance of the brain or body?

94. Have we metabolised cyberspace yet?

95. Do we allow ourselves to be hypnotised? If so, why?

96. What will be the features and characteristics of the stars or celebrities of the next decade?

97. How well do we use the tools of our media to further social or environmental causes and campaigns?

98. How does the observer effect operate in broadcasting? Is it really possible to document anything without changing it in the very process of documentation?

99. Does being photographed or filmed involve the theft of the soul?

100. In broadcasting, which one dominates - numbers or words?

101. Why do books with lists based on the number 101 out-sell books with lists based on the number 100?