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Editor: Peter Goddard

This collection brings together work on forms of popular television produced within the authoritarian regimes of Europe after World War II. Ten chapters based on new and original research examine approaches to programming and individual programmes in Spain, Greece, Czechoslovakia, Romania, the Soviet Union and the GDR at a time when they were governed as dictatorships or one-party states. Rather than foregrounding the political economy of television or its role as an overt tool of state propaganda, the focus is on popular television-everyday programming that ordinary people watched. An editorial introduction examines the question of what can be considered ‘popular’ when audience appeal is often secondary to the need for state control. With familiar measures of popularity often absent, contributors adopt various approaches in applying the term to the programming they examine and in considering the reasons for its popularity. Drawing on surviving archives, scripts and production records, contemporary publications, YouTube clips, and interviews with producers and performers, its chapters recover examples of television programming history unknown beyond national borders and often preserved largely in the memories of the audiences who lived with them. Popular Television in Authoritarian Europe represents a significant intervention in transnational television studies, making these histories available to scholars for the first time, encouraging comparative enquiry and extending the reach – intellectually and geographically – of European television history.

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How the East German political system presented itself in television series

9 Undercover: How the East German political system presented itself in television series Sascha Trültzsch and Reinhold Viehoff Entertainment: The significance of fictional programmes in GDR television The former East Germany – the German Democratic Republic, or GDR – was an authoritarian state governed by the Socialist Unity Party (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands; SED). The party and a network of affiliated institutions controlled all media and other forms of public communication. The avowed aim was to propagate the SED’s ideology and guidelines

in Popular television in authoritarian Europe
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Der Schwarze Kanal

prime-time spot would attract most viewers, including those in West Germany who could also receive GDR programmes. Another reason for this choice of time could have been that the most important, and therefore most dangerous, West German political programmes were also broadcast on a Monday evening (Ludes, 1990: 279), which meant that von Schnitzler could kill two birds with one stone. Nonetheless, it could be argued that he did not attract as many viewers as his Western colleagues, for a number of reasons which will be discussed below. Gerlof calls the programme

in Popular television in authoritarian Europe
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The Secret Memoirs

the German political scene; Hitler becoming Chancellor; passing of the Nuremberg laws; invasion of Poland and start of the Second World War. And so on and so on up to the surrender of Germany in May 1945. Then I drew up a second timeline. This essentially was the chart of Eichmann’s life. This timeline was even more important than the European timeline, and I charted Eichmann’s biography in considerable detail. Eichmann was born in Linz in 1906. Put that in. Hitler grew up in the same town? Important? Maybe, so put that in as well. He came from a Lutheran family

in The documentary diaries

Oberammergau, or titling a group of Jews in transit as ‘excursionists’ and filming younger family members as they parodied Nazi salutes and marches 102 are reminders too of how such holiday imagery and encounters perhaps helped to anaesthetise some audiences against fuller implications of political developments in Germany. Political indifference depended on individual interests that may be no longer verifiable. For the Preston

in Amateur film