Popular television in authoritarian Europe

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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