Representing Cultural Diversity or Serving Local Industry? An Exploration of the Future Prospects of Subsidised Documentary on Television

Dr. Mary Debrett
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Positing documentary as a unique form for representing cultural diversity, developing cultural citizenship and contributing cultural rights, this paper reflects on how market pressures impact on television documentary production in the global era. A study of industry attitudes and outcomes in Australia and New Zealand suggested audience ratings and the quest for international marketability was having an homogenising influence on local television documentary. Cultural subsidy, which was once directed to nurturing national culture and identity, now tends to be directed towards protecting national culture as a product, thereby protecting local industry. This paper argues that local industry and the cause of cultural diversity are not in inevitable opposition and can both be served by cultural policy adopting an educative, developmental approach towards building audiences, rather than pragmatic, market-based audience strategies.

Keywords: Cultural diversity, Television documentary, Cultural policy, National culture, Neo liberalism
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Representing Cultural Diversity or Serving Local Industry?

Dr. Mary Debrett

Lecturer in Media Industries, Media Studies Program, School of Communication, Arts and Critical Enquiry, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences , La Trobe University

Mary teaches in the Media Studies program at La Trobe University and is the coordinator for the video production stream in the Bachelor of Media Studies. She has a background in television production having worked as a film editor, researcher and documentary maker within broadcasting and the independent sector. Mary's research interests are broadcasting policy, public service broadcasting in the digital era and documentary as a social project. She is currently involved in a comparative study of television documentary funding in Australia and New Zealand for her Ph. D.

Ref: D05P0212