. . . OR TELEVISION AS CULTURE AND AS POLITICS?
TV has never won acceptance in intellectual or public culture as culture, and nor has it been accepted as politics. This is not to say that its impact on culture and its political force have not endlessly been discussed; on the contrary, I’m suggesting that the interminable stream of fearful, critical and promotional commentary on television’s effect on culture and politics is evidence of how these spheres are still understood to be ‘elsewhere’, as it were, with television ever the interloper or arriviste, spoiling culture, corrupting politics, sensationalizing the public sphere and commercializing the cultural sphere. A turn to questions of technlogy, industry, regulation and survey in this context is, perhaps, a return to the very rhetoric that has for decades hindered a complete understanding of television. Because of its large-scale capital investment, its massive social reach, its popular address to an essentially unknowable audience, and its ever-imminent renewal or replacement by newer technologies, television is all too easily confined to questions of population management (precisely, of ‘governmentality’). It can readily be reduced to questions of commodity management too, where the provision of technology, commercial products and ‘content’ is thought of essentially as an attempt to bring supply into optimum alignment with demand (with government regulation to monitor the marketplace).