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Chapter One_PhD_Terry Flew

Chapter One_PhD_Terry Flew

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Published by Terry Flew

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Published by: Terry Flew on Jul 22, 2009
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05/11/2014

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Chapter OneCultural Institutions, Cultural Policy and theHistorical Foundations of Australian BroadcastMedia Policy
This chapter begins by discussing the ‘cultural policy debate’ in Australiancultural studies. This debate raised a series of issues that are critical to media andcultural studies as well as to policy studies, including the relationship of academiccriticism to political agency, the significance of Marxist and social-democraticapproaches to state power, and the need for a comparative and historical perspective on policy that recognises the prevalence of policy failure. Examiningmedia from a policy-oriented perspective also allows greater consideration of therole of institutions in the development of cultural forms and practices. It is proposed in this chapter that an institutional approach to cultural analysis canovercome some of the problems in media studies and media policy studies thathave arisen out of elitist, structuralist Marxist and cultural studies methodologies.In the latter part of the chapter, an institutional framework is deployed todevelop an understanding of the structure of broadcasting and broadcast media policy, and the bases for political agency arising from the relationship between
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‘public interest’ discourses and the structure of broadcast property. It is proposedthat a ‘policy settlement’ emerged in Australian broadcasting in the 1950s and1960s, where a formal commitment to cultural citizenship and community participation was in practice negated by regulatory capture, indifference towardscultural policy goals, and political dominance of broadcasting policy. At the sametime, however, this period saw the emergence of a linkage between culturalnationalism and participation discourses that is at the cornerstone of thecampaigns for media policy reform that gained momentum in the 1970s.Three elements are identified as central to the Australian broadcast policysettlement: strong political and broadcaster influence over the conduct of regulatory agencies; the expectation that the high profits of broadcast networkslegitimate demands for ‘pro-social’ content regulations, such as those aroundAustralian drama production and children’s programming; and demands that localcontent regulations are important to ensuring that Australian commercialtelevision fulfils national cultural development objectives. The relationship between public participation and the rights of media consumers as citizens, incontrast to broadcaster expectations of a ‘hands-off’ relationship withgovernments and regulatory agencies, was an area of contested political terrainthroughout the period from the 1970s to the 1990s.
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The Cultural Policy Debate in Australian Cultural Studies
One of the most significant debates in Australian cultural studies in the 1990s wasthe
cultural policy debate
. Tony Bennett, one of the leading protagonists in thedebate, argued that culture and cultural practices should be seen as ‘intrinsicallygovernmental’, and defined in terms of ‘the specificity of the governmental tasksand programmes in which those practices come to be inscribed’ (Bennett 1992d:397). Bennett proposes that culture is best thought of as ‘a historically specific setof institutionally embedded relations of government in which the forms of thoughtand conduct of extended populations are targeted for transformation - in part viathe extension through the social body of the forms, techniques, and
regimens
of aesthetic and intellectual culture(Bennett 1992c: 26). For Bennett, thisgenealogical approach to the development of culture links contemporary advocacyof cultural policy studies to historical analysis of the formation of culture inmodernity, by seeing its ‘governmentalisation’ as part of a broader trend towardsthe use of specific forms of knowledge as a technology for the management of  populations.The implications of such a revised analytical framework for the study of cultural institutions were threefold. First, it would shift the emphasis of historiesof culture away from the ways in which intellectuals and critics interpreted
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