Outside the Box
2010 was a year in which UK broadcasters produced some remarkable international programmes. There were superb documentaries like The Lost Girls of South Africa (Channel 4), Mugabe and the White African (More4) and Women, Weddings, War and Me (BBC3). There were memorable current affairs programmes, for example This World – Hostage in the Jungle (BBC2), Dispatches – Africa’s Last Taboo (Channel 4) and Panorama – Chocolate, the Bitter Truth (BBC1). There was innovation with Welcome to Lagos (BBC2).
And there were brilliant dramas like I am Slave (Channel 4) and Blood and Oil (BBC2). All these programmes were striking reminders of the extraordinary power of television to engage audiences with important international issues and to shed light on how people live their lives in other countries.
And yet the future of international content on UK television is far from certain.
In chapter 1 we present the latest findings from a unique study which we have been undertaking since 1989. It examines in detail how much international coverage there is on which channels, covering what topics, through which genres, in what countries and how this has changed over time. This latest research looks at 2010. Some of the findings are cause for celebration and others raise serious concerns for the future.
In chapter 2 we look at how international content can achieve greater impact with audiences, given the rapidly changing media environment, specifically in relation to marketing, time-shift television and social and online media. Whilst these changes bring significant opportunities, they also present huge challenges for international programming.
The aim of this research is to encourage broadcasters, producers and those who collaborate with them to think more strategically about ways in which international content can reach and engage a range of audiences, now and in the future.
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