Question and Answer Session Summary


·            Is television history public history?

A working definition might be (based on Ludmilla Jordanova's work): public history is a representation of the past made for or by people who aren’t university based historians


·            But, there is an interesting difference in the role of public history in the USA:


-  Public historians can have, for example, an expert witness role in court cases

-  Much of the programming is done by the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)

-  Most US public historians are in the museum sector

-  Programming is politically driven, and funded by a range of sponsors including Yale University,

-  There are regular conferences for historians

-  The American Historical Association promotes links between universities and media practitioners

-  The PBS is now co-producing with Channel 4


·            The Televising History Project has so far concentrated on European connections because of its shared past.  However, it would be useful for the project to have US connection as there is also shared history.


·            Hybridity - fact-based docu-dramas - questions are being asked about the fault line between the documentary and the drama elements, and where programmes fall between the two. 


-   Ann was concerned that if the project was opened up to include docu-dramas, it may lose its focus and approach.

-  There are elements of reconstruction within factual genres.

-  The decision to make BBC's History of Rome series a drama rather than a factual programme was made very late in the day – important to capture that process.


·            Web documentary follow-ups to programmes are becoming more and more of a feature:


- Multi-platforms of programming likely to increase, such as mobile phones, broadband, pod casts etc

-   BBC commissioning editors now have a multi-platform editor working with them

-   History programmes particularly lend themselves to web documentary follow-ups

-   There was concern about overstepping the extent of dispersal of the central artefact

-  There was concern that good quality historical programme makers may not always have a market in the future


·            Audiences

-   Young people are less likely to use television to receive information

-   Who will programme makers be making programmes for in the future?

-  Research suggests that historical documentaries are watched mainly by white males aged 50+

-  There is an increased use of big television screens in the home, home theatre   systems etc, to encourage pleasurable visual narrative

-   The race is on to distribute historical documentaries via the mobile phone

- The Televising History Project will span an interesting period of change in programming


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