Television’s Power Relations in
the Transition to Digital
The Case of the United Kingdom

by Brett Christophers (The University of Auckland, New Zealand)

This article examines the contemporary configuration of power relations in the U.K.
television sector, probing, in the process, the enduring accuracy of longstanding economic
arguments concerning distributor dominance in the “cultural industries” more broadly.
Such arguments are important because we cannot understand the power of the media
unless we understand the circulation of power within the media. The article shows that while
recent developments in respect to both producer–distributor and producer–advertiser
relationships have begun to enhance the leverage enjoyed by the production community,
the steady inflation of the mass-market premium enjoyed by the leading distributors
(the terrestrial broadcasters) in the advertising market has largely sustained their power,
in relation to smaller (multichannel) distributors, to producer suppliers, and—of course—
to the consuming public. (download)