“It is their job to make sure that the long-term vision for the show … stays intact”: Using insights from the television format industry to rethink the concept of media events

2019-11-06T11:33:13Z (GMT) by Michael Skey
The concept of media events continues to generate widespread debate among scholars around the globe. Studies that have challenged the concept’s functionalist foundations have undoubtedly sharpened our thinking. Conversely, approaches that have sought to expand the concept tend to confuse rather than clarify. In this paper, we argue that events that are planned, anticipated, and involve external organizations in their design demand a specific set of analytical tools. Furthermore, we draw a further distinction between one-off events and those that are cyclical in nature, with the latter being theorized using insights from studies of the television format industry. This approach not only focuses much needed attention on the production side of media events but also on the struggles between different interest groups (rights-holders, event hosts, media producers). We illustrate our arguments by drawing upon ethnographic material from the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest.