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The interaction of broadcasters, critics and audiences in shaping the cultural meaning and status of television programmes: The public discourse around the second series of Broadchurch

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The meaning and cultural standing of a television programme is not predetermined or set. Indeed, it changes over time from before the broadcast of the programme, to when it is shown, and after. Over this period, and beyond, different parties will struggle, negotiate and seek consensus over a programme’s status and reception. In this article I will develop a concept of media engagement in relation to such a process. To help delineate this concept I will focus on how broadcasters, critics and the public in the United Kingdom interacted over ITV’s second series of Broadchurch (2013–17). I will explore how the producers created a publicity image of the programme to position it in popular and critical debates. As I do this I will identify some of the main strategies being followed by media organizations and the related textual and discursive devices utilized in their publicity output to achieve these aims. I will then seek to identify and explore how critics and audiences responded to the broadcaster’s publicity image. However, as I argue, while, with the use of social media, the importance of the public might have increased in such debates, the broadcaster and critic still have a role in framing such discussions and, at least for the critic, in providing a final summation of the public mediated discussion once a programme has finished its run.
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Keywords: Broadchurch; PR; critics; promotion; public discourse; public sphere; television criticism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Roehampton

Publication date: October 1, 2017

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