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Research Article Open Access

Television Goes Online: Myths and Realities in the Contemporary Context

Abstract

New technologies impact industry and audiences, (re)opening a wide range of debates about costs, control, desire, culture, and strategic directions. Some polemicists have gone so far as to proclaim that new viewing platforms signal the death of TV, as public discourse is underlined by the assumption that television’s digital migration allows everyone to get what they want, when they want it, rendering traditional television irrelevant or redundant. Rather, it is important to critically assess such popular and tempting claims in order to provide a thoughtful and fair analysis of what might amount to popularly exchanged “myths.” Underlying this analysis is the nagging insistence that television is, after all, an industry, located in historically and geographically specific capitalist and commercial contexts that structure both content and access. The article will highlight some of these issues in the Canadian context, which is often under-represented in global literature, despite the success of this industry (domestically and globally); as well as its economically strong and culturally uneasy relationship with the American television industry. Canada is instructive, then, not only as a national context, but also as a tool for thinking transnationally about online television, a move that may bring to crisis several popular myths and rearticulate the importance of considering television convergence, conglomeration and consolidation in the online television discussion.

Christine Quail

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