Formatting and Change in East Asian Television Industries: Media Globalization and Regional Dynamics

Lim, Wei Ling Tania Patricia (2005) Formatting and Change in East Asian Television Industries: Media Globalization and Regional Dynamics. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Television is increasingly both global and local. Those television industries discussed in this thesis transact in an extensive neo-network of flows in talents, financing, and the latest forms of popular culture. These cities attempt to become media capitals but their status waxes and wanes, depending on their success in exporting their Asian media productions. What do marital arts dramas, interactive game-shows, children's animation and teenage idol soap operas from East Asian television industries have in common? Through the systematic use of TV formatting strategies, these television genres have become the focus for indigenous cultural entrepreneurs located in the East Asian cities of Hong Kong, Singapore and Taipei to turn their local TV programmes into tradable culture.

This thesis is a re-consideration of the impact of media globalisation on Asian television that re-imagines a new global media order. It suggests that there is a growing shift in perception and trade among once-peripheral television industries that they may be slowly de-centring Hollywood's dominance by inserting East Asian popular entertainment into familiar formats or cultural spaces through embracing global yet local cultures of production.

While TV formats like Survivor, Millionaire, Big Brother and American Idol have become profitable and powerful franchises globally, in East Asia, the size of TV format trade is actually eclipsed by the regional trade in East Asian popular cultural commodities from martial arts novels and films, manga and romantic fiction, to popular music. These commodities have become the source of remaking local television culture into tradable cultures as local TV programmes use formatting practices to circulate within their region. The many faces of formatting in television are explored through four case studies - from Hong Kong (TVB's Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre), Singapore (Robert Chua Productions' Everyone Wins, Peach Blossom Media's Tomato Twins) and Taipei (Comic Ritz Production's Meteor Garden). Conceptualised as Asian media productions, these TV programmes are sites for examining individual agency, the network flows of popular culture and structural changes of their respective broadcasting fields.

This thesis argues that TV formatting practices can become a currency for neo-networked media producers to create a medium of cultural exchange that sets up the possibility for a common market for cultural trade in East Asia. However, the ease with which TV formatting practices and re-sale of TV programmes are copied lower barriers for competition and often this tends toward over production. Over-exposure kills many new genres of production and discourages investment in the research and development component of creating TV formats for trade. Change in East Asian television industries is also aided by media conglomeration, global access through satellite TV, the Internet and increasingly digital entertainment, media de-regulation and pro-development policies.

A number of factors and conditions that accompany the rise of TV formatting in East Asia (such as the role of independents vis-a-vis big local players, the emergence of copyright issues and marketing celebrities) contribute to the innovations that result from adapting formatting practices to local contexts, and suggest how each city's television industry attempts to address the rise of tradable cultural commodities that are increasingly made for pan-Asian consumption.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 16496
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Flew, Terry & Keane, Michael
Keywords: circuit of cultural production, East Asian popular culture, television industries, field of broadcasting, formatting, local knowledge, media capitals, neo-networks, regional dynamics, tv formats, martial arts dramas, teenage idol soap operas, game-shows
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Department: Faculty of Creative Industries
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Wei Ling Tania Patricia Lim
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 04:04
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:48

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