Climate Action, Local Communities and Local Television

ELKE WEISSMANN, Tyrrell Belinda

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There is no doubt that television is increasingly operating at a transnational level with particularly ‘peak TV’ drama often being coproduced and exploited internationally. Nevertheless, there is evidence that television is also becoming more and more focused on the local. This includes the dramas produced for international distribution, which are often grounded in very specific, micro-local spaces, but it also includes the institutions of television, as television continues to operate nationally, regionally and locally. In many ways, then, television plays out on a representational and institutional level that globalisation includes a localising element (Robertson, 1995). While local television has existed in different forms in different countries, including as community television in Germany, Canada and the USA (see Higgins, 1999; King and Mele, 1999), in the UK it was only formally established in the 2010s under commercial licences. Since then, local television has conglomerated into two central franchises, That’s TV And Now TV. As a result, the local content of local television has been reduced to a few hours a day while the rest of the time is filled with reruns of US shows. This, unfortunately, means that an opportunity is missed in terms of engaging with local communities which are becoming increasingly important in offering alternative ways of political engagement in a post-national world (Sassen, 2003). As Sassen (2006) emphasises, it is these local communities that ground the political experience in local action, but connect them with community groups elsewhere. Thus, in a world where political engagement with the nation is on the wane, local community groups offer direct action. This is true particularly for climate action, which is often organised at local level and responds to specific local needs.
In this paper, we report back on a project which followed a local community group, Love Wavertree CIC, which aimed to find specific local responses to climate change through climate assemblies. These were filmed and the resulting two programmes, a documentary series and a life-style series, disseminated through different means locally. In this paper, we examine what role local television could play if it was re-imagined as a community-led public service. Set up to educate, inform and entertain about local events, and organised to give voice to local communities, could television help engage the public beyond those immediately involved?
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2022
EventCritical Studies in Television Conference 2022: The Outliers of Television - online
Duration: 27 Jun 202215 Jul 2022
Conference number: 3


ConferenceCritical Studies in Television Conference 2022
Abbreviated titleCST Conference
Internet address


  • climate change
  • community
  • local authorities
  • television

Research Institutes

  • Institute for Social Responsibility

Research Groups

  • SustainNET


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