Keeping Faith: What Small Nation Television Can Tell us about the New Media Disruptors

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While the initial industry language of complete disruption and cord-cutting that was at first adapted by the academy has by now been somewhat tempered, there remains an overall sense that the platforms and online portals have fundamentally changed the dynamics of the television industries, with transnational (often American-based) corporations taking over and pushing legacy broadcaster, particularly European public service ones, to the margins. As always, of course, the reality is somewhat more complex.
In this paper, I examine the case of Welsh television drama, originally commissioned for the Welsh-language broadcaster S4C in order to understand how the shifts and expansion in delivery technologies has created opportunities and challenges for a small nation broadcasting industry. Largely, this is to counterpoint the current focus on larger nations in the publications on online television providers such as Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu (e.g. Lotz, 2018; McDonald and Smith-Rowsey, 2016; Jenner, 2018). While some publications have dealt with the problems that Netflix causes smaller nations (e.g. Schanke Sundet, 2017), Wales represents a unique opportunity to examine the pitfalls and opportunities because it is both a small nation with a unique language (Welsh) and part of a larger nation which has proved to be the second most important exporter of television drama in the West (the United Kingdom). This paper adopts an industry-focused approach, based on interviews conducted with key informants in Wales, in order to examine how small nation television institutions that are also (marginal) parts of a larger nation attempt to exploit and negotiate the context of multiplatform delivery to offer content of relevance to viewers in Wales and thus remaining wedded to ideas of serving the public of their nation. At the same time, the paper will show, the multiplatform age is perceived as one which has an inherent transnational aspect to it, meaning that although focused on viewers in Wales, drama produced for this audience also always aims to reach beyond the confines of the small nation, into the bigger nation of the United Kingdom, and ideally into the world.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022
EventSCSM Annual Conference - Chicago, Chicago, United States
Duration: 30 Mar 20223 Apr 2022
Conference number: 2022


ConferenceSCSM Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleSCMS
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


  • small nations
  • television
  • television drama


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