Local Television and Community Responses to Climate Change

ELKE WEISSMANN, Tyrrell Belinda

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

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Climate change is finally gaining greater visibility in television representations of the natural world, but most of these representations are didactic in nature, pointing to a continued paternalistic approach of engaging audiences in climate action. Considering continued criticisms of public service television as being paternalistic (e.g. Ytreberg, 2002) and the real threats to public service television under the current British government, it is vital that alternative models of engaging the public in political action are found. In this paper, we report the outcomes of a British Academy funded project that examines if local television, if it was redefined as a public rather than a commercial service, could support local responses to climate change by observing and disseminating the processes of community decision making via local climate assemblies. We will show clips of our programmes – a documentary series about the assemblies and a life-style television programme – and discuss the findings from our audience research into a local community in Wavertree, Liverpool. We will show that television’s role in communicating responses to climate change could be reorganised to a greater engagement of local communities and audiences if – and only if – political decision-making processes themselves were changed towards a greater inclusion of local activism.


  • television
  • climate change
  • local communities
  • local television
  • community-led television

Research Institutes

  • Institute for Social Responsibility

Research Groups

  • Television Studies Research Group
  • SustainNET


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