Call for Papers: Special issue of Journal of British Cinema and Television on transmission and transmitters

Proposals are invited for a special issue of the Journal of British Cinema and Television on the subject of television and cinema transmission.

Transmission is one of the key technologies underpinning television and cinema. It is the liminal, ethereal, and often invisible stage between production and consumption. Transmitters send television signals to the homes of viewers; satellites beam images from space to rooftop dishes; fast internet connections enable live streaming and the rapid distribution of Digital Cinema Packages.

A few television transmitters have become iconic – such as the masts at Alexandra Palace and Crystal Palace, and the tower at Emley Moor. Their images have come to stand for the institutions and structures of television. The reach of a transmitter defines the boundaries of regional and national television. Just as often, transmission infrastructure is hidden from view. Few can see the television mast which transmits their signals; none can see the satellite to which their dish is pointed. For most viewers, transmission becomes noticeable only when it fails.

In the case of television, modes of transmission and reception which have defined the viewing experience since the inception of television in the late 1920s could soon disappear from the media landscape. The recent announcement by British broadcasters of a new service to enable viewers to watch live television online points to the eventual decommissioning and dismantling of television masts and transmitters.

In light of this historical turning point, and considering the under-appreciated cultural impact of transmission technologies, we invite papers responding in any way to the technologies, cultures, and imagery of transmission in British television and cinema. Topics could include:

  • Analogue or digital, terrestrial or satellite, television transmission;
  • The role of transmitters in the creation of regional and national identity;
  • The role of transmission in the iconography and imagery of television and cinema branding;
  • Relationships between transmission infrastructure and rural and urban environments;
  • Future changes to transmission infrastructure, decommissioning and lost heritage.

 The deadline for proposals is 30 April 2024. Decisions will be made by the end of May with first drafts due in December 2024.

Editors: Dr Nick Hall (Royal Holloway University of London), Prof Jamie Medhurst (Aberystwyth University) and Prof John Wyver (University of Westminster).

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