Posts tagged ‘tv’

29 August 2010

BBC is all mixed-up

The BBC is inviting contributions for multicultural sitcom scripts. Trying to rid itself of its whiteness, and going one step further in its metaphor for multiculturalism than the one often heard in Germany “between two chairs”, it’s calling the competition “All Mixed-Up” (info available here from 31 August).

The Guardian reckons the title is “only slightly partonising”:

Age: 64
Appearance: Hideously white.
How exactly do you measure the age of a genre? Easy. Just lazily disregard radio as a medium and begin with the first ever television sitcom.
Which was? Pinwright’s Progress, the story of shopkeeper Mr J Pinwright and his useless employees. Broadcast live on the BBC in 1946, it was never recorded and has been lost forever. Since then, British sitcoms have been set in houses, offices, hospitals, prisons, buses and, on occasion, space.
So do we still need them now they’re 64? Of course. We just need them to be a bit less white and middle-class.
Says who? The BBC. It has launched a competition for multicultural sitcom scripts, under the only slightly patronising title All Mixed-Up. The idea is to do away with the perception that the BBC is “a closed door for writers who are not necessarily white middle-class”.
And why would people think that? Perhaps because the only notable British sitcom about a non-white family was The Crouches in 2003, which followed the lives of a black working-class south London family as imagined by a white middle-class Glaswegian screenwriter.

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15 October 2008

NewsLab Russia

NewsLab Russia, a new resource archiving extensive Russian television footage, and the first phase of NewsLab Eurasia, is now online :

The Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia at UW Madison has launched an exciting new resource for students and scholars of postcommunist Russia: NewsLab Russia, an online digital archive of Russian television news. Part of NewsLab Eurasia, a broader effort to archive the news in post-Soviet states, NewsLab Russia utilizes new technology to make Russian news broadcasts available for analysis and classroom use. In its first year of operation, NewsLab Russia archived the main evening news broadcast on Russia’s three national television networks (NTV, Channel One, and Rossiya) during a period that encompassed the 2007 Duma elections, the nomination of Dmitri Medvedev to succeed Vladimir Putin as president, and the 2008 Russian presidential election. Support for this initial round of archiving was provided by the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies at UT Austin.

NewsLab Russia draws on the resources of the University of Wisconsin NewsLab, a project initiated by Wisconsin political scientist Ken Goldstein to study local U.S. news. Content from Russia is “captured” from satellite feed and stored on servers in Madison, where Russian-speaking undergraduates “clip” the news, dividing broadcasts into segments and attaching category labels to each segment. Through an online searchable archive, anyone with an Internet connection who is willing to abide by basic terms of use has access to broadcasts from all three stations. Thus, for example, a teacher of Russian might search for a news segment on Russian-Ukrainian relations for instructional use, or a scholar might analyze all reports on Ukraine over a one-year period.

Further information about NewsLab Russia, including registration instructions and a link to the archive itself, are available at

Ted Gerber, Director, CREECA, and Professor of Sociology, UW Madison
Jennifer Tishler, Associate Director, CREECA
Scott Gehlbach, Associate Professor of Political Science, UW Madison

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5 October 2008

Name of Russia

The Name of Russia results are in. Russians have named their top 12 heroes, who will go forward in the television show – starting tonight (Sunday) on Rossia – to compete for top place as the individual symbolising Russia. To great relief, Stalin, who was leading the poll for quite some time, only managed to scrape into the show at number 12. This could be related to the civil society campaign by people horrified by the thought that he could be named Russia’s greatest hero. Instead, Grand Prince Alexander Nevsky from the thirteenth century came first, followed by Pushkin and Dostoevsky. The chemist Dmitry Mendeleev – generally considered the creator of the periodic table – also made it as one of the twelve finalists.

  1. Alexander Nevsky (2 013 942 votes)

  2. Alexander Pushkin (1 784 213)
  3. Fyodor Dostoevsky (1 678 942)
  4. Peter I (Peter the Great) (1 513 987)
  5. Vladimir Lenin (1 358 945)
  6. Alexander Suvorov (1 272 825)
  7. Catherine II (Catherine the Great) (1 266 724)
  8. Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible) (1 217 237)
  9. Peter Stolypin (1 166 220)
  10. Alexander II (1 067 732)
  11. Dmitry Mendeleev (1 045 797)
  12. Josef Stalin (1 045 797)

The list indeed includes internationally revered writers, scientists and leaders (Helsinki hosts a statue of Alexander II; could we imagine a list of great Russians without Lenin?). Nevertheless, public commentators have voiced agitation at the strong-hand emperors and tyrants also listed. Galina Stolyarov on Transitions Online:

If the list tells us what the Russians mean when they talk about the Russian character, it sends a dismaying message. The results also illustrate the extreme sensitivity with which Russians regard their country’s foreign politics; they are proud of victorious campaigns and ashamed of lost wars. Muscle and brute force have clearly won out over spirituality in Russia.

And Yevgeny Kiselyov in The Moscow Times:

The shortlist of the 12 people being considered for the title of “Russia’s All-Time Greatest Citizen” says a lot about the public’s distorted, contradictory and mythologized understanding of their country.

For example, from Russia’s litany of great literary figures, only Alexander Pushkin and Fyodor Dostoevsky are included. Lev Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, and Nobel laureates for literature Ivan Bunin, Boris Pasternak, Mikhail Sholokhov or Joseph Brodsky did not make the top 12. At the same time, seven of the names are princes, tsars, emperors, Bolshevik leaders, tyrants and despots, including Alexander Nevsky, Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Lenin and Stalin.

Both Stolyarov and Kiselyov warn about the conception that, in Kiselyov’s words:

The state is above and beyond everything else; it is always right; everything good in the country exists thanks to our strong and wise rulers; the state’s authority is bestowed by the Almighty; and anybody who does not respect the authorities and who is not thrilled with their performance is not a patriot. That is how Russians have been educated for centuries — with a brief interval during the democratic reforms in the late 1980s and early 1990s — and this tradition has continued throughout the eight years of Vladimir Putin’s presidency.

And both make a call to action for the liberal-minded. They should be taking an active interest, not only in this contest to ensure Stalin does not win, but also in national politics.

14 September 2008

Civil Society in Russia

Russian civil society was out in force today, protesting at the removal of South Park and the possible closing of the TV channel 2×2. (Thanks to Marco for the tip.)

Целью организаторов акции было привлечь внимание общественности к требованиям прокуратуры снять с эфира сериал “Южный парк” и возможному закрытию телеканала “2х2” под давлением религиозных организаций. Кенни, персонаж “Южного парка”, стал символом борьбы граждан за любимый мультфильм.