Archive for November 2013

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[ecrea] Call for chapters for a Nordicom book on teletext

Wed Nov 13 05:20:29 GMT 2013

Call for Chapters for a Nordicom book on teletext

We invite colleagues to submit a proposal for a chapter contribution to an edited book on teletext published by Nordicom.

Edited book topic and scope

This edited book will take the ‘forgotten’ medium of teletext as an innovative inroad to understand the way in which ‘new’ media developments - identified as digitization, convergence, hyper-mobility and social media - impact on and are appropriated by ‘old’ media. We invite contributions from colleagues specialized in media and ICT history, media and ICT policy, technology and society, media and language, and other relevant fields to help fill the extensive gap in academic knowledge on the development and the current and future status of teletext as a medium for communication, and contribute to a research framework fit to analyze the impact of the new on the old.

Utilizing free distribution capacity in terrestrial broadcast networks in the 1970s, teletext was the result of experiments that started with subtitle services. Teletext has enjoyed huge and continued success in countries all over Europe, including Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, the Nordic countries and the UK. Indeed, teletext’s popularity with audiences survived the arrival of internet, digitization, mobile and social media. It appears these new media even helped to secure teletext’s continued success e.g., in several countries teletext pages are very popular on the internet, and the teletext mobile media app is the most popular (and most downloaded) app of Flemish public service broadcasting (PSB). This huge success with European audiences contrast sharply with the neglect of teletext by academic researchers. At best it is mentioned ‘in passing’, as by-product of traditional broadcasting services, considered on its way out with the rapid introduction of new hyper-mobile, social and other text-based digital services. Even major works on European broadcasting history tend to neglect this part of the institutional and journalistic development.

As a media technology and service, teletext provides a prime case to understand pressing questions regarding media change. Technologically, teletext represented a ‘pull’ service within what was at the time the ‘push’ domain of broadcasting. In a sense, teletext represented a pre-runner to the world wide web. This is the case content-wise, since teletext made news and other informational services available ’on demand’. The technical restrictions regarding the number of characters and lines for each teletext page led to a special journalistic style: brief, ‘dry’, to the point, similar to today’s RSS feeds and Twitter. Policy-wise, teletext services in many countries became controversial as they represented an expansion for the often publicly funded, public service broadcasters into an area many saw as the territory of newspaper publishers. In several European countries (e.g. Germany) the fight over the organization of teletext services proved an omen for long-lasting debates between PSB and commercial competitors that marked especially the first decade of the 2000s. Elsewhere, in the 1990s, teletext became a probe into the digital future, as broadcasters envisioned a convergence between broadcasting and the internet, and moved to exploit the commercial potential of teletext. During this period, teletext became the centre of attention for some regulatory agencies, e.g. in Norway, as it represented an “acid test” for the future of PSB.

Range of potential contributions

To fill the academic blind spot, the edited book will deal with this forgotten topic by inviting contributions that can be historical and diachronic as well as national and international comparative studies. We expect the edited book to contain 12 to 16 chapters, together with an editors’ introduction.

Questions that can be tackled include:

- Under what institutional, political, technological and economic circumstances did teletext develop in different countries, and how can we understand its success or lack thereof?

- How did teletext content develop in different contexts – from the instant news provision, via classified ads, to “chat room” services – and how can we understand the genres and styles of teletext?

- How can the relative ‘policy silence’ and limited industrial interest throughout the history of teletext - as against its continued success with users - be explained, and what can it tell us about how certain media developments manage to attract policy and industrial attention and others remain in the background?

- How can an analysis of the historical development inform an alternative history of the development of other media such as internet that can question dominant views on these histories?

- How can we understand teletext’s current success in a world of digital, hyper-mobile and social media, and what lessons can we learn from this about dynamics of media change in general?

- In what ways do new media developments impinge on the possibilities and uses of teletext, and how does the morphing of teletext to fit new media platforms (like smart phone apps and websites) change our impression of continuity and disruption in technological developments from an historical perspective?

- How can we develop a conceptual and methodological framework to analyze the impact of new media developments on existing media in a diachronic and transnational perspective?

- What can an analysis of the history of this medium tell us about current issues and debates about the introduction of new media and their impact on existing media?

Instructions for contributors

Abstract of 750 words explaining the topic, theoretical framework and empirical work/case of your proposed chapter as well as a 100 word author’s bio are expected no later than January 15, 2014 and should be sent to (info /at/

Authors will be informed of acceptance no later than February 15. Full manuscripts are to be completed by June 15, 2014. Manuscripts should be between 6000 and 8000 words and must follow APA. They will be submitted to double blind peer review. Expected time of completion of the book is early 2015.

For further information, please write to (info /at/

We look forward to receive your abstracts.

Hallvard Moe (University of Bergen, Norway) and Hilde Van den Bulck (University of Antwerp, Belgium)

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