Kathryn Brownell, Purdue University and Katherine Jewell, Fitchburg State University | Newberry

Kathryn Brownell, Purdue University and Katherine Jewell, Fitchburg State University

Friday, February 8, 2019

3 to 5pm

History of Capitalism Seminar

Kathryn Brownell: Promising an Entertainment Explosion: The National Cable Television Association and the Politics of Cable Television

Exploring previously unexamined records from the National Cable Television Association (NCTA), this paper explores the cable industry’s efforts to rebrand its image during the 1970s. Embarking on a campaign to educate lawmakers about the democratic merits, economic opportunities, and electoral possibilities of cable television, lobbyists mobilized a grassroots army of cable workers and consumers who, in turn, pressured their congressional representatives to deregulate the industry. As a result, viewer demands for service, and notably personalized entertainment services, emerged at the forefront of policy conversations surrounding cable during the 1980s, connecting popular culture, political activism, and the marketplace in new ways.

Katherine Jewell: Commercialism and the FM Counterculture: College Radio and New Directions in the Music Industry in the 1980s

Federal regulation from the FCC shaped the emerging culture of college radio in the 1980s to a point, limiting what was permissible on the air. But regulatory protections also opened up opportunities to air student politics, expand artistic expression, and influenced new directions in the business of popular music. This paper will explore these innovations through station case studies and consider the conflicts that emerged as this new radio culture matured. In particular, questions arose about how college stations could continue to pursue their mission of public interest oriented, educational programming and countercultural authenticity. At the same time, such stations managed to maintain influence in the for-profit music industry, more broadly. As this tension will suggest, battles over commercialism and countercultural authenticity shaped the music industry of the 1980s and 1990s—and explore how developments in business and culture traced to media regulation of decades prior.

Respondent: Michael Stamm, Michigan State University

Cost and Registration Information 

Newberry Scholarly Seminars papers are pre-circulated. For a copy of the paper, email scholarlyseminars@newberry.org. Please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.