Republic on the Wire: Cable Television, Pluralism, and the Politics of New Technologies, 1948-1984 (Paperback)

Republic on the Wire: Cable Television, Pluralism, and the Politics of New Technologies, 1948-1984 By John McMurria Cover Image
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The history of cable television in America is far older than networks like MTV, ESPN, and HBO, which are so familiar to us today. Tracing the origins of cable TV back to the late 1940s, media scholar John McMurria also locates the roots of many current debates about premium television, cultural elitism, minority programming, content restriction, and corporate ownership.  Republic on the Wire takes us back to the pivotal years in which media regulators and members of the viewing public presciently weighed the potential benefits and risks of a two-tiered television system, split between free broadcasts and pay cable service. Digging into rare archives, McMurria reconstructs the arguments of policymakers, whose often sincere advocacy for the public benefits of cable television were fueled by cultural elitism and the priority to maintain order during a period of urban Black rebellions. He also tells the story of the people of color, rural residents, women’s groups, veterans, seniors, and low-income viewers who challenged this reasoning and demanded an equal say over the future of television.  By excavating this early cable history, and placing equality at the center of our understanding of media democracy, Republic on the Wire is a real eye-opener as it develops a new methodology for studying media policy in the past and present.    

About the Author

JOHN MCMURRIA is an assistant professor in the department of communication at the University of California, San Diego. He is the coauthor of Global Hollywood and Global Hollywood 2.

Praise For…

"Republic on the Wire is an incisive, original work that reveals the enduring stakes for democracy in the history of our media policy."
— Jennifer Holt

"Grounded in fresh empirical and archival work, Republic on the Wire shows us the continuities between an understudied niche of television history and new media development and policy."
— Vicki Mayer

"[A] deeply researched and compellingly argued new book [and a] useful contribution to media history research as well as debates about media policy."
— Media Industries

Product Details
ISBN: 9780813585291
ISBN-10: 0813585295
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Publication Date: February 1st, 2017
Pages: 240
Language: English