A reporter for the Los Angeles Times once noted that “I Love Lucy is said to be on the air somewhere in the world 24 hours a day.” That Lucy’s madcap antics can be watched anywhere at any time is thanks to television syndication, a booming global marketplace that imports and exports TV shows. Programs from different countries are packaged, bought, and sold all over the world, under the watch of an industry that is extraordinarily lucrative for major studios and production companies.
In Global TV, Denise D. Bielb and C. Lee Harrington seek to understand the machinery of this marketplace, its origins and history, its inner workings, and its product management. In so doing, they are led to explore the cultural significance of this global trade, and to ask how it is so remarkably successful despite the inherent cultural differences between shows and local audiences. How do culture-specific genres like American soap operas and Latin telenovelas so easily cross borders and adapt to new cultural surroundings? Why is The Nanny, whose gum-chewing star is from Queens, New York, a smash in Italy? Importantly, Bielby and Harrington also ask which kinds of shows fail. What is lost in translation? Considering such factors as censorship and other such state-specific policies, what are the inevitable constraints of crossing over?
Highly experienced in the field, Bielby and Harrington provide a unique and richly textured look at global television through a cultural lens, one that has an undeniable and complex effect on what shows succeed and which do not on an international scale.