Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Commodification of Television Formats: The Role of Distribution in the Emergence of the Commodity Form
by Choi, Joonseok, Ph.D., The University of Iowa, 2019, 243; 13886658
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines the process of commodifying television formats (e.g., Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Survivor, Big Brother, and Idol) from television show ideas into global commodities. Instead of assuming that a format has always been a commodity, this dissertation seeks to understand the historical process of the transformation from a concept into a commodity. Specifically, it answers three questions: a) What is the process whereby a format obtains property status and becomes a copyrighted work? b) Who enables the transnational movement of a format, and how does that happen? and c) How do people recognize which formats are more valuable than others? To answer these questions, by articulating the distribution of value as a theoretical framework, this dissertation closely examines institutions of format distributions: legal frameworks for copyright, multinational corporations, and global television markets. Through historical analyses, this dissertation reveals that institutions of distribution gave rise to three aspects of the commodity form of formats: legality, functionality, and materiality. The development of these three aspects shows that a format became a commodity, rather than simply a method of copying television programs, only after 2004. This dissertation contends that the long history of copying television show ideas was punctuated by the emergence of the commodity form of formats, distinguishing the present state of global format trade from the previous one.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Zajacz, Rita
Commitee: Havens, Tim, Hingstman, David, McLeod, Kembrew, Sosale, Sujatha
School: The University of Iowa
Department: Communication Studies
School Location: United States -- Iowa
Source: DAI-A 81/3(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Communication, Mass communications
Keywords: Commodity form, Distribution of value, Format copyright, MIPFormats, Super-indie, Television formats
Publication Number: 13886658
ISBN: 9781085792738
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