The Rise of 24-Hour News Television: Global Perspectives

November 4, 2010

As the internet has become not only an important news source, but a force that is rapidly merging traditional news platforms, television, print media and subjective postings, it is somewhat surprising that the traditional form of 24-hour news television is still in the focus of academic debate and - in fact - the theme of an entire volume.

CNN, the model for many of today's news channels, gained its market niche primarily because other US networks did not conceive of news as a lucrative "business" in the 1980s. In particular, it was CNN's implementation of "breaking news" - of covering a news story in substantial detail as it unfolds - that would drive its national and international commercial success and reinforce its dominant role in many international crises.

Since the mid-1990s, however, there have been a number of changes: advancements in satellite technology including "direct-to-home" television via small, affordable satellite dishes; the enlargement of satellite capacity; and a political imperative to counterbalance CNN's monopoly in breaking news coverage of international crises. These have led to the growth of multiple commercial, public-service and state-owned satellite news channels. Today, hundreds of satellite news channels create worldwide "information routes" and indeed, symbolic political territories of a new kind as (and this is an important phenomenon) a large number of non-Western news platforms have emerged.

However, traditional satellite news channels are now losing ground in a news environment where the power of immediacy is gaining ever greater momentum. A globalised, "networked" public is seeking new spaces of deliberation, including highly dynamic interactive platforms such as Twitter and YouTube that offer additional, often subjective frames for political crises.

The Rise of 24-Hour News Television offers an excellent overview of these developments and also serves as an introduction for those who are interested in the political and cultural role of satellite television news in both a historical and contemporary trans-regional perspective. Its four chapters, written by 17 authors, address the history of satellite news, the parameters of the marketisation of "breaking news", a number of regional profiles and the editorial strategies of news channels.

Given that a number of articles cover the impact of transnational news channels on the perceived legitimacy of mainly national political action in quite diverse world regions, a clearer focus on these key issues could have been helpful for a better understanding of the new role of satellite news channels in a networked environment and today's globalised public arena. For example, the chapters discussing satellite news channels in regions such as Gaza, China, Germany, Latin America and India reveal the integration of satellite news in distinct cultures of political discourse that are often overlooked in other publications.

This volume serves as a detailed introduction to the subject, but those of us who are familiar with these discourses may feel that in its consideration of satellite television news for transnational "mobile" publics, not only younger generations but also migrant communities are missing.

Overall, however, the book offers many fresh angles and may inspire debate not only about satellite news channels, but also about the quality parameter of rolling news journalism in a dynamic, transnational, networked news space.

The Rise of 24-Hour News Television: Global Perspectives

Edited by Stephen Cushion and Justin Lewis. Peter Lang. 350pp, £75.40 and £20.30. ISBN 9781433107771 and 07764. Published 15 June 2010

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