BFI's vital mission

June 1, 2007

Letter to Anthony Minghella, chair of the British Film Institute's board of governors, and Amanda Nevill, director of the BFI, copied to The Times Higher.

We have read the document The BFI: A Preview on the institute's web page, which details initial plans for a radical overhaul. We applaud the desire to examine how to maintain and develop the BFI's historic mission but are concerned that the document does not address book publishing.

Publishing at the BFI has long been a key component of its national and international image and reputation.

We and many other senior scholars of the media around the world have benefited from the wealth of sophisticated, high-level cultural research and pedagogy that the area has supported and promoted.

As an imprint and a group of in-house intellectuals linked to the wider tasks of the institute (many of whom have been distinguished authors in their own right), BFI Publishing has made a unique contribution to the study of film and television around the globe.

We are not aware of any specific plans the BFI has to evaluate publishing, but with so many segments of public culture at risk through the desire to monetise all and sundry, we want to emphasise the importance of this wing of your activities.

For us, for media studies academics and students around the world, it could not be greater. Publishing at the BFI is an international flagship to millions of people in education.

We urge you to sustain and develop this vital independent voice.

Toby Miller
University of California, Riverside

Tony Bennett
Open University

Charlotte Brunsdon
Warwick University

And 45 other leading academics from around the world

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