The Contexts Pressures and Constraints of Television Production

Mirzoeff (2002) posits that the televisual public sphere format:fosters a particular form of spectatorship: it creates a split or multiple identifications, in which there is an approximate reflection of the viewer’s experience, but also simultaneously, a re-channelling of this experience into a limited number of conventional and highly moralised narratives (p.451).On the other hand, the commercial factors influencing television production have fuelled debate as to the impact of the free market model on the development and nature of television drama texts (Allen amp. Hill, 2004, p52). For example, Allen amp. Hill highlight that the conflict between the commercial factors influencing television production and the liberal reformer position in favour of protection of the television market model from commercial factors has, in turn, impacted the narrative form and content of television drama (2004, p.52).The focus of this paper is to critically evaluate the extent to which the constraints, pressures, and factors influencing television production have influenced the nature of television drama texts with contextual reference to Fox TV’s US drama Prison Break, which aired between 2005 and 2009. It is submitted as a central proposition in this paper that within the mainstream media model, the nature of the television drama text is intrinsically dependent on the external factors impacting the television production model. which often includes commercial considerations. However, it is submitted that the high-end production of Prison Break and interweaving of multi-layered narratives akin to a cinematic production for film, is symptomatic of a distinct change in television production as a result of increasing fragmentation of the target audience and the mainstream television market (Harden amp. Heyman, 2009).For example, the digital era has led to numerous channels of communication, which in turn has had a significant impact on conventional television (Anderson amp. Gray, 2008).