Voicing climate change? Television, public engagement and the politics of voice

Smith, Joe; Revill, George and Hammond, Kim (2018). Voicing climate change? Television, public engagement and the politics of voice. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 43(4) pp. 601–614.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/tran.12250


This paper examines a body of TV commissions made for BBC Television that formed components of the BBC Climate Chaos season (2006–2007). These commissions represent the first and, to date, only concerted attempt to address the issue of climate change with a range of approaches across a number of broadcast and online platforms within a public service broadcasting context across an extended season. The paper contributes to the task of balancing the relatively extensive body of research into news media coverage of climate change with that of longer form broadcast content. It examines these programmes as a particular moment in the history of broadcasting, lying on the threshold of a proliferating number of TV channels and the burgeoning growth of interactive digital and social media based forms of leisure and public engagement. It takes as its starting point Couldry's plea to make voice a key focus for the promotion of more democratic media spaces. Specifically, it examines this assertion in relation to calls for polyvocality and the need for new and expanded political spaces in relation to human‐induced climate change. The paper contributes to the developing geography of voice in relation to public understanding and debate of complex global issues. At the most practical level, it also assesses a body of innovations and experiments in content, tone and media mix in broadcast television commissions on climate change, and points to areas for future investment.

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