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European Television: Immigrants and Ethnic Minorities

By Edward Girardet

French editors Claire Frachon and Marion Vargaftig, two specialists in cultural, social and humanitarian broadcast trends, have now come out with an updated English-language version of European Television -- Immigrants and Ethnic Minorities.

Originally published in French in 1994 (see CROSSLINES January-February 1994), the 300-page book explores how television portrays immigrant and minority groups, whether in the traditional countries of immigration, those which used to export labour, or those which are now facing an influx of refugees or demands from settled minorities. More specifically, it looks at which programmes on French, German, British, Swedish and other European televisions are specifically targeted at these groups and how much airtime they receive.

Offering new perspectives by a variety of writers and broadcast producers, this new version examines how Europeans, both young and old, can communicate with people from different backgrounds in the face of mounting racism and xenophobia, not just when conflict and violence break out, as as in ex-Yugsoslavia or Turkey, but in their everyday lives whether Muslim Asian communities in Manchester, Algerians in the Paris suburbs, or Sri Lankan refugees in Stockholm.

The book further questions the extent to which current European programming, such as children's shows or current events magazines, can influence how foreigners are excepted or excluded. Can such shows increase or even create prejudice -- or help to overcome it? Frachon and Vargaftig provide an inventory of recent programmes produced in 15 different countries, most of them from the European Union but also the Czech and Slovak Republics, Hungary, and Switzerland. They offer an exceptionally useful thumbnail sketch of immigration in each country, with a glance at the general broadcasting scene and policies of the different channels and networks.#

Edward Girardet is Editor of Crosslines Global Report.