Reshaping media public sphere

ILC Louvain-La-Neuve, Mons


Reshaping media public sphere: A comparative perception analysis of new TV programmes showcasing political representatives from Belgium, France and Great Britain.

For several years now political representatives have been putting in appearances on hybrid infotainment programmes or on entertainment programmes only.
Those typically Anglo-American showcases have spread throughout West-European countries since the end of the nineties (see Brants et Neijens, 1998 ; Neveu, 2003 ; Jones, 2005 ; Le Foulgoc, 2010 ; Stanyer, 2013 ; Wheeler, 2013).

However, academics have been debating how influential these redesigned political TV shows may impact on the citizens’ socio-political knowledge, on their trust towards political institutions and on their civic commitment (see among others Baum, 2003 ; Prior, 2003 ; Jones, 2005 ; Van Zoonen, 2005 ; Street, Inthorn, Scott, 2013). This study aims at providing an empirical testing framework so as to set up comparative research on the way young TV viewers look upon infotainment programmes. Encompassing three countries, Belgium, France and Great Britain, this research is built around two methodological points, namely a questionnaire to be filled in by first-time voters and collective interviews via targeted discussion groups.

Methodology and lines of research

The research places the reception analysis of infotainment broadcasts in a comparative approach. The latter is based on the construction of a sample of receivers within three national contexts: French-speaking Belgium, France and Great Britain.

The research is structured around two main components.

A first quantitative component via the distribution of a questionnaire to the target of our study, young first-time voters.
This is to determine the profile of people who consume infotainment broadcasts.

A second part, qualitative, targets the reading grids of the receivers.
Beyond the decoding, it will be a question of bringing to light the methods of appropriation of the messages.
This second part of the survey will proceed by semi-structured interviews.


The research is carried out under the direction of :
Marc Lits , Professor at the School of Communication.
Joëlle Desterbecq , post-doctoral researcher.

The project is funded by the Scientific Research Fund – FNRS and its associated funds from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2015.

The research is carried out within the framework of the Communication department of the Language and Communication Institute (IL&C). It is based on the work in media analysis carried out by the ORM.

For twenty years, the Observatory for Research on Media and Journalism (formerly Observatory of Media Narrative) has been interested in media discourse.

Among these we can cite political events (from the attacks of September 11, 2001 to the "true-false" RTBF television news of December 13, 2006 or the Belgian political crisis of summer 2007), political actors and their speeches (political peopolization; storytelling; populist discourses; polemical discourse). This research is based on a methodological framework based on the socio-economic approach of the media system, on models of interpretation of the media narrative and on analyzes of media users in an ethno-sociological approach.

Benchmarking the reception of infotainment broadcasts is part of the latter approach.