This thesis presents a picture of Portuguese television’s recent and current state, placing this picture in the larger context of similar developments in Europe. Although it describes the history of Portuguese television, it is specially focused on the last decade, starting with the privatisation of two channels, in the beginning of the 1990s, and proceeding up to 2002. The last part of this period is characterised by a new phenomenon: “reality” TV. \ud The research focuses on developments in television programming and the main differences between public and private channels. Being the key actors in these processes, the policy-makers are given special attention. The objective is to find out how they make their choices, why they decide to take certain directions, how they look at the panorama of programming and how they react to their critics. \ud Since the television scene involves many actors this research also describes and evaluates the opinions of groups of different categories of television viewer: critics of television, academics specialising in this field, members of a viewers association and the minister responsible for the media. \ud A multi-methodology approach includes an analysis of a number of articles selected from the press, an examination of programme schedules during one week in 2000, focus-group discussions, and interviews. All the quantitative and qualitative data collected is analysed in the context of a broad discussion of the public service mission, the market share, the legal framework, and national investment policy
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