The commercialization of children's television in postsocialist Europe

Katalin Lustyik, Ithaca College


By the beginning of the twenty-first century, the children's television business had become one of the fastest growing sectors of the European media industries. The emerging postsocialist media markets have become a high priority for both transnational and regional media companies looking for new audience groups. In this article, the author provides a historical overview of the transformations that occurred in the arena of children's media culture in Eastern Europe during the last thirty years. Children's television, which attained a symbolic importance in national public debates throughout the region after 1989, can provide a unique lens to examine broader social, political, and cultural issues related to the transformations of postsocialist media systems. The author analyzes the emergence of a new conceptualization of the child media user, who is more influential than ever before, but whose power is given, expressed, and experienced primarily through consumption. Children's television in Hungary is used as a case study to provide an in-depth and detailed analysis of such transformations using diverse sources including TV guides, television programs, and in-depth interviews conducted with media professionals and policymakers between 1998 and 2008. © 2012 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.