SAM Seminar: The Global Rise of the Danish TV Drama

When:29 Mar 2016, 5pm - 6:30pm
Venue:Cinema 327, Robert Webster Building
Who:Pia Jensen, Aarhus University (Denmark)
SAM Seminar

With its small population of only 5.6 million inhabitants, its public service broadcasting dominance, and no recent history of world colonization or immigration, the near global success of Denmark’s television drama series – including titles such as The Killing, Borgen and The Bridge – over the last five years is as unprecedented as it is impressive. In this talk, associate professor Pia Majbritt Jensen from Aarhus University in Denmark explores the reasons for Danish TV drama’s rise to global fame.

Pia Majbritt Jensen is an associate professor in the Department of Media Studies and Journalism at Aarhus University, Denmark and currently a visiting scholar in the School of the Arts, English and Media at the University of Wollongong. Her research revolves around the role of media in globalization processes, and research topics include inter­national television formats and genres, television drama, local media systemic conditions, and production and industry analyses. Current projects include a four-year collaborative research project entitled ‘What makes Danish television drama series travel?’, funded by The Danish Council for Independent Research (2014-2018, see, and she has in December 2015 been rewarded a grant from The Carlsberg Foundation to carry out an individual sub-project entitled ‘Investigating the Global Success of Danish TV Drama’ (2015-2016) whilst in Australia.

The aim of her current research is to investigate the success of Danish television drama from a variety of angles, including an eight-country audience study, of which she is the PI. This audience study constructs international audiences in a novel way by visioning ‘audiences’ not only as regular viewers or as statistics extracted from ratings, but instead as a more complex “three-leaf clover” formation of interacting agents. This three-leaf clover formation corresponds to (1) buyers and distributors, who act as gatekeepers to international markets, (2) journalists and TV critics, who act as arbiters of taste, and (3) regular viewers. These three types of international audiences are all considered critical players in the global success of Danish TV drama. By investigating the specific characteristics of each type of audience and considering their close and complex interrelationships, the study aims to understand the transnational qualities of Danish drama series from multiple angles and to convey how transnational media reception may not only rely on regular viewers but also on buyers, distributors and critics. By doing so, both the methodology and our findings may challenge and develop preeminent theories on media reception and media distribution and geography and, also, address the theoretical challenges of researching phenomena in an increasingly de-territorialized world, where audiences may be paradoxically characterized as both ‘national’ and ‘transnational’.

Finding us
Robert Webster Building is located mid-way off the UNSW main walkway. Map Reference G14. Cinema 327 is located on the third floor. 

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