Disrupting Networks from Below
Edited by Tineke M. Egyedi and Donna C. Mehos
Chapter 4: Centralization and Decentralization: A History of Local Radio and Television Distribution
Thea Weijers INTRODUCTION Most literature on large technical systems (LTSs), including that on infrastructures, describes them as being centrally governed and controlled (e.g. Hughes 1983; Edwards et al. 2007; Van der Vleuten 2000). Centralized control is part and parcel of the dominant infrastructure paradigm. In this volume that paradigm is under debate. Several examples of a new type of infrastructure are given: systems that are not governed centrally or controlled top-down, i.e., inverse infrastructures. In the introduction, Egyedi, Mehos and Vree (this volume) argue that these inverse infrastructures are fundamentally different from LTSs, and – although certain similarities exist – even from early LTS developments. In their early stages, LTSs consist of innovative, local and small-scale initiatives, just as inverse infrastructures do. However, according to Egyedi et al., there are important differences in terms of ownership, accessibility and control. In emerging LTSs accessibility is limited; that is, only few have the resources to start a local initiative, and ownership and control over the infrastructure is clear. Inverse infrastructures, on the other hand, are broadly accessible. Moreover, even though ownership of the decentral units that constitute the infrastructure may be clear, the ownership and control over the overall infrastructure is not. In this chapter I will explain how the distribution and reception of radio and television (RTV) in the Netherlands had similarities with the inverse infrastructure phenomenon before it finally developed into an LTS. For a long time, the development of these systems remained local and small scale and included a variety of...
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