Keywords: Commissioning Editor; British Television; Specialist Factual; Pierre Bourdieu; Cultural Intermediary.
The article focuses on the professional figure of the commissioning editor, assessing the relevance of the Bourdieusian idea of 'cultural intermediary' for media and production studies. Commissioning editors have been playing a key part in the British television system since the mid-Nineties; they are responsible for finding, selecting and developing ideas as well as contributing to the editorial line of the channel and they act as critical intermediaries between broadcaster and programme supplier. Based on in-depth interviews and participant observation, this essay compares the concepts of 'gatekeeper' and 'intermediary' in media studies, provides an overview of the British television commissioning process, and traces the 'liminality' of the commissioning role. In particular, the symbolic construction of commissioners' identity and the cultural mediation both among different production worlds and between production and consumption are analyzed.