Professor Catherine Johnson

Professor Catherine Johnson


I have over twenty years of experience researching and teaching the screen media industries, with a focus on television, digital media, media policy and the promotional screen industries.

I joined the University of Leeds in August 2023, having previously worked at the University of Huddersfield (where I led the REF21 submission for Media, Journalism and Film) and before that at the University of Nottingham (where I had research, impact and teaching leadership roles).

My teaching, research and leadership is underpinned by a belief in the value of academic research beyond academia. My research has informed industry and policy, including at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), BBC, Channel 4, YouTube, Red Bee Media and Ofcom. I am a member of the DCMS College of Experts and have advised the DCMS Select Committee on the future of public service media and on their scrutiny of the Media Bill. I act as Director of Impact for the School of Media and Communication at the University of Leeds.


  • Director of Impact, School of Media and Communication

Research interests

My research is pimarily focused on the ways in which media industries adaopt to change. 

I currently lead the Public Service Media in the Age of Platforms project (PSM-AP), funded by a €1.5m CHANSE grant, that examines the impact of global streaming platforms on public service media in six countries. The project involves comparative analysis of the impact of platformisation on the values underpinning public service television at three levels: 1) policy and regulation; 2) the organisational practices of PSMs; 3) the schedules, interfaces and texts produced by PSM organisations. Alongside this focus on policy, organisations and texts, I also lead the Routes to Content project (Routes to Content), which examines the changing ways in which people watch and discover television programmes. Routes to Content brings audience insights to bear on industry, policy and academic debates about the ways in which mediatisation and digitisation might be altering and potentially limiting the kinds of culture and information people encounter. 

Knowledge exchange is a fundamental part of my approach to research, and much of my research is produced in dialogue or collaboration with industry/policy stakeholders, such as Ofcom, Red Bee Media and the European Broadcasting Union. I have developed a strong reputation for my research among industry and policy stakeholders and am regularly invited to share my research with external partners. This has included: 

  • Appointment to the DCMS College of Experts (Mar 2022 – present). 

  • Acting as Special advisor to the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee Inquiry into the Future of Public Service Broadcasting (Apr 2020 – Mar 2021), and Scrutiny of the Draft Media Bill (May-Aug 2023).

  • Providing oral evidence at the House of Lords Select Committee Inquiry into the Future Funding of the BBC, 2022. 

  • Presenting my research at industry conferences, such as the Voice of the Listener and Viewer (2022), the Parliamentary Internet, Communication and Technology Forum (2022, the all-party parliamentary group for ICT), the Westminster Media Forum (2020 and 21), and the Institute for Public Policy Research conference (2020).

My research background is interdisciplinary in nature, covering media and cultural industries, economics, regulation, policy, audiences, texts and histories, utilising a range of methods, including analysis of policy, regulatory, trade and archive documents, qualitative and quantitative data, cultural texts and interfaces. I enjoy working in comparative, inter- and multidisciplinary settings. I have previously worked on multidiscplinary projects with scholars in Health Sciences and Midwifery, Drama, Music and Sociology, and frequently conduct geographically comparative research.

My current research interests build on over twenty-five years of researching screen media culture. My first monograph (Telefantasy) examined the industrial history of the production of UK and US telefantasy from the 1950s to the 1990s, using telefantasy as a site to examine aesthetic innovation in television. Subsequent monographs have examined the emergence of branding in the television industries (Branding Television), the industrial sectors behind the ‘paratextual turn’ in media studies (Promotional Screen Industries, co-authored with P. Grainge), and the convergence of the internet and television (Online TV). 

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD in Film and Television Studies, University of Warwick
  • MA in Media Studies, University of Sussex
  • BA in Drama and Theatre Studies, Royal Holloway University of London
  • Postgraduate Cert in Academic Practice, University of Southampton

Professional memberships

  • ICA

Student education

I have taught undergraduate and postgraduate modules in media and cultural policy, the media and cultural industries, television studies and television history, streaming media, promotional culture and screen marketing.

I have a long track record of successfully supervising postgraduate research students to completion and would be interested in supervising students with interests related to my areas of expertise, including screen media industries, audiences and policy.

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>