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British quality, American chaos

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This article argues that what has often been presented as a simple, crucial opposition - the British public service broadcasting system versus the US private profit system - in fact demonstrates not only a self-conscious mutual involvement but a set of common objectives that overrides many of their differences. From each broadcasting system’s earliest history, a mutual construction of a dualism loudly proclaimed can be observed, built largely around matters of ownership, funding, and cultural values. What is suggested here is that each system, in practice, was based on only versions of central social and economic control that were operationally different: meanwhile, the proclamation of national differences simply served to justify the stifling of an alternative model of ‘popular’ broadcasting, which threatened each system’s dominance in their respective states.

Keywords: BBC; US Broadcasting; broadcast history; commercial broadcasting; public service broadcasting

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Wisconsin Madison

Publication date: March 1, 2003

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  • The Radio Journal is committed to high-quality, diverse research in the arena of sound broadcasting. The journal is published in association with the Radio Studies Network, the UK's association for researchers and teachers involved in radio studies. Articles examine all aspects of audio media from practice and production in the industry to approaches towards teaching radio studies in institutions. 
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