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Struggles at the BBC

The New York Times today published an interesting piece about the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

For much of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, there was ample handwringing over which was better: the American system of commercial, competitive, market-driven, for-profit broadcasting, or the radio and TV monopoly of the BBC in Great Britain. At the time, the argument could be made that each was superior, or (at least) that each had much to recommend over the other. The matter of which was "better" was never really settled, but it was fun for sociologists, politicians, educators and historians to argue about.

Then, beginning in the 1950s, each system began to respond to societal changes and audience demand by becoming a little like the other. Competition was allowed in Great Britain through the introduction of private broadcasting, while in the US, a nationwide network of public broadcasting began to emerge (though it would not formally coalesce until the 1960s in the case of TV and the 1970s for radio).

Nowadays, broadcasting (commercial and non-commercial) in both the US and the UK faces new challenges to funding and to serving rapidly changing audiences. It we're lucky, it should be fun to watch and to listen to.

(Posted by Feliks Banel)

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Western States Museum of Broadcasting 2021