Thatcher, Thatcherism and British Broadcasting Policy
Rundfunk und Geschichte 40(1-2): 63-76, 2014
20 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2015 Last revised: 13 Sep 2015
Date Written: 2014
Margaret Thatcher personified a commitment to free market economics while also embodying a conservatism with its faith in authority, allegiance and tradition. The issue at stake in this article is how the Thatcherite philosophy wished to, and in fact did, affect the development of public service broadcasting (PSB). In the first instance we lay out the respective policy narrative of Thatcher governments, treating developments from the establishing of Channel 4 and the Hunt Report to, quintessentially, the Peacock Report, the Broadcasting Act 1990 and beyond. The following section presents a series of incidents, exemplifying the political tension between Thatcher, her governments and British broadcasters. Subsequently, the article provides for an interpretation of how PSB was, and is, the scene of the colossal ideological struggle over what should constitute the values and logics of late modernity, invoking an effort to get “the public” and “public institutions” to re-imagine themselves as consumers not citizens, as purveyors of marketable goods rather than public goods.
Keywords: broadcasting policy, media policy, BBC, public service broadcasting, Thatcherism, modernity, neoliberalism
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