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Title: Paternalists, populists and Pilkington : the struggle for the soul of British television, 1958-1963
Author: Milland, Jeffrey
ISNI:       0000 0001 3398 7428
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2005
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This thesis examines crucial decisions made about British broadcasting in the five years after 1958, when television first reached five million homes in Britain, and when, it was believed, working-class people had become a majority of the audience. The Pilkington Committee on the Future of Broadcasting was commissioned after some years' uncertainty by a Conservative Government in 1960, allowing it to postpone determining its own policy. The Committee published its Report in 1962, recommending a second television channel for the BBC but not for ITV. The following year, there followed a paternalist and restrictive Television Act. The BBC's dominance in British broadcasting was, as a result, assured for several decades, and commercial television, which had made controversially large profits by exploiting the public taste for undemanding entertainment, was brought under the control of a strengthened Independent Television Authority, emerging from it only in the 1990s. But, at a time when, it was thought, social change meant the end of deference, British television, in which the paternalist tradition was ubiquitous, remained an area where deference was actually enforced. Viewers were expected, much of the time on all available channels, to accept the primacy of the taste of the educated middle-class. Although the Pilkington Committee's recommendation for restructuring ITV was rejected, its Report was nonetheless instrumental in confirming a long-lasting paternalist bias in the system. The thesis analyses the Committee's approach, and argues that its importance should be recognised. Why, it is also asked, did a Conservative Government acquiesce in establishing a pattern of broadcasting contrary to the principles of free enterprise and competition in which it professed to believe? The answer is found in the ambivalence about social change which characterised Conservatism until the Thatcherite victory of the 1980s, and in the puritanical anti-commercialism of the Left.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available