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Title: Employment restructuring in public sector broadcasting : the case of the BBC
Author: Nicholls, Peter Leonard.
Awarding Body: University of the West of England, Bristol,
Current Institution: University of the West of England, Bristol
Date of Award: 2006
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This thesis examines the nature and impact of a set of policies formulated during the 1980s upon the labour process of television production. It locates both the nature of the reforms and the details of their impact within a broader account of the BBC which had become the special target for the government of Margaret Thatcher during the 1980s. The study reports upon the emergence and development of a particular set of work practices associated with television production within the BBC. Working within a set of ideas called 'public service broadcasting,' the workforce had relied upon a unique set of operating procedures that had survived well into the 1980s. This so-called "privileged" organisation, reliant upon a license fee for its income, became the object of intense interest when an expanding media industry was looking for additional opportunities for growth including the advertising industry. For those seeking to restructure this powerful organisation, often considered to represent many of the core values of British society, such as free speech and a liberal tradition resulting in high quality creative programmes, the challenge was to depict an organisation that was in need of modernisation. The form that modernisation took, under a government claiming to want to reduce the scale of the state, was an adoption of neo-liberalism. Instead of a heavy bureaucratic state machine, open Inarkets would allocate resources in television in the fonn of consumer choice. Policies would be devised to replace centralised bureaucracy with devolved budgets Inonitored by accurate financial information systems. This it was clailned would place the BBC within a dynamic market place where a burgeoning independent sector would supply a fresh source of creative talent and drive down costs. Such claims made for the legislation and a number of management policies which sought to reinforce these statutory reforms within the Corporation, appear not to be supported by the findings where there is strong evidence of the growth of temporary non-standard employment in place of secure full-time jobs. This has resulted in lowered commitment and motivation in the workforce. The new procedures for the production process of television Inanufacturing resulted in unforeseen inefficiencies which held the potential to increase costs. Alongside these problems, the role of the producer had been redefined to the point where informal social and political skills were required and supplemented the core creative skills which had traditionally defined this role. The introduction of market-driven reforms has redefined the nature of the television labour process. From the results of this research, it appears that a series of contradictions and unanticipated outcomes makes many of the original claims for these policies appear hollow. If this public sector broadcaster as an agency of the central state is to survive and flourish, it will have to create a role for its producers which allows for sustaining trust, open and honest cOlnmunications and creativity. The teams with which they work will need security, training and careers for sustaining motivation and ambition.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available