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Title: British radio broadcasting and its audience, 1918-1939
Author: Pegg, Mark
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1980
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After 1918, radio broadcasting was an important example of the wide range of technological developments which greatly influenced British society. Previously, very little detailed attention has been devoted to the social consequences of the enormous increase in listening to broadcast programmes which occured before 1939. This analysis commences with an investigation of the growth, distribution and structure of the radio audience. It also establishes the main economic and technical influences on the pattern of transmission and reception. The response of the audience to the medium is displayed by reference to the comments and activities of listeners' pressure groups, whilst the views of a rival medium - the national press - are collected by means of a content analysis. The work of inter-war social surveyors is used to place broadcasting in the context of other important social changes which were occuring. The reaction of the BBC is analysed to discover the evolution in the relationship between the two sides of the microphone, whilst an examination of BBC listener research material provides detailed evidence on audience tastes and habits. Finally, three localities are examined to expose the important facets of grassroots behaviour and verify other findings. Throughout the period, the dominance of economic and technological influences on broadcasters and listeners alike is very clear, particularly in the context of an emerging consumer society. Some of the changes in social behaviour attributable to broadcasting were predictable, some unexpected: others depended on the circumstances of listeners and there were many variations in the rate and extent of these changes. Some themes stand out: broadcasting brought immediacy to the reporting of national issues, creating a greater sense of national identity and involvement. Listening also changed the pattern of leisure activity, modified the structure of the family and helped to create a more knowledgeable population.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Radio audiences ; History ; Radio broadcasting ; Great Britain