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Title: Regulation of the British mass media : a historical institutionalist account
Author: Roberts, Brian K.
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis is centrally concerned with the historical development and performance of two sectors which have together constituted the mainstay of the British mass media, namely terrestrial broadcasting and the printed press. It sets out to discover how and why two sectors born of the same national setting, and whose regulatory arrangements were formally constructed in historical perspective at roughly the same moment in time, have developed to be so different. It argues that part of the answer lies in an explanatory variable neglected by existing accounts of British media development, namely the institutional variable. Thus, whilst incorporating insights from leading accounts that view British media development from 'outside in'; as the product of external forces acting upon media institutions; this thesis constructs a complementary account of British media development which emphasises how and why Britain's foremost mass media have been heavily dependent on their prior institutional histories. For the purposes of concision, the thesis refers to this perspective as the view from 'inside out'. To make its case, the thesis applies concepts drawn from the historical institutionalist (HI) school of political science, such as historical timing and sequence, self-reinforcing positive feedback, institutional isomorphism, path dependence, windows of opportunity and critical junctures, exploring how and why the institutional structures of the British press and British broadcasting developed over time, and outlining why an HI perspective adds significant value to the current knowledge base. The thesis comes in three parts. In Part One, the respective performances of British broadcasting and the British press under formal regulation are analysed. In Part Two, the sectoral differences identified in Part One are explained, first by means of three leading narratives that perceive media development from 'outside in'; and secondly via a HI account which views development from 'inside out'. Finally, in Part Three, the thesis focuses upon the current state of play and longer term prospects of the institution of British public service broadcasting. There it considers whether, in light of current powerful external forces of change, a regulatory policy paradigm shift has occurred. Though it does not discount the propensity for change in the current climate, it argues that the path dependent nature of three recent significant policy developments shows that, even in the digital age, media institutions and their histories continue to matter.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available