Broadcasting Empire: The BBC and the British World, by Simon J. Potter

By Simon J. Potter

Broadcasting was once born simply because the British empire reached its maximum territorial volume, and matured whereas that empire started to resolve. Radio and tv provided contemporaries the beguiling prospect that new applied sciences of mass conversation could make amends for British imperial decline. In Broadcasting Empire, Simon J. Potter indicates how, from the Nineteen Twenties, the BBC used broadcasting to unite audiences at domestic with the British settler diaspora in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. excessive tradition, royal ceremonial, activity, or even comedy have been harnessed to this finish, really at the BBC Empire provider, the predecessor of contemporary international carrier. Belatedly, in the course of the Nineteen Fifties, the BBC additionally started to reflect on the function of broadcasting in Africa and Asia, as a way to inspire 'development' and to strive against resistance to persisted colonial rule. besides the fact that, through the Sixties, as decolonization entered its ultimate, sped up part, the BBC staged its personal imperial retreat.

This is the 1st full-length, scholarly learn to envision either the house and abroad points of the BBC's imperial undertaking. Drawing on new archival facts, it demonstrates how the BBC's household and imperial roles, whereas likely special, actually exerted a robust impression over each other. Broadcasting Empire makes a major contribution to our knowing of the transnational heritage of broadcasting, emphasising geopolitical rivalries and tensions among British and American makes an attempt to exert effect at the world's radio and tv systems.

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Extra resources for Broadcasting Empire: The BBC and the British World, 1922-1970

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How would the BBC use short wave? 52 The quasi-biblical motto of the BBC’s coat of arms, ‘Nation Shall Speak Peace Unto Nation’, reflected the Christian idealism that underpinned Reith’s view of the international role of radio: [Broadcasting] cannot in the nature of things be restricted by frontiers, natural or otherwise, [it] should link up the earth and promote a spirit of world citizenship. Sooner or later people in all parts will be in touch with each other, and by music, speeches, statements of policy and in many other ways Broadcasting will play its part in the establishment of world unity .

Could wireless also transcend the empire’s own internal boundaries and divisions? Transmissions across national boundaries were limited by the fact that most broadcasters operated on the medium waveband. Their signals could generally reach listeners at best a few hundred miles distant from the transmitter (further at night). However, signals on other wavebands could be picked up by more remote receivers. Long waves were initially the favoured distance carrier. The British GPO opened a long-wave radiotelegraph station at Rugby, Warwickshire, in 1926.

46 The Australian Broadcasting Company Year Book 1930, quoted in Counihan, ‘Construction of Australian Broadcasting’, 225–6, original emphasis. 47 Brown to Reith, 10 September 1929, WAC, E1/341/1. 48 For a fuller discussion of the Aird Commission and the BBC model, see Simon J. Potter, ‘Britishness, the BBC, and the Birth of Canadian Public Broadcasting, 1928–1936’ in Gene Allen and Daniel Robinson (eds), Communicating in Canada’s Past: Essays in Media History (Toronto, 2009). Aird quoted in summary of public hearings held at Quebec City, 5 June 1929, LAC, RG42, 1077/227-10-8.

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