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A Future for Public Service Television$
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Des Freedman and Vana Goblot

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781906897710

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9781906897710.001.0001

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Television and Public Service: A Brief History1

Television and Public Service: A Brief History1

(p.123) 12 Television and Public Service: A Brief History1
A Future for Public Service Television
Des Freedman, Vana Goblot
The MIT Press

This chapter traces the history of public service television. The history of British public service broadcasting policy in the 20th century is characterized by a series of very deliberate public interventions into what might otherwise have developed as a straightforward commercial marketplace. The creation of the BBC, the launch of an ITV network required to produce public service programming, and the addition of the highly idiosyncratic Channel 4 gave the UK a television ecology animated by quality, breadth of programming and an orientation towards serving the public interest. At each of these three moments, the possibilities of public service television were expanded and British culture enriched as a result. The 1990 Broadcasting Act and the fair wind given to multichannel services may have ended the supremacy of the public service television ideal. However, public service television has survived, through the design of the institutions responsible for it, because of legislative protection, and as a result of its continuing popularity amongst the public.

Keywords:   public service television, television broadcasting, broadcasting history, BBC, ITV network

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