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The Discourse of Community and the Local in British Radio June 28, 2017

Posted by wallofsound in Radio Regulation.

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An abstract for a paper to be delivered at Radio Studies Network: Reaching Out: The past, present and future of BBC Local Radio conference taking place in November 2017 at De Montfort University

This paper examines the language and practices of state regulation that have constructed the idea of ‘community’ and ‘the local’ in British radio and the way they contextualise the formation and development of BBC local radio. In imagining radio’s audience as a community, British regulators, the vested interests of commercial companies and the campaigns of community activists have constructed a complex field of meaning in which the BBC has attempted to establish a distinctive public service. The variability of our regulatory language, and the self-justifying attempts at defining just what a community service and a local audience is, have established distinct public service, commercial, and community traditions to which senior BBC strategists have attempted to intervene.

The paper explores the way that the dominance of a particular public service ideal is negotiated with the increasing influence of commercial orders of discourse, and the active marginalization of concepts of community broadcasting, to form an unevenly successful, but very interesting, relationship between broadcaster and audience.


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