Competition and Public Service Broadcasting: Stimulating Creativity or servicing Capital?
In UK public service broadcasting, recent regulatory change has increased the role of the private sector in television production, culminating in the BBC's recent introduction of 'creative competition' between in-house and independent television producers. Using the concept of 'cognitive distance', this paper focuses on the increasing role of the independent sector as a source of creativity and innovation in the delivery of programming for the BBC. The paper shows that the intended benefits of introducing new competencies into public service broadcasting have been thwarted by, on the one hand, a high level of cognitive proximity between in-house and external producers and, on the other, a conflict in values between the BBC and the independent sector, with the latter responding to a commercial imperative that encourages creativity in profitable genres, leaving gaps in other areas of provision. While recent regulatory reform appears to have had a limited impact on the diversity of programming, it does suggest a closer alignment of programme content with the imperatives of capital. Implications for the literature on communities of practice are noted.
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