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Competition and Public Service Broadcasting: Stimulating Creativity or servicing Capital?


  • Turner, S.
  • Lourenço, A.


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Turner, S. & Lourenço, A., 2010. "Competition and Public Service Broadcasting: Stimulating Creativity or servicing Capital?," Working Papers wp408, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cbr:cbrwps:wp408
    Note: PRO-2

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nooteboom, Bart, 1999. "Innovation, Learning and Industrial Organisation," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(2), pages 127-150, March.
    2. North, Douglass C, 1994. "Economic Performance through Time," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 359-368, June.
    3. Bart Nooteboom, 2000. "Learning by Interaction: Absorptive Capacity, Cognitive Distance and Governance," Journal of Management & Governance, Springer;Accademia Italiana di Economia Aziendale (AIDEA), vol. 4(1), pages 69-92, March.
    4. Joanne Roberts, 2006. "Limits to Communities of Practice," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(3), pages 623-639, May.
    5. Amin, Ash & Roberts, Joanne, 2008. "Knowing in action: Beyond communities of practice," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 353-369, March.
    6. Simon Deakin & Ana Lourenço & Stephen Pratten, 2009. "No "third way" for economic organization: Networks and quasi-markets in broadcasting," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(1), pages 51-75, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Turner, Simon & Allen, Pauline & Bartlett, Will & Pérotin, Virginie, 2011. "Innovation and the English National Health Service: A qualitative study of the independent sector treatment centre programme," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(4), pages 522-529, August.

    More about this item


    Cognitive distance; Governance; Public sector reforms; Networks .;

    JEL classification:

    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • L23 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Organization of Production
    • L24 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Contracting Out; Joint Ventures


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