BBC science: a question of control

Jones, Allan (2008). BBC science: a question of control. In: Second Conference of the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA), 25-28 Nov 2008, Barcelona, Spain.


Several times in the BBC's history, from 1928 to around 1963, the world of professional science has attempted to influence, and even control, the BBC's practices regarding science coverage. The main scientific lobbyists of the BBC were the Royal Society, the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, together with less prominent individuals and organisations. The proposals made by these bodies and individuals were consistent over several decades and from organisation to organisation, and involved the institutional world of science being given more control over the BBC's science output. These proposals (which were unsuccessful) were a threat to the BBC's autonomy.
The paper examines the background of these scientific interventions and the BBC's constitutional status as an autonomous organisation. It finds that there was a high degree of symmetry between the BBC's role as a public service broadcaster and the scientists' roles as disseminators of scientific knowledge.
The paper concludes by framing the scientists' interventions, and the BBC's response, in the light of scholarship relating to the construction of social structure through social interaction.

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