Paying for Fewer Imports: The BBC License Fee 1975-1981 and Attitudes toward American Imports

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    Abstract

    This article investigates the impact of the BBC license fee negotiations between 1975 and 1981 on the relationship between the broadcaster and American programming. It highlights the increasing dependence of the BBC on imported programming and on the export of content to America due to a series of below-inflation increases that left the BBC financially weakened. The article’s main concern, however, is with the management of attitudes toward American television that were exploited by key executive personnel in the United Kingdom for political ends: the campaign for a higher license fee. The author argues that the successive campaigns during the late 1970s exploited fears of Americanization to emphasize the lowering of quality in the output on the BBC, which connected to debates around public service ideals and hence, to the legitimization of the license fee. The campaigns ultimately also affected public attitudes, which increasingly registered American programming in relation to the lowering of standards on the BBC.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)482-500
    JournalTelevision & New Media
    Volume10
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

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