‘Necessity’ Justifies New Techniques of Manipulation
The BBC Charter that was renewed in December 1946 was essentially unchanged by the heated discussions of the summer. It maintained the Postmaster General’s power of veto. It perpetuated the right of any department to broadcast whatever it liked whenever it liked.1 It made regular coverage of Parliament a written BBC obligation, and it allowed the Postmaster General to require the BBC to ‘refrain from sending any broadcast matter (either particular or general)’.2 Even more remarkably, this requirement could also ‘specify whether or not the Corporation may at its discretion announce that the note has been given’.3 In other words, the government could use the microphone whenever it wanted. It could censor anything to be broadcast on the BBC. And, it could ask the BBC not to tell anyone that the content had been censored. In television the government’s powers were made even broader still.4 Though these clauses were similar to those included in the 1936 licence, the reaction of the press and the BBC to their renewal illustrates both how far broadcasting had changed over the previous decade and highlights contemporary fears about the BBC-government relationship.
KeywordsBritish Government Labour Party Economic Campaign Conservative Party Broadcast Agenda
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