The American System

David Goodman

in Radio's Civic Ambition

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780195394085
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894383 | DOI:
The American System

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The passage of the 1934 Communications Act was a decisive but qualified defeat for the radio reformers who favored alternatives to commercial radio (and often admired the BBC). Public interest regulation had effects, and there was far more high cultural, educational and civic programming on American radio after 1934 than the commercial broadcasters left alone would have provided. In a comparative broadcasting history perspective, the American network broadcasters (NBC, CBS) can be seen as struggling to combine public service broadcasting functions with the profitable sale of entertainment. James Rowland Angell's public service broadcasting work at NBC exemplified these tensions. The broadcasters portrayed national choices about broadcasting policy as between two stark alternatives – free radio or complete state control. That obscured the many effective hybrids and compromises that other nations found satisfactory, but also the distinguished history of government broadcasting in the US – exemplified by the Department of Agriculture's radio activities.

Keywords: radio reformers; public interest; BBC; NBC; CBS; comparative broadcasting history; James Rowland Angell; broadcasting policy; public service broadcasting; US Department of Agriculture

Chapter.  32288 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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