Processes of change in British Television: Broadcasters as Active Mediators

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This work has applied a gatekeeping approach to the study of the mediating roles taken by professional national broadcasters at a time of change. The aim has been three fold: to explore the changes that are occurring within the British broadcasting system specifically, and in Europe generally; to see how applicable a gatekeeping type approach is to the study of such developments; and to predict what type of broadcasting order will be emerging.
The approach adopted, because of restrictions of time and cost, has centred upon a case study of the developments occurring within the British television system. The first part of the analysis concentrates on adapting the gatekeeping type approach followed by delineating television's national environment, namely the forces and processes at work in such an area. This is followed by a series of interviews exploring how observed impulses or tendencies of change are being mediated into the national television process by professional broadcasters.
By exploring broadcasters' perceptions and experiences of such change, it was apparent that different paths of development are being taken, dependent on function and organisation. It was also evident that such a divergence is being amplified by structural-functional changes within respective broadcasting organisations, where a process of disaggregation is occurring. Broadcasters are not, however, passive, many exhibit signs of actively mediating change into the broadcasting process, though constrained by their circumstances. This work therefore shows how the homogeneous nature of broadcasting organisations is being redefined, dynamically, becoming more heterogeneous in character and outlook.
While similar tendencies are also to be observed at work in Europe the existence of intervening variables, at the national level, are leading to diverging national routes of development. Apparently the current broadcasting Order, built upon a shared form of national-public broadcasting, is being superseded by one constituted by various types and forms of broadcasting organisations.
This thesis shows that the gatekeeping type approach is applicable to the study of the developments occurring within British and European broadcasting. This is especially so as it is evident that professional broadcasters, the main gatekeepers in the broadcasting channel, are active mediators between the tendencies of change and the broadcasting process itself. They must therefore be understood and treated as important defining actors in the developments currently occurring.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Leeds University
  • Blumler, Jay, Supervisor, External person
  • Taylor, Phil, Director of Studies, External person
Award date1 Jul 1995
Publication statusUnpublished - 1995

Cite this