Uncertain Vision: Birt, Dyke and the Reinvention of the BBC

September 21, 2004

The BBC is the world's most famous and powerful cultural institution. Throughout its 80-year existence it has attracted controversy and political bullying, as well as epitomising globally broadcasting's democratic potential and the heights to which non-commercial broadcasting can aspire. It remains the model for public broadcasters around the world.

Dr Georgina Born of the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences at Cambridge University has published a book, Uncertain Vision, providing the definitive portrait of this remarkable institution in the 1990s and early 2000s, during dangerously uncertain times for public broadcasting. Based on the first such sustained research ever conducted inside the BBC, funded for three years by the ESRC, Dr Born gained access to all ranks of the organization.

Uncertain Vision gives an extraordinary analysis of the corporation during the later 1990s, the last years of the regime of the former director-general John Birt, and the early 2000s, including Greg Dyke's reign as director-general, the tumultuous events around the Hutton Inquiry and the BBC's entry into digital broadcasting. It gives the background to the Hutton crisis in changes to the BBC's journalism; and argues that in the face of increasing and inappropriately intrusive oversight by government, the BBC has rescued government policy by pioneering a free-to-air digital platform and digital channels.

The book probes the policies of the Birt period, which it analyses as a form of political subordination and charges with eroding the creativity of the BBC and with fuelling the declining quality of British television. It uncovers the damage to good programme-making caused by the centralisation of programme commissioning and the growing obsession with markets, market share, market research and management consultancy under Birt - many of them continuing trends.

Looking ahead to the future, Uncertain Vision makes a cogent argument for a new kind of self-regulation on the part of the BBC. It outlines also a new philosophical rationale to underpin the BBC's ever greater importance in a pluralist world.
The book is published by Secker and Warburg, Tel: 44-207-840-8649. ISBN 0436205629


Dr Georgina Born, University of Cambridge, Tel: 44-122-374-0846, 44-796-828-1026 or Email: gemb2@cam.ac.uk

Or Becky Gammon at ESRC on Tel: 44-179-341-3122 or Email: becky.gammon@esrc.ac.uk

Economic & Social Research Council

Related Aspire Articles from Brightsurf:

Understanding declining teenage pregnancies in England
Declining rates of teenage pregnancies in England are related to local areas experiencing less youth unemployment, growing Black or South Asian teenage populations, more educational attainment, unaffordable housing, and a lack of available social housing, a recent study has found.

University of South Carolina research finds trigger that leads to faster nerve healing
Damaged nerves regenerate faster when protein clusters are broken apart, releasing mRNAs that can be used to rebuild the nerve.

Regenstrief, IU study finds assigning hospitalists by unit has both pros and cons
Hospital medicine is the fastest growing medical specialty. Researchers from Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University School of Medicine have conducted the first time-motion study in over a decade to assess the impact of geographic cohorting of hospitalists.

Financial therapy can aid well-being, stability
Financial therapy could help couples navigate disagreements, money concerns and financial conflicts before these issues tear relationships apart.

Irony and humour keep teenage #gymlads healthy on social media
Teenage boys rely on social media to access a wealth of information about living a healthy lifestyle -- but rather than being victims of online harms, such as an unhealthy body image obsession, the majority are able to use humour, irony and banter to navigate social media content.

Most women use vaginal ring for HIV prevention in open-label study
In an open-label study of women in southern and eastern Africa, a vaginal ring that is inserted once a month and slowly releases an antiviral drug was estimated to reduce the risk of HIV by 39%, according to statistical modeling.

Open-label study of a vaginal ring for HIV prevention suggests women want and will use it
Results of an open-label study of vaginal ring intended to be used for a month at a time found the majority of participants wanted the ring being offered, with measures of adherence also indicating they are willing to use it to protect themselves against HIV.

Not always reaching your potential is okay, but overthinking it is a problem
Having aspirations helps us navigate life in a meaningful and fulfilling way, but it can also cause psychological distress when hopes are left unfulfilled.

Study shows 70% of patients lack advance directives before elective surgery
Only 30% of elective surgery patients in a recent study had Advance Directives documenting their wishes regarding emergency medical care.

Television programming for children reveals systematic gender inequality
Programming children watch on American TV shows systematic gender inequality, according to new research.

Read More: Aspire News and Aspire Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.