What were the strengths and limitations of the BBC during the period 1922-1939?

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What were the strengths and limitations of the BBC during the period 1922-1939?

   The BBC, one of the largest and most effective broadcasting corporations in the present world, has proved a powerful force in the 20th century, providing education, entertainment and information, and fascinating millions of listeners and viewers at home and abroad. However, the establishment and early growth of every novelty is never smooth, neither is the BBC. From 1922, the time that the BBC was originally formed, to the end of the 1930s, the BBC had gone through many changes and struggle, In the following of this paper, I am going to show those changes and the strengths and limitations of the BBC during the period between its emergence and the late 1930s, in terms of the organisation of the BBC (internal) and the contemporary political and social environment (external).  

Strengths and limitations ‘inside’ the BBC

   First of all, I will introduce a little background of why and how the BBC was accepted and established. According to Seaton, the First World War stimulated the development of ‘wireless telegraphy’ which was widely used merely for military purpose. With the beginnings of the ‘wireless’ (the older name for radio) in the early 1920s, many of manufacturers had individually sought broadcasting permits from the Post Office, at that time the government overseeing public communications, and several were licensed on a temporary and local basis. They wished to broadcast in order to stimulate the sale of their wireless receivers, but the Post Office, fearing the technical problem that the lack of air waves, finally solved the problems of radio interference by persuading rival manufacturers to invest jointly in one small and initially speculative broadcasting station. The British Broadcasting Company was therefore formed, as a good solution to that problem. (2003:109-110)

   The BBC was called ‘the British Broadcasting Company’ initially when it was established in 18 October 1922. John Reith, a 33-year-old Scottish, who had been an engineer, was appointed the General Manager of the company. His vision not only shaped the future of the BBC, but of radio broadcasters throughout the world. On the other hand, according to the massive domination of Reith, The BBC in its early days was wholly charged and managed by him and thus Reith’s personality and his thoughts directly affected the traditions and development of the BBC, on both positive and negative aspect.

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    The company had a commercial mission at the beginning, which was to sell radio sets. However, According to Liberal Historian, A.J.P. Taylor, Reith turned it into a crusade. He described that Reith used ‘the brute force of monopoly to stamp Christian morality on the British people’.  “He was to exhort his staff to dedicate themselves to ‘humility in the service of higher pursuits. The desire for notoriety and recognition’, he warned, ‘sterilizes the seeds from which greatness might spring.’ This ability to impose his will on staff was helped by his size. Churchill nicknamed him ‘Wuthering Heights’ and ...

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