The Politics of Public Broadcasting in Britain and Japan The BBC and NHK Compared
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The BBC and NHK have dominated their national media systems since the 1920s and still play a central role in shaping political, social and cultural life. Both are highly trusted news organizations, and vitally influence national identity. Yet despite remarkably similar organizational and funding structures, they differ in their editorial autonomy, relationship to the state, and in the social and cultural roles they play. While the BBC, proud of its independence, acts as a watchdog on the powerful, NHK prefers a guide dog role cooperating with rather than confronting political elites. The BBC is also more willing to challenge prevailing social norms, often serving as an agent of social change. NHK prefers to avoid controversy, serving as an agent of social stability.
The book argues that these differences were shaped by decades of conflict and cooperation between broadcasters, governments, commercial media, interest groups and audiences. The broadcasters adopted distinctive editorial strategies to retain public support and elite approval in the face of technological upheaval, hostility from commercial rivals, and continuous political interference. Both, however, continue to uphold the belief that democratic and social goals are better served by public rather than commercial media.
1. Introducing NHK and the BBC 2. Same Rules, Same Remits 3. Different Roles 4. Chaos of the Ether (Radio 1920s–1940s) 5. NHK Remade (1945–1952) 6. Sex and Violence (Television 1950s–1970s) 7. Video Didn’t Kill the Radio Star (Satellite TV 1980s–1990s) 8. Moving Online (Internet 2000s) 9. Battles for the BBC (2000–2021) 10. NHK and Politics 2000–2021: Abe, Memory, and Nostalgia 11. NHK and the Comfort Women 12. Not Dead Yet! The Future of Public Service Media
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