Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Louise Wetherbee Phelps
According to the BBC’s 2006 Royal Charter, the BBC situations itself rhetorically within the notions of ‘public value’ and its commitment to, among other things, "d) representing the UK, its nations, regions and communities; e) bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK [...]"(2-3). In order to achieve these goals, the BBC must define that which it represents particularly when dealing with the news. While BBC News claims to be impartial, rhetorically, impartiality is impossible when committing to the pursuit of definition and representation. In defining “Britishness,” BBC News must negotiate Britain’s global position as post-colonial, or neo-colonial, and European, as well as the heterogeneous nature of Britain.
This dissertation will demonstrate a model for exploring the motives of the BBC News’ output using three case studies: a news report on the 2005 London transit bombings; a report on the 2006 Mumbai transit bombings; and a news report related to the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum. The motives of the BBC must be examined, particularly because of the BBC’s unique connection to the British government. Analyzing BBC News productions through the lenses of Stuart Hall’s Encoding and Decoding model, as well as Kenneth Burkes’ Dramatist model, gives scholars the opportunity to analyze the choices made by the BBC. By exploring how these choices fit into a modification of Herman and Chomsky’s Propaganda Model, scholars can gain a greater understanding of the motivations of the BBC’s construction of Britishness from its heterogeneous audiences as well as how the corporation constructs the national good as a public value.
The outcome of the Brexit referendum demonstrates that despite a projection of united Britishness, Britain is a heterogeneous space comprising of a multitude of performances of Britishness. As the United Kingdom undergoes shifts in foreign and intra-national relations, how the BBC reports on related topics will be of importance in performing new versions of Britishness. How the BBC attempts to homogenize Britishness will allow scholars to consider the motives of both the BBC and the desires of the government.
"BBC News: Defining Britishness in the Early Twenty-First Century"
(2017). Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), dissertation, English, Old Dominion University, DOI: 10.25777/x8ea-s841
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