BBC Four as “A Place to Think”: Issues of Quality, Cultural Value and Television Archive in the Digital, Multiplatform Age

Goblot, Jovanka Vana. 2013. BBC Four as “A Place to Think”: Issues of Quality, Cultural Value and Television Archive in the Digital, Multiplatform Age. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (BBC Four as “A Place to Think”)
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Abstract or Description

Public service broadcasting, central to British cultural life, is facing ongoing uncertainties brought about by digitisation, media convergence and broader political, social and economic shifts. By focusing on BBC Four, BBC’s digital channel for arts, culture and ideas, this thesis examines how these transformations affect the institution’s quality provision and cultural value. The central argument of the thesis is that the BBC’s approach to cultural value has discursively and structurally changed in response to wider economic and ideological shifts.

The research takes a qualitative case study approach, which encompasses historical, discursive and textual analyses as well as interviews with the key BBC Four staff. It is divided into two sections. The first part of the research is based on the secondary literature and offers broad scholarly accounts about how the concept of culture has so far been approached, and addresses the lack of sustained academic debates about television’s cultural value. It further situates the analysis of BBC Four within historical institutional and policy debates over the purpose and role of public service broadcasting, its quality and cultural standards. As the object of study is a contemporary phenomenon, the second section is empirical, largely based on interviews, and pays attention to the channel’s organisation and texts. The quality of BBC Four’s provision, the thesis argues, is articulated through an “internal cultural geography”, a phrase coined to situate the channel relationally within multiple and complex institutional contexts, including the BBC’s shift to multichannel, digital platforms; the formation of the BBC television portfolio; the branding and marketing of its channel identity; and the channel’s prominent curatorial role within the BBC’s digitisation of the television archive. The thesis concludes that the cultural value of BBC Four is conveyed relationally, with the channel being defined as a place where cultural programmes can be found.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


television; cultural value; BBC4; public service broadcasting; television archive; quality TV; digitisation; multiplatform

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

27 Jun 2014 08:41

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:59


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