BBC audio drama: the last post for a 20th century art in the 21st century?

Crook, Tim. 2014. BBC audio drama: the last post for a 20th century art in the 21st century? Australian Journalism Review, 36(2), pp. 51-62. ISSN 0810 2686 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

BBC radio drama has been restyled and re-branded as “audio drama” in a 21st century of new broadcasting platforms. These have been “rewired” by the internet, and exponentially and asymmetrically redistributed by digital platforms vectored via refined forms of radio and cable transmission. But the political-economic model of funding and institutional underpinning has not changed since the model of public corporation with licence fee taxation was established in 1927. The cultural relationship of audio drama to its media cousins of film and television has been subsumed under the umbrella of a visual paradigm of broadcasting in terms of funding, new writing policy and global identity. The separate radio licence for mains-powered radio sets was abolished in 1971. BBC radio plays are always free to listen to in any medium, but the cost of production is collected from television consumers. This paper investigates how the BBC has managed to sustain and maintain an output which has risen from 650 hours commissioned in 2010 to 750 hours in 2014, despite a relatively catastrophic retreat in production and broadcasting of the form in private and public markets throughout the rest of the world. Why has it endured in the United Kingdom, with 7 million listeners still tuning into radio transmissions each week? What determines its cultural survival and continued creative innovation and evolution?

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


December 2014Published

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Date Deposited:

23 Feb 2015 08:05

Last Modified:

27 Jun 2017 13:51

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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