London calling: BBC external services, Whitehall and the cold war 1944-57.
The Second World War had radically changed the focus of the BBC's overseas operation from providing an imperial service in English only, to that of a global broadcaster speaking to the world in over forty different languages. The end of that conflict saw the BBC's External Services, as they became known, re-engineered for a world at peace, but it was not long before splits in the international community caused the postwar geopolitical landscape to shift, plunging the world into a cold war. At the British government's insistence a re-calibration of the External Services' broadcasting remit was undertaken, particularly in its broadcasts to Central and Eastern Europe, to adapt its output to this new and emerging world order. Broadcasting was seen at the time as an essential adjunct to Britain's non-shooting war with the Soviet Union and a primary means of engaging with attitudes and opinion behind the Iron Curtain. Funded by government Grant-in-Aid, but with its editorial independence enshrined in the BBC's Charter, Licence and Agreement, this thesis examines, in the context of the cold war, where the balance of power lay in relations between Whitehall and the External Services. In doing so, it traces the evolution of overseas broadcasting from Britain, alongside the political, diplomatic and fiscal challenges facing it, up to the 1956 Hungarian uprising and Suez crisis. These were defining experiences for the United Kingdom's international broadcaster that, as a consequence, helped shape the future the External Services for the rest of the cold war.
- Theses