British radio and cinema
The creative tension
in Cinema and radio in Britain and America, 1920–60
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The British broadcasting service was set up in 1922 with a monopoly and finance from a licence fee following negotiations between the Post Office, which controlled the air waves, and the radio industry, which manufactured the equipment. John Reith, Director-General of the BBC from 1923 to 1938, provided a manifesto for public service broadcasting in his book Broadcast Over Britain, published in 1924. His definition of democracy, however, was freedom of access rather than freedom of choice. The BBC monopoly was challenged directly by the growth of commercial broadcasting. The situation regarding drama in the United Kingdom was completely different from that in the United States. The symbiosis was not between radio and cinema but between radio and theatre. The Second World War became a radio war, leading to a revolution in the nature of radio entertainment.


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