Thomas Hajkowski
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This Is Northern Ireland
Regional broadcasting and identity in “Ulster”
in The BBC and national identity in Britain, 1922–53
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This chapter focuses on the BBC in Northern Ireland. Broadcasting in Northern Ireland was quite distinct from broadcasting in Scotland or Wales. The sectarian divide between Catholic and Protestant inevitably dominated BBC policy in Northern Ireland. Yet, despite the neutrality with which Northern Irish broadcasters sought to conduct themselves, the BBC in Northern Ireland strove to forge an ‘Ulster’ identity for the region. ‘Ulster’ represented an organic, primeval community, based on geography and history. Although the whole purpose of ‘Ulster’ identity was to represent the differences between Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State in a way that minimized the role of religion, it was, de facto, a Protestant identity. In addition to this state-building function, the BBC in Northern Ireland represented a vital link to the rest of the Britain. Small and peripheral, Northern Ireland needed the BBC to reaffirm its Britishness as well as its regional identity. Indeed, the BBC itself became one of those institutions through which the Northern Irish Protestants could recognize their British national identity.

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