The Class and television in the UK

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The Committee on Broadcasting of 1960 (also known as the Pilkington Committee) was convened to examine the then current state of television broadcasting, examining both the BBC and ITV. The committee reported in June 1962, and its results were in two contrasting parts: whilst the committee showed general approval of the BBC, the ITV companies were criticised on a number of fronts.


On the other hand, commercial television was to be regulated more firmly (especially in regard to advertising and content) and the game shows that had won ITV high ratings over the last few years were to have their prize monies slashed. The disparity between Pilkington's judgements of the two channels was quite clear.
This disparity was firmly and inextricably interwoven with the class structure of Britain at the time of the report, and television's place in that structure. By 1962 the working class was becoming increasingly affluent, riding the post-war industrial boom and supported by the new welfare provision put in place by Clement Attlee's reforming government of 1945-51. Between 1951 and 1958 real wages rose by 20% (Curran, 204), this growth favouring principally the lower middle classes. This increased prosperity naturally converted into an increase in the number of television sets bought: in 1951 there were 586,000 licences, which grew by nearly twenty-fold to 11,659,000 (Sendall, 1982, 370). This increase was almost certainly driven by the availability of the new ITV. ...
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