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Broadcasting in the UK and US in the 1950s. Historical Perspectives.

Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016, 231 p., £48.

In an age of digital communications, where radio, satellite, television and computing have come together to allow instant access to information and entertainment from around the globe, it is sometimes easy to overstate the break with the recent past that these developments imply. However, from a historical perspective, it is important to recognise that the national dimensions of communications, including broadcasting, have always been framed within different sets of international political, economic, cultural, and technological relationships. Television, so easily seen as the last technology to succumb to the effects of internationalisation subsequent to the technical and political changes of the late twentieth century, was in fact, from the outset, embedded in international interactions. In recent years, a focus has been placed on the longstanding sets of transnational relationships in place in the years after World War II, when television established itself as the dominant form of mass communication in Europe and America. Recent research has adopted a comparative approach to television history, which has examined the interactions within Europe and between Europe and America from the 1950s onwards. In addition, there has been increasing interest in the idea of television in the Anglophone world, looking at transatlantic interactions from the early phases of the development of the technology, through the growing market for formats in the 1950s and outwards, to connections with Australia and Hong Kong in these years. The essays in this collection contribute to this area by bringing together, in one volume, work which focuses on both national developments in UK and US broadcasting in the 1950s, to allow for reflection on how those systems were developing and being understood within those societies, and raise issues about the ways in which the two systems interacted and can be usefully compared. Some contributions deliberately focus on international issues, while others embed the international dimension within them, and still others offer a critical commentary on developments during the 1950s.

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