Competition and public service broadcasting: stimulating creativity or servicing capital?

Simon Turner*, Ana Lourenço

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


In UK public service broadcasting, recent regulatory change has increased the role of the private sector in television production, culminating in the British Broadcasting Corporation's (BBC) introduction of 'creative competition' between in-house and independent television producers. Using the concept of 'cognitive variety', we focus on the increasing role of the independent sector as a source of creativity in the delivery of programming for the BBC. The paper shows that the intended benefit of introducing new competencies has been thwarted by, at the micro-level, a high level of cognitive proximity between in-house and external producers and, at the meso-level, a conflict in values between the BBC and the independent sector, with many of the larger producers responding to a commercial imperative that encourages creativity in profitable genres, but leaves gaps in other areas of provision. Tracing these meso-level institutional effects has implications for micro-level analyses of innovation, notably communities of practice theory.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbermwr022
Pages (from-to)497-523
Number of pages27
JournalSocio-Economic Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


  • Governance
  • Innovation
  • Organizational theory
  • Public sector reforms
  • Social networks
  • United Kingdom


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