By Paul Rixon
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The worry was less about American programmes dominating British television than about the creation and effects of a commercialised television service. Against the background of the increasing success of lTV, supposed problems of falling ratings at the BBC, the heated debates about lTV's reliance on too many popular programmes and its increased use of American imports, the government set up the Pilkington Committee in 1960 to examine the state of broadcasting. One of the main expected outcomes of the subsequent report would be the allocation of a third channel.
Likewise meaning is not just the result of how a text is read; some form of interaction is occurring between the cultural import and the pre-existing culture. As Morris notes, 'This feedback loop allows newly incorporated elements from external sources eventually to become part of established cultural traditions and thus part of the cultural "deep structure'" (2002: 282). While the way audiences consume, make sense of and respond to programmes, whether indigenous or acquired, has been fairly well researched, the role of broadcasters has been less so (Ellis, 2002: 132-3).
Kildare, a US import, which was the most watched BBC programme (December 1961 and January 1962; Harbord and Wright, 1992: 128-9). Accompanying the rising popularity of lTV and the heightened profile of American programmes on both channels, there was increased public criticism. For some, the problem was inherent in commercial television, it was there to pander to the lowest common denominator, and the use of American programmes was the result of this; for others, there was a worry about certain genre, the crime series and Western, and their depiction of violence.
American Television on British Screens: A Story of Cultural Interaction by Paul Rixon