chapter
4 Pages

Chapter Summary

Network Nations is organized into three parts, each comprising three chapters, chronologically organized and defined by distinct stages in the US/ British relationship. Though the beginning chapters are broken into sections that consider each nation’s historical trajectory separately, as the story progresses the experience of the two nations becomes more interlinked. Part 1 begins during the period of amateur experimentation before and during WWI, and examines the inception of broadcasting as an institution, a social practice, and a cultural forum in both Britain and the United States, looking particularly at the places where their mutual influence is particularly marked. This focus reveals long-standing lacunae in the historiography of both British and American broadcasting: on the American side, matters having to do with the non-profit sector, especially universities, educational groups, foundations, and the federal government; on the British side it reveals the commercial aspects of broadcasting such as the negotiations that founded the early Company, its relationship with adjacent industries like the press, the BBC’s magazine publishing operations, and off-shore radio. The BBC’s determination to resist “American chaos” spurred the growth of its national network, far ahead of such developments in the United States, and paved the way for the transition from private company to public corporation in 1926. Though the first American network formed in that same year, by the mid-1930s the major chains had all but lost control over the programming sent out over their airwaves, as sponsors and advertising agencies took over the reins of production and formed an alliance with Hollywood.