Once again this chapter will chart the history of a technology of culture—in this case, that of broadcasting—to see how a means of cultural production was developed and exploited as an intervention in the sphere of the social. The primary focus will be an exploration of the social, political and cultural implications of the realisation of broadcasting in terms of its internalisation of a ‘mass’ audience. On the one hand, it will put forward the argument that the regulation of this internalisation was fundamental to the development of the forms of asymmetry between cultural and social reproduction which came to characterise broadcasting. On the other hand, it will also suggest that the forms of autonomy which characterise broadcasting derive, in part at least, from the cultural realisation of the technical possibility of universality of reception. A second, related, focus will be the extent and nature of access to communication actually made possible by broadcasting as the primary means of cultural reproduction in the mid-twentieth century.
The last decades of the nineteenth century and the first two of the twentieth century saw the emergence of a series of related technologies of communication. The principal incentives to their development came from problems of information exchange and control in expanding commercial and military operations. So, for example, telegraphy and telephony and, in its early stages, radio, were developed within a communications network which was serving the needs of the established and growing military and commercial complex. These technologies were thus initially developed for, and organised around, the communication uses of specific person to specific person within established structures.