Robert Savage, Boston College: '"The Troubles" the BBC and the politics of censorship 1969-1974'

The Huston School of Film

Date & Time
6th March, 2013 @ 13:00:00

'"The Troubles" the BBC and the politics of censorship 1969-1974'

Robert Savage is a member of the Boston College Department of History. He has written widely on contemporary Irish history including the origins and evolution of television in the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland. The American Conference for Irish Studies awarded him the 2010 James S. Donnelly, Sr. Prize for Best Book in History and Social Sciences for his most recent book A loss on innocence? Television and Irish Society 1960-1972. He is currently a Fellow at the More Institute. His research has been supported by grants and visiting fellowships from the Long Room Hub at Trinity College, Dublin, the University of Edinburgh, the Leverhulme Trust of Great Britain and the Centre for Irish Studies at NUIG. He served as a director of the Irish Studies program at Boston College from 1995-2010.

Throughout ‘the Troubles’ government-imposed censorship, accompanying self-censorship practiced by anxious broadcasters, raised critical questions about the freedom of the press and threats to basic civil rights. Throughout the conflict both British and Irish governments resolved to influence if not control how the media presented years of political turmoil and unrest. However, the omnipresence of television compromised their efforts to present an uncomplicated picture — i.e. of the forces of law and order struggling to defeat savage terrorists bent on a campaign of murder and mayhem. This paper will address the efforts of British governments to shape reporting of the conflict in the early years of unrest in Northern Ireland.