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The BBC's Irish troublesTelevision, conflict and Northern Ireland$
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Robert Savage

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780719087332

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719087332.001.0001

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Margaret Thatcher, the IRA and the ‘oxygen of publicity’

Margaret Thatcher, the IRA and the ‘oxygen of publicity’

(p.201) 5 Margaret Thatcher, the IRA and the ‘oxygen of publicity’
The BBC's Irish troubles

Robert J. Savage

Manchester University Press

This chapter looks at the very difficult relationship between Margaret Thatcher and the BBC from 1979 to the introduction of the broadcasting ban in 1988. It addresses how the assassination of Airey Neave and Lord Louis Mountbatten influenced coverage of Northern Ireland from the very start of this period through the 1980s. Interviews with the INLA and un-transmitted BBC film of an IRA unit in County Tyrone caused tremendous controversy. The chapter considers the 1981 Hunger Strikes and the controversy that developed due to coverage that was afforded by television news and current affairs programming. The BBC continued to offer critical and informative news and current affairs programming about the Northern Ireland conflict provoking the Thatcher Government to begin appointing its supporters to the BBC Board of Governors. The government decided to introduce formal censorship after a series of controversial programmes and news reports were featured on television. The chapter concludes with the decision to introduce the broadcasting ban in 1988.

Keywords:   Lord Louis Mountbatten, Airey Neave, INLA, IRA, Hunger Strike, Bobby Sands, Censorship, Prevention of Terrorism Act, Board of Governors, Broadcasting Ban

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