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Community Media: Theory & Practice, Vol. 5 - 1998, No. 2

BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback Phone-in: Public Feedback in a Divided Public Space

, pages: 7-19

This article is based upon extensive research of the BBC Radio Ulster daily phone-in programme, Talkback. The wider research is investigating the role of phone-in programmes as a contemporary public sphere for democratic debate. This article places the Talkback phone- ins within the specific context of a contested society within which two “publics” seek to assert their separate identities. The relationship between on-air public talk and official political talks is considered. The socio-political functions of phone-in talk are considered empirically (within the confines of limited space) and it is argued theoretically that talk on Talkback is addressed to one of three publics: ones own public; the divided public; and the imagined consensual public (which is addressed mainly by the BBC.)

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