The media play a central role in Britain’s daily life, informing and
educating, questioning and challenging – and of course – entertaining.
In recent years the availability of more radio frequencies, together
with satellite, cable and microwave transmissions, has already made a
greater number of local, national and international services possible.
The transition from analogue to digital transmission technology is now
expanding this capacity enormously. The Internet is providing,
increasingly, an additional medium for information, entertainment and
Television and Radio
Broadcasting in Britain has traditionally been based on the principle
that it is a public service accountable to people. While retaining the
essential public service element, it now also embraces the principles of
competition and choice:
the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), which broadcasts television
and radio programmes;
the ITC (Independent Television Commission), which licenses and
regulates commercial television services, including cable and satellite
the Radio Authority, which licenses and regulates commercial radio
services, including cable and satellite.
The three bodies work to broad requirements and objectives defined and
endorsed by Parliament, but are otherwise independent in their daily
conduct of business.
Television viewing is by far Britain’s most popular leisure pastime:
over 97 per cent of households have at least one TV set. British
television productions are sold world – wide.
The BBC provides two complementary national terrestrial television
networks: BBC 1 and BBC 2, which transmit 24 hours a day. It also
provides a range of digital channels, including BBC News 24 and BBC
Choice. BBC Network Radio serves an audience of 29 each week,
transmitting 24 hours a day on its five national networks. BBC has 39
local radio stations serving England and the Channel Islands, and
regional and community radio services in Scotland, Wales and Northern
Ireland. BBC World Service broadcasts by radio in English and 42 other
languages world – wide. It has a global weekly audience of at least 140
million listeners. BBC Worldwide Television is responsible for the BBC’s
commercial television activity. It is one of Europe’s largest exporters
of television programmes. It also runs an advertiser – funded, 24 – hour
international news and information channel; and an entertainment and
drama channel broadcast to subscribers in continental Europe and Africa.
The BBC’s domestic services are financed predominantly from the sale of
annual television licences; there are no paid advertisements. BBC World
Service radio is funded by a government grant, while BBC Worldwide
Television is self – financing.
The ITC licenses and regulates three commercial television
services – Channel 3 and Channel 4 (in Wales the corresponding service
is S4C), which complement each other, and Channel 5 – all financed by
advertising and sponsorship. Channel 3 programmes are supplied by 15
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