Mass Media in England

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 services.
             . 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.

                           Independent Television
              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
    regionally based licensees  and  an  additional  licensee  providing  a
    national breakfast – time service. Licences for Channel  3  and  5  are
    awarded for a ten – year period by competitive tender  to  the  highest
    bidder who has passed a quality threshold.

                              Independent Radio
              Independent radio programme companies operate  under  licence
    to the Radio Authority and are financed mainly by advertising  revenue.
    There are three independent national services: Classic FM, broadcasting
    mainly classical music; Virgin 1215, playing broad – based rock  music;
    and Talk Radio UK, speech – based service. About 200 independent  local
    radio services are also in operation. Stations supply  local  news  and
    information,  sport,  music  and  other  entertainment,  education  and
    consumer advice.

                   Teletext, Cable and Satellite Services
              The BBC and independent television  both  operate  a  Teletext
    service, under which information is displayed as “pages”  of  text  and
    graphics on receivers equipped with the necessary decoders.
              Cable services are delivered through underground  cables  and
    are paid for subscription. Cable franchises have been granted  covering
    areas comprising 83 per cent of all homes and nearly all urban areas in
    Britain. In mid – 1999 there were about  12.1  million  homes  able  to
    receive  such  services,  and  3  million  subscribing  homes.  Digital
    technology is being introduced which will support up to 500  television
    channels. Cable also has the capacity for computer – based  interactive
    services, such as home shopping and email.
               Many British – based satellite television channels have been
    set up to  supply  programmes  to  cable  operators  and  viewers  with
    satellite  dishes.  Some  offer  general  entertainment,  while  others
    concentrate on specific  areas  of  interest,  such  as  sport,  music,
    children’s  programmes  and  feature  films.  The   largest   satellite
    programmer is BSkyB (British Sky Broadcasting)  which,  with  around  7
    million subscribers, dominates paid – for  television  in  Britain.  It
    launched its digital satellite service in 1998, carrying more than  140
                Satellite television and cable services are  funded  mainly
    by subscription income.

                                  The Press
          National newspapers have an average total circulation of over  13
    million on weekdays and about 14 million on Sundays, although the total
    readership is considerably greater. There are 10 national morning daily
    papers and 10 national Sundays – five “qualities”, two “mid  –  market”
    and  three  “populars”.  There  are  about  1,350  regional  and  local
    newspapers, and over 7,000 periodical publications.
          There is no state control or  censorship  of  the  newspaper  and
    periodical  press,  which  caters  for  a  range  of  political  views,
    interests and level of education. Where they express  pronounced  views
    and show obvious political leanings in their editorial comments,  these
    may derive from proprietorial and other non – party influences.
          A  non  –  statutory  Press  Complaints  Commission  deals   with
    complaints by members of the public about the content  and  conduct  of
    newspapers and magazines, and advises editors and journalists. In 1995,
    the Government rejected proposals for statutory regulation of the press
    and for legislation to give protection to privacy. Instead, it endorsed
    self – regulation under the Commission and recommended tougher measures
    to make self – regulation more effective.
          Working practices throughout the newspaper industry  have  become
    more efficient with the widespread used of advanced  computer  –  based
    technology. Publishers have been able to  reduce  production  costs  by
    using computer systems for editing and production processes.


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