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Mass Media in England

Mass Media in England

The media play a central role in Britains 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

communication.

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 Britains most popular leisure

pastime: over 97 per cent of households have at least one TV set.

British television productions are sold world wide.

BBC

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

BBCs commercial television activity. It is one of Europes 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 BBCs 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,

childrens 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

channels.

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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