: Mass media in Great Britain



In every modern country, regardless of the form of the government, the
press, radio and television are political weapons of tremendous power,
and few things are so indicative of the nature of a government as the
way in which that power is exercised. While studying the politics of any
country, it is important not only to understand the nature of the
social, economic, political or any other divisions of the population but
also to discover what organs of public and political opinion are
available for the expression of the various interests.

Although the press in this or that country is legally free, the danger
lies in the fact that the majority of people are not aware of the
ownership. The press in fact is controlled by a comparatively small
number of persons. Consequently, when the readers see different
newspapers providing the same news and expressing similar opinions they
are not sure that the news, and the evaluation of the news, are
determined by a single group of people, perhaps even by one person. In
democratic countries it has long been assumed that government ought, in
general, to do what their people want them to do.

The growth of radio and particularly of television is as important in
providing news as the press. They provide powerful means of capturing
public attention. But while private enterprise predominates in the
publishing fields in Great Britain, radio broadcasting monopoly, as was
television until late in 1955. The British Broadcasting Corporation
(BBC), a public organisation, still provides all radio programmes.

Main Part

The Press

National Daily and Sunday Papers

In a democratic country like Great Britain the press, ideally, has three
political functions: information, discussion and representation. It is
supposed to give the voter reliable and complete information to base his
judgement. It should let him know the arguments for and against any
policy, and it should reflect and give voice to the desires of the
people as a whole.

Naturally, there is no censorship in Great Britain, but in 1953 the
Press Council was set up. It is not an official body but it is composed
of the people nominated by journalists, and it receives complaints
against particular newspapers. It may make reports, which criticise
papers, but they have no direct effects. The British press means,
primarily, a group of daily and Sunday newspapers published in London.
They are most important and known as national in the sense of
circulating throughout the British Isles. All the national newspapers
have their central offices in London, but those with big circulations
also print editions in Manchester (the second largest press center in
Britain) and Glasgow in Scotland.

Probably in no other country there are such great differences between
the various national daily newspapers in the type of news they report
and the way they report it.

All the newspapers whether daily or Sunday, totalling about twenty, can
be divided into two groups: quality papers and popular papers. Quality
papers include The Times, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The
Financial Times, The Observer, The Sunday Times and The Sunday
Telegraph. Very thoroughly they report national and international news.

In addition to the daily and Sunday papers, there is an enormous number
of weeklies, some devoted to specialised and professional subjects,
others of more general interest. Three of them are of special importance
and enjoy a large and influential readership. They are: the Spectator
(which is non-party but with Conservative views), the New Statesman (a
radical journal, inclining towards the left wing of the Labour Party)
and the largest and most influential the Economist (politically
independent). These periodicals resemble one another in subject matter
and layout. They contain articles on national and international affairs,
current events, the arts, letters to the Editor, extensive book reviews.
Their publications often exert a great influence on politics.

The distinction between the quality and the popular papers is one
primarily of educational level. Quality papers are those newspapers
which are intended for the well educate. All the rest are generally
called popular newspapers. The most important of them are the News of
the World, The Sun, the Daily Mirror, the Daily Express.

The two archetypal popular papers, the Daily Mail and Daily Express
were both built by individual tycoons in the early 20th century. Both
had a feeling for the taste of a newly-literate public: if a man bites a
dog, thats a news. The Daily Express was built up by a man born in
Canada. He became a great man in the land, a close friend and associate
of Winston Churchill, and a powerful minister in his War Cabinet. The
circulation of The Daily Express at one time exceeded four million
copies a day. Now the first Lord Beaverbrook is dead, and the daily
sales are not much more than half of their highest figure. The history
of the Daily Mail, with its conventional conservatism, is not greatly

The popular newspapers tend to make news sensational. These papers
concentrate on more emotive reporting of stories often featuring the
Royal Family, film and pop stars, and sport.They publish personal
articles which shock and excite. Instead of printing factual news
reports, these papers write them up in an exciting way, easy to read,
playing on peoples emotions. They avoid serious political and social
questions or treat them superficially. Trivial events are treated as the
most interesting and important happenings. Crime is always given far
more space than creative, productive or cultural achievements. Much of
their information concerns the private lives of people who are in the
news. The popular newspapers are very similar to one another in
appearance and general arrangement, with big headlines and the main news
on the front page. This press is much more popular than the quality

In some countries, newspapers are owned by government or by political
parties. This is not the case in Britain. Newspapers here are mostly
owned by individuals or by publishing companies, and the editors of the
papers are usually allowed considerate freedom of expression. This is
not to say that newspapers are without political bias. Papers like The
Daily Telegraph, The Sun, for example, usually reflect Conservative
opinions in their comment and reporting, while the Daily Mirror and The
Guardian have a more left-wing bias. In addition to the 12 national
daily newspapers there are nine national papers which published on
Sundays. The quality Sunday papers devote large sections to literature
and the arts. They have colour supplements and are in many ways more
like magazines than newspapers. They supply quite different world of
taste and interest from the popular papers. Most of the Sundays
contain more reading matter than daily papers, and several of them also
include colour-supplements separate colour magazines which contain
photographically-illustrated feature articles. Reading a Sunday paper,
like having a big Sunday lunch, is an important tradition in many
British households.

Local and Regional Papers

Besides, nearly every area in Britain has one or more local newspapers.


Local morning papers have suffered from the universal penetration of
London-based national press. Less than 20 survive in the whole England,
and their combined circulation is much less than that of The Sun
alone. Among local daily papers those published in the evenings are much
more important. Each of about 70 towns has one, selling only within a
radius of 50 to 100 kilometers. The two London evening papers, the
News and Standard, together sold two million copies in 1980, but
they could not survive, and merged into one, now called The London
Evening Standard with a circulation of 528,700. It covers national and
international news as well as local affairs. Local weeklies include
papers for every district in Greater London, often in the form of local
editions of an individual paper.


Wales has one daily morning newspaper, the Western Mail, published in
Gardiff, with a circulation of 76,200 throughout Wales. In north Wales
the Daily Post, published in Liverpool, gives wide coverage to events
in the area. Wales on Sunday, published in Cardiff, has a circulation
of 53,100. Evening papers published in Wales are the South Wales Echo,
Cardiff; the South Wales Argus, Newport; The South Wales Evening
Post, Swansea;

The weekly press (82 publications) includes English-language papers,
some of which carry articles in Welsh; bilingual papers; and
Welsh-language papers. Welsh community newspapers receive an annual
grant as part of the Governments wider financial support for the Welsh


Scotland has six morning, six evening and four Sunday newspapers. Local
weekly newspapers number 115. The daily morning papers, with
circulations of between 85,900 and 740,000, are The Scotsman; the
Herald; the Daily Record. The daily evening papers have circulations
in the range of 10,400 to 164,330 and are the Evening News of
Edinburgh, Glasgows Evening Times, Dundees Evening Telegraph,
Aberdeens Evening Express, the Greenock Telegraph

The Sunday papers are the Sunday Mail, the Sunday Post , the
Scottish Sunday Express (printed in Manchester) as well as quality
broadsheet paper.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has two morning newspapers, one evening and three
Sunday papers, all published in Belfast with circulations ranging from
20,000 to 170, 567. They are the News Letter, the Sunday News, the
Sunday World. There are bout 45 weekly papers.

Most local daily papers belong to one or other of the bog press empires,
which leave their local editors to decide editorial policy. Mostly they
try to avoid any appearance of regular partisanship, giving equal weight
to each major political party. They give heavy weight to local news and
defend local interests and local industries.

The total circulation of all provincial daily newspapers, morning and
evening together, is around eight million: about half as great as that
of the national papers. In spite of this, some provincial papers are
quite prosperous. They do not need their own foreign correspondents;
they receive massive local advertising, particularly about things for

The truly local papers are weekly. They are not taken very seriously,
being mostly bought for the useful information contained in their
advertisements. But for a foreign visitor wishing to learn something of
the flavour of a local community, the weekly local paper can be useful.
Some of these papers are now given away, not sold out but supported by
the advertising.

The four most famous provincial newspapers are The Scotsman
(Edinburg), the Glasgow herald, the Yorkshire Post (Leeds) and the
Belfast Telegraph, which present national as well as local news. Apart
from these there are many other daily, evening and weekly papers
published in cities and smaller towns. The present local news and are
supported by local advertisements.

The Weekly, Periodical and Daily Press

Good English writing is often to be found in the weekly political and
literary journals, all based in London, all with nationwide circulations
in the tens of thousands. The Economist, founded in 1841, probably has
no equal everywhere. It has a coloured cover and a few photographs
inside, so that it look like Time or Newsweek, but its reports have
more depth and breadth than any these. It covers world affair, and even
its American section is more informative about America than its American
equivalents. Although by no means popular, it is vigorous in its
comments, and deserves the respect in which it is generally held.
Spectator is a weekly journal of opinion. It regularly contains
well-written articles, often politically slanted. It devotes nearly half
its space to literature and the arts.

Glossy weekly or monthly illustrated magazines cater either for women
or for any of a thousand special interests. Almost all are based in
London, with national circulations, and the womens magazines sell
millions of copies. These, along with commercial television, are the
great educators of demand for the new and better goods offered by the
modern consumer society. In any big newsagents shop the long rows of
brightly covered magazines seem to go on for ever; beyond the large
variety of appeals to women and teenage girls come those concerned with
yachting, tennis, model railways, gardening and cars. For every activity
there is a magazine, supported mainly by its advertisers, and from time
to time the police brings a pile of pornographic magazines to local
magistrates, who have the difficult task of deciding whether they are
sufficiently offensive to be banned.

These specialist magazines are not cheap. They live on an infinite
variety of taste, curiosity and interest. Their production, week by week
and month by month, represents a fabulous amount of effort and of felled
trees. Television has not killed the desire to read.

The best-known among the British national weekly newspapers are as

The Times (1785) is called the paper of the Establishment. The Times
has three weekly supplements, all appeared and sold separately. The
Literary Supplement is devoted almost entirely to book reviews, and
covers all kinds of new literature. It makes good use of academic
contributors, and has at last, unlike The Economist, abandoned its old
tradition of anonymous reviews. New Scientist published by the company
which owns the Daily Mirror, has good and serious articles about
scientific research, often written by academics yet useful for the
general reader. This paper is most famous of all British newspapers.
Politically it is independent, but is generally inclined to be
sympathetic to the Conservative Party. It is not a government organ,
though very often its leading articles may be written after private
consultation with people in the Government. It has a reputation for
extreme caution, though it has always been a symbol of solidity in
Britain. Its reporting is noted for reliability and completeness and
especially in foreign affairs. Its reputation for reflecting or even
anticipating government policy gives it an almost official tone.

The popular newspapers are now commonly called tabloids. This word
first used for pharmaceutical substances compressed into pills. The
tabloid newspapers compress the news, and are printed on small sheets of
paper. They use enormous headlines for the leading items of each day,
which are one day political, one day are to do with a crime, one day
sport, one day some odd happening. They have their pages of political
report and comment, short, often over-simplified but vigorously written
and (nowadays) generally responsible. They thrive on sensational stories
and excitement.

The Guardian (until 1959-The Manchester Guardian) has become a
truly national paper rather than one specially connected with
Manchester. In quality, style and reporting it is nearly equal with The
Times. In politics it is described as radical. It was favourable to
the Liberal Party and tends to be rather closer in sympathy to the
Labour party than to the Conservatives. It has made great progress
during the past years, particularly among the intelligent people who
find the Times too uncritical of the Establishment.

The Daily Telegraph (1855) is the quality paper with the largest
circulation (1.2 million compared with The Timess 442 thousand and
The Guardians 500 thousand). In theory it is independent, but in
practice it is such caters for the educated and semi-educated business
and professional classes. Being well produced and edited it is full of
various information and belongs to the same class of journalism as The
Times and The Guardian.

In popular journalism the The Daily Mirror became a serious rival of
the Express and Mail in the 1940s. It was always tabloid, and always
devoted more space to picture than to text. It was also a pioneer with
strip cartoons. After the Second World War it regularly supported the
Labour Party. It soon outdid the Daily Express in size of headlines,
short sentences and exploration of excitement. It also became the
biggest-selling daily newspaper. For many years its sales were about
four million; sometimes well above.

The daily papers have no Sunday editions, but there are Sunday papers,
nearly all of which are national: The Sunday Times (1822, 1.2
million), The Sunday Telegraph (1961, 0.7 million), the Sunday
Express (1918, 2.2 million), The Sunday Mirror (1963, 2.7 million).

On weekdays there are evening papers, all of which serve their own
regions only, and give the latest news. London has two evening
newspapers, The London Standard and The Evening News.

Traditionally the leading humorous periodical in Britain is Punch,
best known for its cartoons and articles, which deserve to be regarded
as typical examples of English humour. It has in recent years devoted
increasing attention to public affairs, often by means of its famous
cartoons. This old British satirical weekly magazine, survives, more
abrasive than in an earlier generation yet finding it hard to keep the
place it once had in a more secure social system. Its attraction,
particularly for one intellectual youth, has been surpassed by a new
rival, Private Eye, founded in 1962 by people who, not long before,
had run a pupils magazine in Shrewsbury School. Its scandalous material
is admirably written on atrocious paper and its circulation rivals that
of The Economist.

Advertising Practice

Advertising in all non-broadcast media such as newspapers, magazines,
posters (and also direct mail, sales promotions, cinema, and management
of lists and databases) is regulated by the Advertising Standards
Authority, an independent body funded by a levy on display advertising
expenditure. The Authority aims to promote and enforce the highest
standards of advertising in the interests of the public through its
supervision of the British Code of Advertising Practise. The basic
principles of the Code are to ensure that advertisements:

Are legal, decent, honest and truthful;

Are prepared with a sense of responsibility to the consumer and society;

Conform to the principles of fair competition as generally accepted in

The Authority includes among its activities monitoring advertisements to
ensure their compliance with the Code and investigating complaints
received directly from members of the public and competitors.

The advertising industry has agreed to abide by the Code and to back it
up with effective sanctions. Free and confidential pre-publication
advice is offered to assist publishers, agencies and advertisers. The
Authoritys main sanction is the recommendation that advertisements
considered to be in breach of the Code should not be published. This is
normally sufficient to ensure that an advertisement is withdrawn or
amended. The Authority also publishes monthly reports on the results of
its investigations, naming the companies involved.

The Authority is recognised by the Office of Fair Trading as being the
established means of controlling non-broadcast advertising. The
Authority can refer misleading advertisements to the Director General of
Fair Trading, who has the power to seek an injunction to prevent their

News Agencies

The principal news agencies in Britain are Reuters, an international
news organisation registered in London, the Press Association and Extel


The oldest is Reuters which was founded in 1851. The agency employs
some 540 journalists and correspondents in seventy countries and has
links with about 120 national or private news agencies. The information
of general news, sports, and economic reports is received in London
every day and is transmitted over a network links and cable and radio

Reuters is a publicly owned company, employing 10,335 full-time staff in
79 countries. It has 1,300 staff journalists and photographers. The
company served subscribers in 132 countries, including financial
institutions; commodities houses; traders in currencies, equities and
bonds; major corporations; government agencies; news agencies;
newspapers; and radio and television stations.

Reuters has developed the worlds most extensive private leased
communications network to transmit its services. It provides the media
with general, political, economic, financial and sports news, news
pictures and graphics, and television news. Services for business
clients comprise constantly updated price information and news,
historical information, facilities for computerised trading, and the
supply of communications and other equipment for the financial dealing
rooms. Information is distributed through video terminals and
tele-printers. Reuters is the major shareholder in Visnews, a television
news agency whose service reaches over 650 broadcasters in 84 countries.

The Press Association

The Press Association - the British and Irish national news agency is
co-operatively owned by the principal daily newspapers of Britain
outside London, and the Irish Republic. It offers national and regional
newspapers and broadcasters a comprehensive range of home news general
and parliamentary news, legal reports, and all types of financial,
commercial and sports news. It also includes in its services to regional
papers the world news from Reuters and Associated Press.

News is sent by satellite from London by the Press Association, certain
items being available in Dataformat as camera ready copy. Its
Newsfile operation provides general news, sports and foreign news on
screen to non-media as well as media clients by means of telephone and
view data terminals. The photographic department offers newspapers and
broadcasters a daily service of pictures. The News Features service
supplies repoerts of local or special interest and grants exclusive
rights to syndicated features. It also offers a dial-in graphics
facility, as well as extensive cuttings and photograph libraries.

Extel Financial

Extel Financial supplies information and services to financial and
business communities throughout the world. Based in London, it has a
network of offices in Europe and the United States and direct
representation in Japan and South-East Asia. Data is collected from all
the worlds major stock exchanges, companies and the international
press. The agency is a major source of reference material on companies
and securities. It supplies a full range of data products on
international financial matters. Up-to-the-minutes business and company
news is bade available by the agencys specialist financial news

Other Agencies

The British press and broadcasting organisations are also catered for by
Associated Press and United Press International, which are British
subsidiaries of United States news agencies. A number of other British,
Commonwealth and foreign agencies and news services have offices in
London, and there are minor agencies in other city. Syndication of
features is not as common in Britain as in some countries, but a few
agencies specialise in this type of work.

New Printing Technology

The heavy production costs of newspapers and periodicals continue to
encourage publishers to look for ways of reducing these costs, often by
using advanced computer system to control editing and production
processes. The Front end or single stroking system, for example,
allows journalists or advertising staff to input copy directly into
video terminal, and then to transform it automatically into computer-set
columns of type. Although it is possible for these columns to be
assembled electronically on a page-sized screen, turned into a full
page, and made automatically into a plate ready for transfer to the
printing press, at present very few such systems are in operation. Most
involve the production of bromides from the computer setting; there are
then pasted up into columns before being places in a plate making

The most advanced system presents opportunities for reorganisation,
which have implications throughout a newspaper office and may give rise
to industrial relations problems. Generally, and most recently in the
case of national newspapers, the introduction of computerised system has
led to substantial reduction in workforces, particularly, but not
solely, among print workers.

All the national newspapers use computer technology, and its use in the
provincial press, which has generally led the way in adopting news
techniques, is widespread. Journalists key articles directly into, and
edit them on, computer terminals; colour pictures and graphics are
entered into the same system electronically. Where printing plants are
at some distance from editorial offices, pages are sent for printing by
fax machine from typesetter to print plant. Other technological
development include the use of full-colour printing, and a switch from
traditional letterpress printing to the web-offset plastic-plate

News International, publisher of the three daily and two Sunday papers,
has at its London Docklands headquarters more than 500 computer
terminals - one of the largest system installed at one time anywhere in
the world. The Financial Times opened a new printing plants in
Dockland in 1988 with about 200 production workers, compared with the
650 employed at its former printing facility in the City of London. The
new Docklands plant of the Associated Newspapers Group uses flexography,
a rudder-plate process. Other national papers have also moved into the
new computer-based printing plants outside Fleet Street.

Radio and Television

British broadcasting has traditionally been based on the principle that
it is a public service accountable to the people through Parliament.
Following 1990 legislation, it is also embracing the principles of
competition and choice. Three public bodies are responsible for
television and radio services throughout

Britain. They are:

the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) broadcasts television and
radio services;

the Independent Television Commission (ITC) licenses and regulates
non-BBC television services, including cable and satellite services,

the Radio Authority licenses and regulates all non-BBC radio services.

Since the 1970s 98% of British households have had television sets able
to receive four channels, two put out by the BBC, two by commercial
companies. Commercial satellite and cable TV began to grow significantly
in 1989 1990, and by 1991 the two main companies operating in Britain
had joined together as British Sky Broadcasting. By 1991 about one
household in ten had the equipment to receive this material.

Every household with TV must by law pay for a license, which costs
about the same for a year as a popular newspaper every day.

Unlike the press, mass broadcasting has been subject to some state
control from its early days. One agreed purpose has been to ensure that
news, comment and discussion should be balanced and impartial, free of
influence by government or advertisers. From 1926 first radio, then TV
as well, were entrusted to the BBC, which still has a board of governors
appointed by the government. The BBCs monopoly was ended in 1954, when
an independent board was appointed by the Home Secretary to give
licenses to broadcast (franchises) to commercial TV companies financed
by advertising, and called in general independent television (ITV).
These franchises have been given only for a few years at a time, then
renewed subject to various conditions.

In 1990 Parliament passed a long and complex new Broadcasting Act which
made big changes in the arrangements for commercial TV and radio. The
old Independent Broadcasting Authority, which had given franchises to
the existing TV and radio companies, was abolished. In its place, for TV
alone, a new Independent Television Commission was set up in 1991, with
the task of awarding future franchises, early in the 1990s, either to
the existing companies or to new rivals which were prepared to pay a
higher price. The Commission also took over responsibility for licensing
cable programme services, including those satellite TV channels which
are carried on cable networks. The new law did not change the status of
the BBC, but it did have the purpose of increasing competition, both
among broadcasters and among producers. It envisaged that a new
commercial TV channel, TV5, would start in the early 1990s.

The general nature of the four TV channels functioning in 1991, seems
likely to continue, with BBC1 and ITV producing a broadly similar
mixture of programmes in competition with each other. ITV has a complex
structure. Its main news is run by one company, Independent Television
News, its early morning TV a.m. by another. There are about a dozen
regional companies which broadcast in their regions for most each day,
with up to ten minutes of advertisements in each hour, between
programmes or as interruptions at intervals of twenty or thirty minutes.
These regional companies produce some programmes of local interest and
some which they sell to other regions, so that for much of each day the
same material is put out all through the country. Some of BBC1s
progarmmes are similarly produced by its regional stations. BBC2 and the
independent Channel 4 (which has its own company) are both used partly
for special interest programmes and for such things as complete operas.


The Corporations board of 12 governors, including the chairman,
vice-chairman and national governors for Scotland, Wales and Northern
Ireland, is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Government. The
board of governors is responsible for all aspects of broadcasting on the
BBC. The governors appoint the Director-General, the Corporations chief
executive officer, who heads the board of management, the body in charge
of the daily running of the services.

The BBC has a strong regional structure. The three English regions
BBC North, BBC Midlands & East and BBC South and the Scottish, Welsh
and Northern Ireland national regions make programmes for their local
audiences as well as contributing to the national network. The National
Broadcasting Councils for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland give
advice on the policy and content of television and radio programmes
intended mainly for reception in their areas. Local radio councils
representatives of the local community advise on the development and
operation of the BBCs local radio stations.


?80 for colour and ?26.50 for black and white. More than two-thirds of
expenditure on domestic services relates of television.

Licence income is supplemented by profits from trading activities, such
as television programme exports, sale of recordings and publications
connected with BBC programmes, hire and sale of educational films, film
library sales, and exhibitions based on programmes. The BBC meets the
cost of its local radio stations. BBC World Service radio is financed by
grand-in-aid from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, while BBC World
Service television is self-funding.

In 1991 the BBC took over from the Home Office responsibility for
administering the television licensing system. Since 1988 annual rises
in the licence see have been linked to the rate of inflation; this is
intended further to improve the BBCs efficiency and encourage it to
continue to develop alternative sources of revenue.

BBC National Radio

The BBC has five national radio channels for listeners in the United
Kingdom. Radio (channel) 1 provides mainly a programme of rock and pop
music. Radio 2 broadcasts lights music and entertainment, comedy as well
as being the principal channel for the coverage of sport. Radio 3
provides mainly classical music as well as drama, poetry and short
stories, documentaries, talks on ancient and modern plays and some
education programmes. Radio 4 is the main speech network providing the
principals news and current affairs service, as well as drama, comedy,
documentaries and panel games. It also carries parliamentary and major
public events. BBC 5 (on medium wave only), which is devoted chiefly to
sport, education and programmes for young people. The BBC has over 30
local radio stations and about 50 commercial independent stations
distributed throughout Britain. To provide high-quality and wide-ranging
programmes that inform, educate and entertain, to provide also greater
choice and competition the government encourages the growth of
additional radio services run on commercial lines.

Besides these domestic programmes, the BBC broadcasts in England and in
over 40 other languages to every part of the world. It is the World
Service of the BBC. Its broadcasts are intended to provide a link of
culture, information and entertainment between the peoples of the United
Kingdom and those in other parts of the world. The main part of the
World Service programme is formed by news bulletins, current affairs,
political commentaries, as well as sports, music, drama, etc. In
general, the BBC World Service reflects British opinion and the British
way of life. The BBC news bulletins and other programmes are
re-broadcasted by the radio services of many countries.

BBC World Service Radio

The BBC World Service broadcasts by radio worldwide, using English and
37 other languages, for 820 hours a week. The main objectives are to
give unbiased news, reflect British opinion and project British life,
culture and developments in science and industry. News bulletins,
current affairs programmes, political commentaries and topical magazine
programmes form the main part of the output. These are supplemented by a
sports service, music, drama and general entertainment. Regular
listeners are estimated to number 120 million.

The languages in which the World Service broadcasts and the length of
time each is on the air are prescribed by the Government. Otherwise the
BBC has full responsibility and is completely independent in determining
the content of news and other programmes.

There are broadcasts by radio for 24 hours a day in English,
supplemented at peak listening times by programmes of special interest
to Africa, East Asia, South Asia, Europe, the Caribbean and the Falkland

BBC World Service news bulletins and other programmes are re-broadcast
by some 45450 radio and cable stations in over 80 countries, which
receive the programmes by satellite. Two World Service departments also
specialise in supplying radio material for re-broadcast. BBC
transcription sells recordings to more than 100 countries, while BBC
Topical Tapes airmails some 250 tapes of original programmes to
subscribers in over 50 countries each week.

BBC English is the most extensive language-teaching venture in the
world. English lessons are broadcasted daily by radio with explanations
in some 30 languages, including English, and re-broadcast by many radio
stations. BBC English television programmes are also shown in more than
90 countries. A range of printed, audio and video material accompanies
these programmes.

Another part of the World Service, BBC Monitoring, listens to and
reports on foreign broadcasts, providing a daily flow of significant
news and comment from overseas to the BBC and the Government. This
information is also sold to the press, private sector companies,
academic staff and public bodies.

BBC Television

The BBC has a powerful television service. It owns two channels: BBC1
and BBC2. Practically all the population of the country lives within the
range of the TV transmission. With the exception of a break during the
Second World War, the BBC has been providing regular television
broadcasts since 1936. All BBC2 programmes and the vast majority of
those on BBC1 are broadcasted on the national network. The aim of the
Government is that at least 25 per cent of programmes on all channels
should be made by independent producers.

The BBC television programmes are designed for people of different
interests. BBC1 presents more programmes of general interest, such as
light entertainment, sport, current affairs, childrens programmes, as
well as news and information. BBC2 provides documentaries, travel
programmes, serious drama, music, programmes on pastimes and
international films.

The BBC does not give publicity to any firm or company except when it
is necessary to provide effective and informative programmes. It must
not broadcast any commercial advertisement or any sponsored programme.
Advertisements are broadcasted only on independent television, but
advertisers can have no influence on programme content or editorial
work. Advertising is usually limited to seven minutes in any one hour of
broadcasting time.

Both the BBC broadcast education programmes for children and students
in schools of all kinds, as well as pre-school children, and for adults
in colleges and other institutions and in their homes. Broadcasts to
schools cover most subjects of the curriculum, while education
programmes for adults cover many fields of learning, vocational training
and recreation.

The Government has no privileged access to radio or television, but
government publicity to support non-political campaigns may be
broadcasted on independent radio and television. Such broadcasts are
paid for on a normal commercial basis. The BBC is not the mouthpiece of
the government. All the major political parties have equal rights to
give political broadcasts. Radio and, particularly, television have
their greatest impact on public affairs at election time. Each of the
principal political parties is granted time on the air roughly in
proportion to the number of its candidates for the Parliament.

Television and radio coverage of political matters, including
elections, is required to be impartial. Extended news programmes cover
all aspects of the major parties campaigns at national level and in the
constituencies. Political parties arrange photo opportunities, during
which candidates are photographed in such places as factories, farms,
building sites, schools and youth centers. They often use these visits
to make points about party policies.

Special election programmes include discussions between politicians
belonging to rival parties. Often a studio audience of members of the
public is able to challenge and question senior politicians. Radio
phone-ins also allow ordinary callers to question, or put their views
to political leaders. Broadcast coverage also includes interviews with
leading figures from all the parties, reports focusing on particular
election issues, and commentaries from political journalists.

Arrangements for the broadcasts are made between the political parties
and the broadcasting authorities, but editorial control of the
broadcasts rests with the parties.

Television and the other channels of mass media are playing an
increasingly important part in bringing contemporary affairs to the
general public.

Radio and television programmes for the week are published in the BBC
periodical, Radio Times. The BBC publishes another weekly periodical,
The Listener, in which a selection of radio and TV talks are printed.

By international standards it could reasonably be claimed that the four
regular channels together provide an above average service, with the
balance giving something to please most tastes and preferences. Some
quiz-shows and soap operas, or long-running sagas, attract large
numbers of viewers and to some extent the BBC competes for success in
this respect. But minority preferences are not overlooked. In Wales
there are Welsh-language programmes for the few who want them. There are
foreign language lessons for the general public, as well as the special
programmes for schools and the Open University. BBC news has always kept
a reputation for objectivity, and the independent news service is of
similar quality.

Television is probably the most important single factor in the
continuous contest for the publics favour between the political
parties. Parties and candidates cannot buy advertising time. At
intervals each channel provides time for each of the three main
political parties for party-political broadcasts, and during an election
campaign a great deal of time is provided for parties election, always
on an equal basis.

Minor parties get time, based partly on the number of their candidates.
In Wales and Scotland the nationalist parties get TV time on the same
basis as the three others. Studios and transmitters must be provided
free of charge. But often a party prefers to film a broadcast outside
the studio at its own expense, for greater impact.

BBC TV Europe broadcasts some of its own programmes by satellite, and
from 1991 BBC TV International began to sell and distribute its World
Service TV news in English and some other languages.

BBC domestic services are financed almost exclusively by the sale of
annual television licenses; World Service radio is financed from a
government grant, while World Service Television is self-funding.
Popular television drama programs produced for the BBC are shown in
America and many other countries around the world.

BBC World Service Television

BBC World Service Television was set up in 1991 to establish a worldwide
television service. The BBC has generated its own funding fir this
operation. The company at present provides three services:

A subscription channel in Europe, based on mixture of BBC1 and BBC2
programmes, news bulletins, and weather and business reports. Viewers
receive the service by cable or direct to their homes, using special

A 24-hour news and information channel which is available throughout
Asia, launched in November 1991. Funded by advertising, the service is
one of the channels offered throughout Asia by the commercial company
STAR TV. The cannel is compiled by the BBC and transmitted by satellite
to the ground station in Hong Kong, where advertising is added by STAR
TV before distribution.

A news and information channel in Africa, launched in April 1992. The
service is available to viewers who have the appropriate satellite
reception equipment and in countries where national broadcasters make
the service part of their regular output.


In addition there are two independent channels: ITV (Independent
Television) and Channel4, which is owned by the IBA (Independent
Broadcasting Authority).

The ITV has 15 programme companies, each serving a different part o the
country. These companies get most of their money from firms who use them
for advertising. The whole of ITV is controlled by the IBA. The magazine
TV Times advertises all ITV programmes; ITV programmes include news,
information, light entertainment and are interrupted at regular
intervals by advertisements. Despite the genuine entertainment that so
many of the good commercials afford, television still succeeds in
crushing its viewers with ads that are too annoying, too often, and just
too much. Very often commercials are infuriating as well as
irresistible. Commercials are the heavy tribute that the viewer must pay
to the sponsor in exchange for often doubtful pleasure. The first
regular commercial ITV programmes began in London in 1955.

ITV Programme Companies

The companies operate on commercial basis, deriving most of their
revenue from the sale of advertising tome. The financial resources,
advertising revenue and programme production of the companies vary
considerably, depending largely on the size of population in the areas
in which they operate. Although newspapers may acquire an interest in
programme companies, there are safeguards to ensure against
concentration of media ownership, thereby protecting the public

Each programme company plans the content of the programmes to be
broadcast in its area. These are produced by the company itself, or by
other programme companies or bought from elsewhere. The five largest
companies two serving London and three serving north-west England, the
Midlands and Yorkshire supply more programmes for brascast elsewhere
on the national network than do the smaller ones.

A common news service is provided 24 hours a day by Independent
Television News (ITN).

ITV Programmes

The first regular ITV programmes began in London in 1955. ITV programmes
are broadcasting 24 hours a day in all parts of the country. About
one-third of the output comprises informative programmes news,
documentaries, and programmes on current affairs, education and
religion. The remainder coversport, comedy, drama, game shows, films,
and a range of other programmes with popular appeal. Over half the
programmes are produced by the programme companies and ITN.

Channel 4 and S4C

Channel 4 forms part of the independent television network and provides
a national TV service throughout Britain, except in Wales, which has a
corresponding service in Welsh.

Channel 4, currently a subsidiary of the ITC, began broadcasting in
1982. It provides a national television service throughout Britain,
except in Wales, which has a corresponding service Sianel Pedwar Cymru
(S4C). It is required to present programmes that are complementary to
those of ITV, appealing tastes and interests not normally catered for by
one original independent service.

Channel 4 must present a suitable proportion of educational programmes
amd encourage innovation and experiment. It commissions programmes from
the ITC companies and independent producers and buys programmes in the
international market. Channel 4 broadcasts for approximately 139 hours a
week, about half of which are devoted to informative programmes. At
present the service, including that in Wales, financed by annual
subscriptions from the ITV programme companies in return for advertising
time in fourth channel programmes broadcast in their own regions.

In Wales programmes on the fourth channel are run and controlled by
S4C. Under the Broadcasting Act 1990 S4C became a broadcaster in its own
right. Its members are appointed by the Government. S4C is required to
see that a significant proportion of programming; in practice 23 hours a
week, is in the Welsh language and that programmes broadcast between
18:30 and 22:00 hours are mainly in welsh. At other times S4C transmits
national Channel 4 programmes.

Under the 1990 Act the distinctive remit of Channel 4 and S4C has been
strengthened and the services are guaranteed by special arrangements to
protect revenue levels. From January 1993:

Channel 4 was to become a public corporation, licensed and regulated by
the ITC, selling its own advertising time and retaining the proceed;

S4C was to be financed by the Government rather than by a levy from ITV.


The BBC and independent television each operate a teletext service,
offering constantly updated information on a variety of subjects,
including news, sport, travel, local weather conditions and
entertainment. The teletext system allows the television signal to carry
additional information which can be selected and displayed as pages of
text and graphics on receivers equipped with the necessary decoders.
Both Ceefax, the BBCs service, and Oracle, the independent televisions
service, have a subtitling facility on certain programmes for people
with hearing difficulties. Both services are available whenever the
transmitters are on the air. Nearly 40 per cent of households in Britain
have teletext sets and over 7 million people turn to the service daily:
more than most daily newspapers. The broadcasting Act 1990 introduces a
new regulatory system for licensing spare capacity within the television
signal. This allows more varied use of spare capacity data transfer,
for instance but the position of teletext on commercial television is

At the end of 1991 the ITC advertised three teletext licences a single
public service licence for teletext on Channels 3 and 4 (andS4C) and two
separate licences for commercial additional services to subscription or
closed user groups.

Broadcasting by Satellite

Direct broadcasting by satellite, by which television pictures are
transmitted directly by satellite into peoples homes, has been
available throughout Britain since 1989. The signals from satellite
broadcasting are receivable using specially designed aerials or dishes
and associated reception equipment.

Several British based satellite television channels have been set up
supply programmes to cable operators on Britain and, in many cases,
throughout Europe.

British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) carries channels devoted to light
entertainment, news, feature films and sport, transmitted from the Astra
and Marcopolo satellites. Each Astra satellite can transmit 16 channels,
simultaneously. Two satellites are operational so far, with more
planned, and provide about 18 channels in England. Other channels
broadcast sport, general entertainment for women, and a service for
children. MTV is a pop video channel. The Marcopolo satellite carries
BskyB broadcasts made under contract to the ITC in the five DBS channels
allocated to Britain under international agreement.

Educational Broadcasting

Both the BBC and independent television broadcast educational programmes
for schools and continuing education programmes for adults. Broadcasts
to schools deal with most subjects of the National Curriculum, while
education programmes for adults cover many fields of learning and
vocational training. Supporting material, in the form of books,
pamphlets, filmstrips, computer software, and audio and video cassettes,
is available to supplement the programmes.

Each year the BBC Open University Production Centre produces around 350
radio and audio programmes and 200 television and video programmes made
specially for students of the Open University. The Centre also produces
educational and training video materials in collaboration with external
agencies such as the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department
for Education.

The ITC has a duty to ensure that schools programmes are presented on
independent television.


Advertisements are broadcast on independent television and radio between
programmes as well as in breaks during programmes. Advertisers are not
allowed directly to influence programme content or editorial control. In
television, food manufacturers and retailers are the largest category of

Advertisements must be clearly distinguishable and separate from
programmes. The time given to them must not be so great as to detract
from the value of the programmes as a medium of information, education
or entertainment. Television advertising is limited to an average of
seven minutes an hour throughout the day and seven a half minutes in the
peak evening viewing period. Advertising is prohibited in religious
services and in broadcasts to schools. Independent televisions teletext
service carries paginated advertisements.

Parliamentary and Political Broadcasting

The proceeding of both Houses of Parliament may be broadcasted on
television and radio, either live, or more usually in recorded and
edited form on news and current affairs programmes.

The proceedings of the House of Commons have been televised since
1989.They are produced by an independent company appointed by the House
of Commons, which makes television pictures available to the BBC, ITN
and other approved broadcasters for use in news and current affairs
programmes. House of Lords proceedings have been televised since 1985.

The BBC and the commercial services provide time on radio and
television for an annual series of party political broadcasts. Party
election broadcasts are arranged following the announcement of general
election. In addition, the Government may make ministerial broadcasts on
radio and television, with opposition parties also being allotted
broadcast time.

COI Overseas Radio and Television Services

The Central Office and Information (COI), which provides publicity
material and other information services on behalf of government
departments and other public agencies, produces radio programmes for
overseas. A wide range of recorded material is sent to radio stations
all over the world. COI television services make available material such
as documentary and magazine programmes for distribution to overseas


TV and Radio

Television viewing is Britain's most popular leisure pastime: 95 per
cent of households have a colour television set and 68 per cent have a
video recorder.

There are four television channels, and five national and over 100 local
radio stations. News laws will allow another national television channel
and as many as three national commercial radio stations. Subscribers to
a privately owned satellite service can receive five more television

A lot of air time is devoted to political, social and economic affairs.
Although politicians often face tough questioning, particularly during
election campaigns, broadcasters are expected to be impartial in their
treatment of political controversies. Some programmes especially radio,
allow members of the public to challenge politicians and other public
figures on major issues.

The Government is not responsible for programming content or the
day-to-day conduct of the business of broadcasting. Broadcasters are
free to air programs with the only limitation on their independence
being the requirement that they not offend good taste.

The Press

The British are one of the biggest newspaper-reading nations in the

There are about 130 daily and Sunday newspapers, over 2,000 weekly
newspapers and some 7,000 periodical publications in Britain. That's
more national and regional daily newspapers for every person in Britain
than in most other developed countries. The major papers, twelve
national morning daily newspapers (5 qualities and 7 populars) and nine
Sunday papers (4 qualities and 5 populars) are available in most parts
of Britain. All the national newspapers use computer technology, and its
use in the provincial press, which has generally led the way in adopting
new techniques, is widespread.

The press in Britain is free to comment on the matters of public
interest, subject to law (including that of libel). By the open
discussions of all types of goings on, it is obvious that there is no
state control or censorship of the press, which caters to a variety of
political views, interests and levels of education. Newspapers are
almost always financially independent of any political party, but their
political leanings are easily discerned.

Mass Media in Great Britain:


Britain 1993, an official handbook.

How Do You Do, Britain? L.S. Baranovsky, D.D. Kozikis, Minsk, SADI
Agency 1997

British Studies M. Pavlotsky St.-Peterburg, 1998

This is Great Britain L. Kolodyazhnaya IRIS PRESS, Moscow, 1999