The British Government: The British Media
The British Government: A Brief Overview
Information courtesy of The British Information Services
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 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.
The industry is self regulating, having set up a Press Complaints Commission
in 1991 to handle public complaints. The Commission was established at the
suggestion of a government-appointed committee to promote more effective
press self-regulation and to prevent intrusion into privacy.
British broadcasting has traditionally been based on the principle that
it's 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
throughout Britain. They are:
1. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) broadcasts television
Television viewing is Britain's most popular leisure pastime: 95 per cent
of households have a color television set and 68 per cent have a video recorder.
2. The Independent Television Commission (ITC) licenses and regulates non-BBC
television services, including cable and satellite
3. The Radio Authority licenses and regulates all non-BBC radio.
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 BBC operates two complementary national television channels and five
national radio services. It also has 39 local radio stations, and regional
radio services in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. BBC World Service
Radio transmits in English and 37 other languages worldwide. Regular listeners
are estimated to number 120 million. BBC World Service Television, set up
in 1992, provides three services: a subscription channel in Europe; a 24-hour
news and information channel available throughout Asia; and a news and information
channel in Africa. Both BBC overseas services have complete editorial independence.
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.
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