British media: the press, radio and television icon

British media: the press, radio and television




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BRITISH MEDIA: THE PRESS, RADIO AND TELEVISION

Britain's first newspapers appeared over 300 years ago. Now, as then, news­papers receive do government support, unlike in some other European coun­tries today. Advertising has always been a vital source of income. As long ago as 1660 King Charles II advertised in a newspaper for his lost dog. Today income from advertising is as big as income from sales. In 1995, for example. S 5.465 million was spent on press advertising, making the press by far the largest advertising medium in Britain.

There are approximately 130 daily and Sunday papers. 1.400 weekly papers and over 6.500 periodical publications. More newspapers are sold in Britain than in almost any other country. On average, two out of three people over the age of 15 read a national morning newspaper. National newspapers have a circulation of about 13 million on weekdays and 17 million on Sundays, but (he readership is twice this figure. The national newspapers, both on week­days and on Sundays, fall into two broad categories: the 'popular' and 'quality' press.

Ownership of the press is in the hands of few large publishing groups. The most significant of these are News International, owned by the Australian-born press tycoon Rupert Murdoch, and the Mirror Groups. Private ownership affect the political viewpoint of most newspaper. Most owners are more sympathetic to a right or centre political viewpoint.

^ Radio and Television

In 1936 the government established the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) lo provide a public service in radio. It also began broadcasting that year on (he recently invented television. At first solely through its agency, television and radio changed the entertainment habits and the culture of the nation. In 1955, however, the establishment of independent and commercial television and radio removed the BBC's broadcasting monopoly.

Commercial radio offers three nationwide services: Classic FM. which broadcasts mainly classical music. Virgin 1215, broadcasting popular mu­sic; and Talk Radio UK, a speech-based service In addition there arc 180 independent local radio stations which provide news, information, music and other entertainment, coverage of local events, sports commentary, chat shows and 'phone-in' programmes. They provide an important counselling service to isolated, aggrieved or perplexed people.

Television is the single most popular form of entertainment in Britain. In (he mid-1990s viewers spent on average over three and a half hours daily in front of the television set. Satellite broadcasting has been available since 1989. The major provider of satellite programmes is BskyB. Cable television was introduced in 1993 and currently has 1.3 million subscrib­ers.

The strength of British television lies in its high quality. 'Go anywhere in the world," one leading political journalist has written, 'and British televi­sion is an object of envy and admiration... . The foundation of Britain's excellence in the Held of television is the tradition of public service broad­casting as upheld by the BBC Many involved in television, including for­eigner living in Britain, claim that British television is the best in the world. Its export record and high audience ratings certainly suggest it is among the best. The reason lies in the quality of its innovation and its will­ingness to experiment. In the fields of documentary, comedy and satire, or drama. British television is a world leader.


Chapter analysis and discussion

  1. Is the British press predominantly left or right of centre on the politi­cal scale? Do you think (his balance truly reflects the balance of po­litical views among the British people?

  2. Do you agree or disagree with the following statements?




  1. The BBC World Service broadcasts the views of the British gov­ernment.

  2. The media in Britain has lo defend us independence in the face of pressure from the government.

  1. Make predictions about the future. Do you think that:




  1. newspaper readership in Britain will increase or continue to de­cline?

  2. British television will maintain its world reputation for excellence?

  3. The British media will become more or less subject lo government

  1. Make comparisons between the British media and the media in your country

a)) Which newspapers arc comparable to the main British tabloids and broadsheets?

  1. To what extent are newspapers, radio and television funded by advertising?

  2. Are there any limits to press freedom?



Work in groups оf three or four and talk about the media

in our country. Answer the questions below.

  1. Do people read mostly regional or national newspapers?

  2. Do most people read a newspaper every day?

  3. What are main newspapers?

  4. Which newspaper has the largest circulation?

  5. How many television channels arc there in your town?

  6. How much television do people watch every day?

  1. What are the most popular types of programmes?
    §. Is satellite television very popular?




  1. How many radio channels arc there in your town?

  2. Is radio more or less popular than television?

  3. What sort of programmes arc there on the radio?

  4. Does the government control the media?



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