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British television broadcasting

info for AQA A2 media new and digital media TV case study

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British television broadcasting

  1. 1. British Television Broadcasting – a History of Institutional issues Date Event/Legislation/Issue Consequence(s) 1922 Foundation of The British Broadcasting Company 1927 The British Broadcasting Company becomes state (government) owned and is given a Royal charter, a set of guidelines set by the government that dictates how it should be run and programming should be. Its name changes to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and it is funded by the government. Concept of public Sector Broadcasting (PSB)underpins the BBC – defined as “a serious commitment to programming that… deal(s) with serious issues and which might not necessarily attract large audiences” The charter decreed that the BBCs programming must serve the public and “inform, educate and entertain”. The BBCs first director John Reith believed that the corporation should make programmes that didn’t simply seek to make profit, that broadcasting should serve the whole community and should be highly regulated to make sure programmes were of high quality. The radio (and very early TV) programmes the BBC made reflected this ethos and it has had a lasting influence to this day. 1936 BBC Television broadcasting begins. There is one channel. The first outside broadcast is filmed in 1937. Only the very richest have television sets. Audience for television programmes very small. 1939- 46 BBC television broadcasts suspended during the war – resume in 1946. 1954- 55 The Television Act of 1954 broke the BBC’s monopoly and established the first commercial television service, Independent Television (ITV). ITV started broadcasting in 1955. It received some government money and was given permission to raise the rest of its money through advertising. Although it was allowed to focus on producing programmes that had a broad popular appeal ITV was still answerable to the government and had to prove that its programmes were made in the public rather than commercial interest and were largely made in accordance with the principles of PSB. 1955 – Television viewing exceeds radio listening for the first time. The BBC faces competition for the first time. ITV programmes appeal to more popular tastes, the BBC is forced to react to maintain its share of the audience. 1964 BBC2 is launched, with a strong PSB remit. BBC2 programming very much created with PSB principles in mind, an outlet for serious programmes that might not necessarily attract large audiences.
  2. 2. 1982 Channel Four begins broadcasting. It had been set up by the government as a publicly owned channel with a strict public service remit to provide high quality innovative programming that was “experimental, creative and appeal(ed) to the tastes and interests of a culturally diverse society”. It was also required to commission its programmes from independent production companies, rather than make the in house. Channel Four was distinctive in that it was an institution established by the government with very strong PSB requirements that had to find much of its funding through advertising. Channel Four quickly establishes a reputation for high quality serious and innovative programme making very much along PSB lines. 1986- 1989 Satellite TV broadcasting begins in Britain with two companies offering services British Satellite Broadcasting and Sky, they merge in 1990 to form BSkyB. Sky starts broadcasting from 1989. More competition for terrestrial channels (BBC 1&2, ITV, Channel 4). Satellite channels not regulated and don’t have to adhere to principles of PSB. Able to offer programmes with more popular appeal – poses problems for terrestrial broadcasters, they now have to compete in a much bigger market. 1990 Broadcasting Act 1990 and Peacock Committee. The Peacock committee was asked by the government to look into UK broadcasting, its conclusions were that PSB requirements should be relaxed on ITV (and to a lesser extent on the BBC and Channel Four), ITV should be allowed to pursue more ratings (and therefore profit) driven programming, that TV channels must source at least 25% of their programmes from independent production companies. Pressure was also put on the BBC to act in a more commercial way. Terrestrial TV Channels were put in open competition with each other and the satellite broadcasters, forced to make more programmes that would achieve high ratings. Critics argue that the consequences have been a reduction in quality or innovative programme making and programmes that deal with serious issues throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s. Instead, they argue, viewers have been left with a formulaic approach to programme making. Aroun d 1995 Emergence of the internet. BBC develops large website and starts to becomes a major player in internet news. 1996 Broadcasting Act 1996. It laid down the guidelines for digital broadcasting in the UK (which started in 1998) stating that franchises for companies to broadcast digitally would be provided by the government established body, The Independent Television Commission. The act stated that in order to secure the future of public service broadcasting, any franchise holders would have to provide services offered by the terrestrial channels. Establishes that there will be further competition for terrestrial broadcasters but provides them with some protection and guarantees their presence on digital TV
  3. 3. 1997 Channel Five begins broadcasting, it is privately owned but is regulated by the government and has a number of PSB obligations. Increased competition for terrestrial broadcasters. BBC develops large website and becomes a major player in internet news. 1998 Introduction of multi channel digital TV Increased competition for terrestrial broadcasters. 2002 Introduction of Freeview. BBC3, BBC4, More4, E4 created around this time. Vastly increased the numbers of people who were able to access multi channel television. Has provided competition for terrestrial broadcasters but has also given them new opportunities. Allowed broadcasters to target channels at more specific (niche) audiences. 2003 2003 Communications Act Laid the groundwork for community radio in the UK. Controversially relaxed the rules on major newspaper owners taking a larger share in ITV companies and Channel 5. Potentially opened up parts of the television market (cable and satellite channels, ITV and Channel 5 companies) to ownership by already powerful media organisations. 2006- 2007 Launch of the BBC iPlayer and Channel 4 4OD services, which enable viewers to watch/listen to programmes via the internet. Provides traditional broadcasters with new opportunities. Mid 2000s Introduction of affordable broadband internet connections. Enables video content to be streamed through the internet. Opens up new possibilities for traditional broadcasters, also provides them with competition as potential viewers spend increasing amounts of leisure time using the internet rather than watching TV. 2006- 2007 Launch of the BBC iPlayer and Channel 4 4OD services, which enable viewers to watch/listen to proframmes via the internet. New portable devices (ipod/iphone/other smartphones) emerge. Provides traditional broadcasters with new opportunities. New portable media devices offer new ways for audiences to access content and creates new possibilities for broadcasters. 2009 James Murdoch, head of News Corporation (owners of Sky and The Times) gives a speech at the Edinburgh television festival where he attacks the BBC, saying that it is too big and provides unfair competition for commercial newspapers and broadcasters. He wants to see a vastly scaled down BBC. Critics say that he wants his own company to dominate broadcasting in the UK. BBC put on the defensive. Causes scrutiny of the way BBC operates and opens up a debate on the future of the BBC and public service broadcasting in the UK. 2010 The BBC announces that it will reduce the size of its website dramatically, will cut the digital radio stations BBC 6Music and BBC Asian Network, focus less on the teenage market and will buy fewer imports. It says it will
  4. 4. plough the money saved into commissioning original drama and documentary programming. Critics say BBC is overreacting to Murdoch’s speech of 2009. A public campaign, conducted largely through the internet, saves the digital radio station BBC 6Music. 2015 ?

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