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 BBC1's 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 Corporation's 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 Corporation's 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 BBC's local radio stations.
The domestic services of the BBC are financed principally from the sale of television licences. Households with television must buy an annual licence costing ?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 BBC's 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 arebroadcasts 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