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 decoders.
" 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 interest.
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).
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 BBC's service, and Oracle, the independent television's 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 safeguarded.
At the end of 1991 the ITC advertised three teletext licences - a singlepublic 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