The Press, Radio and Television
Today I want to tell you something about "Mass Media" in Great Britain.
There are three types of Mass Media: Radio, Television and the Press .
First I want to start with Radio and Television.
In Britain there are two broadcasting authorities in charge of radio and TV, the BBC and the IBA.
The BBC was founded in 1922 and is directed by a Board of Governors by the Government.
The British established this commission because they realised that radio and television are very important media for the "spread of information" and that this contains the danger of misuse.
The BBC has certain obligations and restrictions which should prevent to use media for the best advantage for the people as a whole:
It must be politically neutral
and must be commercially independent
That means, it is not allowed to broadcast commercials.
The British Broadcasting Corporation runs 4 national radio stations (Radio 1 to 4), two national TV networks (BBC 1 and BBC 2) and a number of local radio stations.
On BBC 1, the main television channel of the BBC, you can find more programmes of general interest, like light entertainment, sports, news and current affairs.
BBC 2 transmits more specialized programmes like documentaries, serious plays and international films.
Because programmes are not financed by advertising, BBC gets its money from licence fees, sales of programmes, recordings and publications.
These reporting and documentary presentations are known as "high-standard-productions" worldwide.
The second broadcasting authority is the IBA (Independent Broadcasting Authority).
The IBA was appointed by the Home Secretary and set up to coordinate independent television and radio stations.
The IBA controls ITV (Independent Television) and owns Channel 4 and 5, which are financed by commercial advertising.
ITV broadcasts a great variety of subject matters like: news, information, current affairs and light entertainment.
It is also famous for its soap operas like "Crossroads" and "Coronation Street".
Apart from the commercial breaks the content is very much like that of the BBC.
ITV programmes must also
show impartiality in controversial matters
be accurate in its news coverage
observe certain standards with regard violence
and stay within the bounds of good taste.
There are two IBA controlled TV Channels called "Channel 4" and "Channel 5".
Channel 4 presents a more specialized range of programmes that are of interest to minority groups such as detailed news reports, documentaries and educational programmes.
Of course the British have even more than just these channels. They also receive programmes by cable and satellite, programmes like "Sky Channel".
The next topic is the British Press.
The special about British newspapers is the fact, that more national and regional newspapers are sold per hand than in any other Western country.
This shows the important role of the press in forming public and political opinion there.
Most British read two different types of newspapers to get a complete information, they read a National and a Regional paper.
The regional or local press is very important for the Scottish and the Welsh because of their strong national identity, but these papers have not a large circulation and only local influence.
The British press is considered to be an instrument for controlling and criticizing government.
It's unrestricted by censorship or state control and is sometimes called "The Fourth Estate" because it has considerable influence in public affairs.
"Fourth Estate" means that the press is an addition to Legislative, Executive and Judicative.
But journalists must not overstep certain limits:
- The reader must be informed fairly (factual information and commenting must not be mixed up)
- Articles must be free from libel
- Matters which fall under the "Official Secrets Act" must not be reported
In 1953 the "Press Council" was set up.
The aims of this commission are:
- to defend the freedom of the press
- to maintain certain professional standards
- and to deal with complains against newspapers
The Press in Britain can be divided into: Daily-, Sunday-, Quality- and popular papers. [Overhead].
I left out the Regional Papers, because I think they are not so important.
The Quality Papers provide national and international news objectively reported and they cover a great variety of topics of general interest often with background information.
These articles are mostly written by experts on the subject in a formal style and should attack the educated reader.
"The Times" and "The Guardian" are for example "Quality" papers.
The Popular Papers provide sensational news so called "human interest" stories and scandals.
These papers are of lower standards, use everyday English, and the reading public comes from the middle and working class.
The style is more emotional and they use big headlines and colour pictures to attract the reader.
Popular Papers are mostly printed in a special format called tabloid.
It's a more handy size compared with the regular broadsheet.
"The Sun" and "The Daily Mirror" are such popular papers.
The Sunday papers of the Quality and Popular Papers are very thick issues with lots of information and advertising.
"The Observer" and the "News of the World" are such Sunday Papers.
It is important to mention that the striking difference between the "quality" and the "sensational" press reflects the gab between Britain's social classes.
There is also a last group of print media called Periodicals and Weekly.
They are published regularly every week or month.
The old-established weeklies, The Economist, The New Statesman, and The Spectator are respected for their quality of authorship.
In spite of the high circulations figures, about 15 million a day, and advertising the newspaper industry does not make great profits; they all claim to be loss making.
This is because of the hard conditions of the British newspaper market.
Some people claim that a great majority of the national papers (about 70 % of the circulation figures) express a conservative leaning.
Furthermore they criticize the monopolistic tendencies of the British press.
90 % of the total circulation are controlled by only 5 so called "Press Lords".
Rupert Murdoch an Australian is one of them and he already owns 30 % of Britain's national press.
People are worried about that because these "Press Lords" could misuse the power which media today have.
"Qualities" or "Heavies" "Populars" or "Yellow" Press
"Dailies" "Sundays" "Dailies" "Sundays"
Daily Telegraph Sunday Telegraph The Sun
The Guardian The Observer Daily Mirror Sunday Mirror
The Times Sunday Times Daily Mail The Mail on Sunday
The Independent Daily Express Sunday Express
Financial Times Daily Star The People
Today News of the World
foundation date Political
Daily Telegraph (1855) Con 1,138,000
The Guardian (1821) Ind (Lib) 470,000
The Times (1785) Con 450,000
The Independent (1886) Ind 375,000
Financial Times (1888) Ind 206,000
Sunday Times (1822) Ind (Con) 1,362,000
The Observer (1791) Ind (Lib) 749,000
Sunday Telegraph (1961) Con 716,000
The Sun (1964) Con 4,146,000
Daily Mirror (1903) Lab 3,061,000
Daily Mail (1896) Con 1,792,000
Daily Express (1900) Con 1,679,000
Daily Star (1978) Con 1,013,000
Today (1986) Ind 408,000
Morning Star (1966) Com 29,000
News of the World - 5,213,000
Sunday Mirror - 2,747,000
The People - 2,723,000
Sunday Express - 2,143,000
The Mail on Sunday - 1,932,000
Abbreviations Con - Conservative; Ind - Independent; Lab - Labour;
Lib - Liberal; Com - Communist