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The British Government: The British Media
The British Government: A Brief Overview
Information courtesy of The British Information Services

The Press
There are about 130 daily and Sunday newspapers, over 2,000 weekly newspapers and some 7,000 periodical publications in Britain. That's more national and regional daily newspapers for every person in Britain than in most other developed countries. The major papers, twelve national morning daily newspapers (5 qualities and 7 populars) and nine Sunday papers (4 qualities and 5 populars) are available in most parts of Britain. All the national newspapers use computer technology, and its use in the provincial press, which has generally led the way in adopting new techniques, is widespread.

The press in Britain is free to comment on matters of public interest, subject to law (including that of libel). By the open discussions of all types of goings on, it is obvious that there is no state control or censorship of the press, which caters to a variety of political views, interests and levels of education. Newspapers are almost always financially independent of any political party, but their political leanings are easily discerned.

The industry is self regulating, having set up a Press Complaints Commission in 1991 to handle public complaints. The Commission was established at the suggestion of a government-appointed committee to promote more effective press self-regulation and to prevent intrusion into privacy.

British broadcasting has traditionally been based on the principle that it's a public service accountable to the people through Parliament. Following 1990 legislation, it is also embracing the principles of competition and choice. Three public bodies are responsible for television and radio throughout Britain. They are:

1. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) broadcasts television and radio

2. The Independent Television Commission (ITC) licenses and regulates non-BBC television services, including cable and satellite

3. The Radio Authority licenses and regulates all non-BBC radio.

Television viewing is Britain's most popular leisure pastime: 95 per cent of households have a color television set and 68 per cent have a video recorder.

The Government is not responsible for programming content or the day-to-day conduct of the business of broadcasting. Broadcasters are free to air programs with the only limitation on their independence being the requirement that they not offend good taste.

The BBC operates two complementary national television channels and five national radio services. It also has 39 local radio stations, and regional radio services in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. BBC World Service Radio transmits in English and 37 other languages worldwide. Regular listeners are estimated to number 120 million. BBC World Service Television, set up in 1992, provides three services: a subscription channel in Europe; a 24-hour news and information channel available throughout Asia; and a news and information channel in Africa. Both BBC overseas services have complete editorial independence.

BBC domestic services are financed almost exclusively by the sale of annual television licenses; World Service radio is financed from a government grant, while World Service Television is self-funding. Popular television drama programs produced for the BBC are shown in America and many other countries around the world.

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