BBC Television is a service of the British Broadcasting Corporation which began in 1932. The British Broadcasting Corporation has operated in the
United Kingdomunder the terms of a Royal Chartersince 1927.
History of BBC Television
The British Broadcasting Corporation operates several
television networks, television stations (although there is generally very little distinction between the two in the UK) and related programming services in the United Kingdom. As well as being a broadcaster, they also produce a large number of their own programmes in-house, forming one of the world's largest television production companies.
1932 to 1939
Mechanically scanned, 30-line television broadcasts by
John Logie Bairdbegan in 1929, using the BBC transmitter in London, and by 1930 a regular schedule of programmes was transmitted from the BBC antenna in Brookmans Park. Television production was switched from Baird's company to what is now known as BBC Oneon August 2, 1932, and continued until September 1935. Regularly scheduled electronically scanned television began from Alexandra Palacein Londonon 2 November 1936, to just a few hundred viewers in the immediate area. It was reaching an estimated 25,000-40,000 homes before the outbreak of the Second World Warcaused the service to be suspended in September 1939. The VHFbroadcasts would have provided an ideal radio beacon for German bombers homing in on London, and the engineers and technicians of the service would be needed for the war effort, in particular the RADAR programme.
1946 to 1964
In 1946, TV transmissions resumed from Alexandra Palace. The BBC Television Service (renamed BBC tv in 1960) showed popular programming, including drama, comedies, documentaries,
game shows and soap operas, covering a wide range of genres and regularly competed with ITVto become the channel with the highest ratings for that week.
1964 to 1967
BBC tv was renamed BBC1 in 1964, after the launch of BBC2 (now BBC Two), the third television station (
ITVwas the second) for the UK; its remit, to provide more niche programming. The channel was due to launch on 20 April 1964, but was put off the air by a massive power failure that affected much of London, caused by a fire at Battersea Power Station. A videotape made on the opening night was rediscovered in 2003 by a BBC technician. In the end the launch went ahead the following night, hosted by an announcer holding a candle. BBC2 was the first British channel to use UHF and 625-line pictures, giving higher definition than the existing VHF 405-linesystem.
1967 to 2003
In December 1967, BBC Two became the first television channel in Europe to broadcast regularly in colour, using the German
PALsystem that is still in use today although being gradually superseded by digital systems. ( BBC Oneand ITVbegan 625-line colour broadcasts simultaneously on 15 November 1969). Unlike other terrestrial channels, BBC Two does not have soap operaor standard newsprogramming, but a range of programmes intended to be eclectic and diverse (although if a programme has high audience ratings it is often eventually repositioned to BBC One). The different remit of BBC2 allowed its first controller, Sir David Attenborough to commission the first heavyweight documentaries and documentary series such as "Civilisation", " The Ascent of Man" and "Horizon".
David Attenborough was later granted
sabbaticalleave from his job as Controller to work with the BBC Natural History Unit which had existed since the 1950s. This unit is now famed throughout the world for producing high quality programmes with Attenborough such as " Life On Earth", " The Private Life of Plants", " The Blue Planet" and "Planet Earth".
regional variationsalso occur within the BBC One and BBC Two schedules. England's BBC One output is split up into fifteen regions (such as South West and East), which exist mainly to produce local news programming, but also occasionally opt out of the network to show programmes of local importance (such as major local events). The other nations of the United Kingdom ( Walesand Scotland, and the province of Northern Ireland) have been granted more autonomy from the English network; for example, programmes are mostly introduced by local announcers, rather than by those in London. BBC One and BBC Two schedules in the other UK nations can vary immensely from BBC One and BBC Two in England.
Programmes, such as the politically fuelled "
Give My Head Peace" (produced by BBC Northern Ireland) and the soap opera" River City" (produced by BBC Scotland), have been created specifically to cater for viewers in their respective nations, who may have found programmes created for English audiences irrelevant. BBC Scotland produces daily programmes for its Gaelic-speaking viewers, including current affairs, political and children's programming such as the popular Eòrpaand Dè a-nis?. BBC Wales also produces a large amount of Welsh languageprogramming for S4C, particularly news, sport and other programmes, especially the soap opera " Pobol y Cwm" ('People of the Valley'). The UK nations also produce a number of programmes that are shown across the UK, such as BBC Scotland's comedy series "Chewin' the Fat", and BBC Northern Ireland's talk show "".
The BBC is also renowned for its production of costume dramas, such as
Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" and contemporary social dramas such as " Boys from the Blackstuff" and " Our Friends in the North". The BBC has come under pressure to commission more programmes from independent British production companies, and indeed is legally required to source 25% of its output from such companies by the terms of the Broadcasting Act 1990. Programmes have also been imported mainly from English-speaking countries: notable examples include " The Simpsons" from the United Statesand " Neighbours" from Australia. Because of the availability of programmes in English, few programmes need use sub-titles or dubbing unlike much European television.
The BBC also introduced
Ceefax, the first teletextservice, starting in 1974. This service allows BBC viewers to view textual information such as the latest news on their television. CEEFAX has not made a full transition to digital television, instead being replaced by the new interactive BBCi service.
In March 2003 the BBC announced that from the end of May 2003 (subsequently deferred to 14 July) it intended to transmit all eight of its domestic television channels (including the 15 regional variations of BBC 1) unencrypted from the
Astra 2Dsatellite. This move was estimated to save the BBC £85 million over the next five years.
While the "footprint" of the Astra 2D satellite was smaller than that of Astra 2A, from which it was previously broadcast encrypted, it meant that viewers with appropriate equipment were able to receive BBC channels "free-to-air" over much of Western Europe. Consequently, some rights concerns have needed to be resolved with programme providers such as Hollywood studios and sporting organisations, which have expressed concern about the unencrypted signal leaking out. This led to some broadcasts being made unavailable on the Sky Digital platform, such as
Scottish Premier Leagueand Scottish Cupfootball, while on other platforms such broadcasts were not disrupted. Later, when rights contracts were renewed, this problem was resolved.
On 5 July 2004, the BBC celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of its television news bulletins (although it had produced the "
Television Newsreel" for several years before 1954). This event was marked by the release of a DVD, which showed highlights of the BBC's television coverage of significant events over the half-century, as well as changes in the format of the BBC television news; from the newsreelformat of the first BBC Television News bulletins, to the 24-hour, worldwide news coverage available in 2004. A special edition of " Radio Times" was also produced, as well as a special section of the BBC News Onlinewebsite.
The BBC Television department headed by
Jana Bennettwas absorbed into a new, much larger group; BBC Vision, in late 2006. [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/print/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2006/11_november/20/vision.shtml BBC Vision Press release] BBC Press Office] The new group is part of larger restructuring within the BBC with the onset of new media outlets and technology.
In July 2007, the popular children's show
Blue Peterfaked the results of a contest, drawing a £50,000 fine, by the Office of Communications(OFCOM). Blue Peter broke the rules by using a studio guest to pose as the winner of a phone-in competition on the " Blue Peter" show on November 27, 2006. [ [http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/broadcasting/a64932/ofcom-fines-bbc-gbp50000-over-blue-peter.html Ofcom fines BBC £50,000 over 'Blue Peter'] ]
Free-to-air stations in the UK available as both analogue and digital signals
BBC One:The Corporation's primary network, broadcasting mainstream comedy, drama, documentaries, films, sport, and children's programmes. BBC One is also the home of the BBC's main 30-minutes news bulletins, currently shown at 13.00, 18.00, and 22.00 on weekdays (shorter early- and late-evening bulletins are broadcast on Saturdays and Sundays). The main news bulletins are followed by local news. These are provided by production centres in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and a further 14 regional and sub-regional centres in England. The centres also produce local news magazine programming.
:Most watched programme:
BBC Two:Home to more specialist programming, including comedy, documentaries, dramas and minority interest programmes, as well as imported programmes from other countries, particularly the United States. An important feature of the schedule is Newsnight, a 50-minute news analysis programme shown each weeknight at 22.30. There are slight differences in the programming for England, Wales Northern Ireland and Scotland. The most notable is a separate final 20 minutes for Newsnightbroadcast in Scotland.
:Most watched programme: Top Gear
Shutdown of all UK analogue television stations will began in 2008, leaving only digital transmission for terrestrial services. This will proceed by region finishing with London in 2012.
Free-to-air digital-only stations in the UK
BBC Three:The main digital television network operated by the Corporation, home to mainly youth-oriented programming, particularly new comedy sketch shows and sitcoms.
BBC Four:Niche programming for an intellectual audience, including specialist documentaries, occasional 'serious' dramas, live theatre, foreign language films and television programmes and 'prestige' archive television repeats.
BBC HD:A part-time high definition service launched on 1 December 2007 after a trial period of 18 months.
*BBC News:A dedicated news channel.
BBC Parliament:The Corporation's dedicated politics channel, covering both the British parliament and international politics.
CBBC Channel:For children aged six and above.
CBeebies:For children under six.
*BBC Alba:A new home for Gaelic programmes launched in September 2008 with a mixed genre of daily programmes featuring news and weather , sport, drama, documentry, entertainment, learning, religion and children's programmes. Most programmes, except children's programmes, are to be sub-titled in English.
BBC 2W: BBC Two Wales digital-only channel
International news channel
BBC World News:An international, commercially-funded twenty-four hour news channel, not officially available to UK viewers.
BBC Worldwide channels
The BBC's wholly owned commercial subsidiary,
BBC Worldwide, also operates several international television channels under BBC branding:
BBC America:A US general entertainment channel, co-owned with Discovery Networks, showcasing British television programming.
BBC Canada:A Canadian general entertainment channel, co-owned with Canwestand Goldman Sachs.
BBC Kids:A Canadian children's programming channel co-owned with Canwestand Goldman Sachs.
BBC Food:Dedicated to the BBC's various cookery programmes, broadcasting via satellite televisionin southern Africaand Scandinavia.
BBC Prime/ BBC Entertainment:Showcasing BBC programming via satellite television, available across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
BBC Lifestyle:Lifestyle programming, currently only available in Singaporeand Hong Kong, but will expand into other markets in 2008.
*BBC Knowledge:Documentaries and factual programming, currently only available in
Singaporeand Hong Kong, but will expand into other markets in 2008.
The BBC also co-owns the following channels in joint ventures with other broadcasters.
UK.TV:An entertainment channel in Australiaand New Zealand, co-owned with Foxteland RTL Group, carying drama and comedy programmes from the BBC, TalkbackTHAMES, ITVand Channel 4.
UKTV:Commercial television network in the United Kingdom, co-owned with Virgin Media Television). The channels broadcast mainly BBC archive and specially produced programming.
Animal Planet:Wildlife channel co-owned with Discovery Networks. The channel broadcasts in many markets around the world. BBC Japanwas a general entertainment channel, which operated between December 2004 and April 2006. It ceased operations after its Japanese distributor folded.
List of BBC television programming
History of BBC television idents
BBC television drama
BBC Local Radioabout BBC local radio stations.
BBC World Service- a specific article about BBC external radio and television broadcasting services.
British Broadcasting Company, Ltd., for a history of the BBC prior to 1927.
Timeline of the BBCfor an overview of BBC history.
Early television stations
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