Mass media in the United Kingdom

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The Television Centre, the headquarters of the BBC from 1960 to 2013. BBC TV Centre.jpg
The Television Centre, the headquarters of the BBC from 1960 to 2013.

There are several different types of mass media in the United Kingdom: television, radio, newspapers, magazines and websites. The country also has a strong music industry.

Contents

The United Kingdom has a diverse range of providers, the most prominent being the publicly owned public service broadcaster, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The BBC's largest competitors are ITV plc, which operates 13 of the 15 regional television broadcasters that make up the ITV Network, and American global media conglomerate Comcast, which owns the broadcaster Sky.

Regional media is covered by local radio, television and print newspapers. Reach plc (formerly Trinity Mirror) operates 240 local and regional newspapers. The secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport has overall responsibility over media ownership and broadcasting. [1]

Audiences

In 2009 it was estimated that individuals viewed a mean of 3.75 hours of television per day and listened to 2.81 hours of radio. The main BBC public service broadcasting channels accounted for and estimated 28.4% of all television viewing; the three main independent channels accounted for 29.5% and the increasingly important other satellite and digital channels for the remaining 42.1%. [2] Sales of newspapers have fallen since the 1970s and in 2009 42% of people reported reading a daily national newspaper. [3] In 2010, 82.5% of the United Kingdom population were Internet users, the highest proportion amongst the 20 countries with the largest total number of users in that year. [4]

National media centres and organisations

Mediacity in Greater Manchester, privately funded and publicly backed by the BBC is the largest media-production facility in the United Kingdom. Media City Footbridge and BBC Offices (geograph 2685261).jpg
Mediacity in Greater Manchester, privately funded and publicly backed by the BBC is the largest media-production facility in the United Kingdom.

London

London dominates the media sector in the United Kingdom as national newspapers, television and radio networks are largely based there. Notable centres include Fleet Street and BBC Broadcasting House.

Specialist local paper City A.M. is a free, business-focused newspaper published in print Monday to Friday. It is typically available from around 6 am at London commuter stations and is handed out at key points in the City, Canary Wharf and other central London locations.

Greater Manchester

Greater Manchester is also a significant national media hub. Notable centres include MediaCityUK a 200-acre (80ha) media production facility in Salford and Trafford.

The Guardian national newspaper was founded in Manchester in 1821, and was known as the Manchester Guardian until 1959. In the 1950s, coinciding with the growth in television, the Granada Television franchise was set up by Sidney Bernstein. Consequently, the Granada Studios were the first purpose-built television studios in the United Kingdom. The franchise produced television programmes such as Coronation Street and the Up Series . The BBC currently has two of its six major business divisions based here BBC North Group that comprises a number of important departments including BBC Breakfast, BBC Children's, BBC Sport, BBC Radio 5 and BBC North West. The other division is BBC Future Media. In addition ITV has two major divisions of its business based here ITV Studios responsible for UK and international network production and ITV Granada its regional service provider. The University of Salford also has a media campus and research center based at media city. [5]

The United Kingdom is known for its large music industry, along with its new and upcoming artists. In the UK, media is spread through the forms of TV, newspapers, magazines, websites, and radio.

Other key centres

Edinburgh and Glasgow, and Cardiff are important centres of newspaper and broadcasting production in Scotland and Wales respectively. [6]

The BBC, founded in 1922, is the United Kingdom's publicly funded radio, television and Internet broadcasting corporation, and is the oldest and largest broadcaster in the world. It operates numerous television and radio stations in the United Kingdom and abroad and its domestic services are funded by the television licence. [7] [8]

Other major players in the United Kingdom media include ITV plc, which operates 11 of the 15 regional television broadcasters that make up the ITV Network, [9] and News Corporation, which owns a number of national newspapers through News International such as the tabloid The Sun and "broadsheet" The Times . [10] [11]

Print

The United Kingdom print publishing sector, including books, server, directories and databases, journals, magazines and business media, newspapers and news agencies, has a combined turnover of around £20 billion and employs around 167,000 people. [12]

According to a 2021 report by the Media Reform Coalition, 90% of the UK-wide print media is owned and controlled by just three companies, Reach plc (formerly Trinity Mirror), News UK and DMG Media. This figure was up from 83% in 2019. [13] The report also found that six companies operate 83% of local newspapers. The three largest local publishers—Newsquest, Reach and JPI Media—each control a fifth of local press market, more than the share of the smallest 50 local publishers combined. [13]

Newspapers

Traditionally British newspapers have been divided into "quality", serious-minded newspapers (usually referred to as "broadsheets" because of their large size) and the more "tabloid" varieties. For convenience of reading many traditional broadsheets have switched to a more compact-sized format, traditionally used by tabloids. In 2008 The Sun had the highest circulation of any daily newspaper in the United Kingdom at 3.1 million, approximately a quarter of the market. [14] Its sister paper, the News of the World , had the highest circulation in the Sunday newspaper market, [14] until its closure in 2011. [15]

The Guardian is a liberal, "quality" broadsheet and the Financial Times is the main business newspaper, printed on distinctive salmon-pink broadsheet paper. [16] Reach plc, which operates 240 local and regional newspapers in the United Kingdom as well as the national newspapers Daily Mirror , Sunday Mirror and The People , purchased Northern & Shell in 2018, thus adding the Daily Express , Sunday Express, Daily Star to its stable. [17] [18]

Scotland has a distinct tradition of newspaper readership (see list of newspapers in Scotland). The tabloid Daily Record has the highest circulation of any daily newspaper, outselling The Scottish Sun by four to one, while its sister paper the Sunday Mail similarly leads the Sunday newspaper market. The leading "quality" daily newspaper in Scotland is The Herald , though it is the sister paper of The Scotsman , and the Scotland on Sunday that leads in the Sunday newspaper market. [19] In November 2014, a new newspaper was launched in Scotland called The National . [20]

In 2018 TheGuardian.com, News UK ( The Times , The Sunday Times , The Sun ) and The Daily Telegraph created a joint platform for advertisers to buy online adverts across the multiple leading news websites, called The Ozone Project. [21] Later in the year Reach plc joined the platform, bringing nearly all of UK's national newspapers onto the platform. [22] As of 2020, the newspaper with the highest circulation is the Metro with 1,426,535 readers. [23] The Sun and other tabloid daily newspapers have seen a drop in circulation. [23]

Broadsheet and former broadsheet newspapers

TitleDays of
publication
CirculationEstablishedEditorOwnerPolitical
orientation
Political party support
in the 2019 general election
Format
The Daily Telegraph DailyN/A1855 Chris Evans Press Holdings (Frederick Barclay) Right-wing Conservative Party Broadsheet
The Sunday Telegraph Sundays1961 Allister Heath
The Times Daily1785 John Witherow News Corporation Centre-right Compact
The Sunday Times Sundays1821 Emma Tucker Broadsheet
Financial Times Daily104,0241888 Roula Khalaf Nikkei Inc. Centrist None
The Guardian Daily111,9531821 Katharine Viner Scott Trust Limited's Guardian Media Group. Centre-left Labour Party Compact
The Observer Sundays152,1291791 Paul Webster None
i Daily148,1632010 Oliver Duff Daily Mail and General Trust Centrist
i WeekendSaturdaysN/A2017
The Independent N/A1986Chris Broughton Sultan Muhammad Abuljadayel
Alexander Lebedev
Evgeny Lebedev
Online only

    Tabloid newspapers

    TitleDays of publicationFormatEstablishedEditorOwnerPolitical
    orientation
    Political party support
    in the 2019 general election
    Daily Mail DailyBroadsheet (1896 – 1971)

    Tabloid (since 1971)

    1896 Geordie Greig Daily Mail and General Trust plc Right-wing, conservative Conservative Party
    The Mail on Sunday SundaysTabloid1982
    Daily Express DailyBroadsheet (1900 – 1977)

    Tabloid (since 1978)

    1900 Gary Jones Reach Right-wing, conservative
    Sunday Express SundaysBroadsheet (1918 – 1992)

    Tabloid (since 1992)

    1918Michael Booker
    The Sun DailyTabloid1964 Tony Gallagher News Corporation Right-wing, conservative
    The Sun on Sunday SundaysTabloid2012
    Daily Mirror DailyTabloid1903 Lloyd Embley Reach Centre-left Labour Party
    Sunday Mirror SundaysTabloid1915
    Sunday People SundaysTabloid1881Paul Henderson
    Daily Star DailyTabloid1978 Jon Clark Largely non-politicalNone
    Daily Star Sunday SundaysTabloid2002 Stuart James
    Morning Star DailyTabloid1930 Ben Chacko People's Press Printing Society Left-wing, socialist Labour Party
    Eastern Eye WeeklyTabloid1989Asian Media GroupNone

    Freesheet newspapers in urban centres

    TitleDays of publicationFormatEstablishedEditorOwnerPolitical
    orientation
    Distribution
    Evening Standard Weekdays (evening)Tabloid1827 George Osborne Alexander Lebedev (75.1%)
    Lord Rothermere (24.9%)
    Centre-right, conservative Greater London
    Metro WeekdaysTabloid1999 Ted Young Daily Mail and General Trust plc Non-partisan, neutral (self-claim)Wide availability in the major cities
    City A.M. Weekdays (morning)Tabloid2005Christian MayCity A.M. Ltd Centre-right, conservative Wide availability in the major cities
    The Shuttle WeeklyTabloid1870Peter JohnNewsquest Media GroupLocal politics Wyre Forest area of Worcestershire
    Asian ExpressWeeklyTabloid1999Media Buzz Ltd
    Yorkshire ReporterMonthlyTabloid2013Pick up Publications LtdWidely available in Leeds and its surrounding areas
    Asian StandardWeeklyTabloid2017RF Publishing LtdWidely available as regional titles in Bradford, Kirklees, North East and Leeds

    Magazines

    A large range of magazines are sold in the United Kingdom covering most interests and potential topics. British magazines and journals that have achieved worldwide circulation include The Economist , Prospect, Nature , New Scientist , New Statesman , Private Eye , The Spectator , the Radio Times , and NME .

    Books

    Broadcasting

    Radio

    Picture of a Truetone brand radio Truetone-Radio.jpg
    Picture of a Truetone brand radio

    Radio in the United Kingdom is dominated by the BBC, which operates radio stations both in the United Kingdom and abroad. The BBC World Service radio network is broadcast in 33 languages globally. Domestically the BBC also operates ten national networks and over 40 local radio stations including services in Welsh on BBC Radio Cymru, Gaelic on BBC Radio nan Gàidheal in Scotland and Irish in Northern Ireland. [24] The domestic services of the BBC are funded by the television licence. [25] The internationally targeted BBC World Service Radio is funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, though from 2014 it will be funded by the television licence. [26] The most popular radio station by number of listeners is BBC Radio 2, closely followed by BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 1. Advances in digital radio technology have enabled the launch of several new stations by the Corporation. [27]

    Rather than operating as independent entities, many commercial local radio stations are owned by large radio groups which broadcast a similar format to many areas. The largest operator of radio stations is Global Radio, owner of the major Heart, Smooth and Capital radio brands. It also owns Classic FM, Smooth Radio and Radio X. Other owners are Wireless Group and Bauer Radio. There are a number of licensed community radio stations [28] which broadcast to local audiences.

    Television

    The United Kingdom has no analogue television. A free to air digital service is made up of two chartered public broadcasting companies, the BBC and Channel 4 and two franchised commercial television companies, (ITV and Channel 5) specializing in entertainment, drama, arts, nature, documentary, sports, comedy etc. In addition to this, the United Kingdom's free-to-air Freeview service runs a large number of entertainment, music, sport and shopping channels from the likes of CBS, UKTV and Sky. There are five major nationwide television channels: BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 — currently transmitted by digital terrestrial, free-to-air signals with the latter three channels funded by commercial advertising. The vast majority of digital cable television services are provided by Virgin Media with satellite television available from Freesat or Sky and free-to-air digital terrestrial television by Freeview. The entire country switched to digital (from a previously analogue signal) in 2012. [29]

    The BBC operates several television channels in the United Kingdom and abroad. The BBC's international television news service, BBC World News, is broadcast throughout the world. The domestic services of the BBC are funded by the television licence [25] and not only operates BBC One and BBC Two, but also BBC Four, the BBC News, BBC Parliament and children's television channels CBBC and CBeebies. The international television broadcast services are operated by BBC Studios on a commercial subscription basis over cable and satellite services. This commercial arm of the BBC also owns UKTV. [30]

    Channel 4 is similarly chartered to the BBC, with a remit to provide public service broadcasting and schools programs, however it runs commercial advertisements to provide a revenue stream. It produces a number of digital channels, branded as Channel 4, as well as More4 and Film4.

    The commercial operators rely on advertising for their revenue, and are run as commercial ventures, in contrast to the public service operators. The ITV franchise transmits the 3 different networks in different parts of the country. These are known as ITV in England, Wales, Scottish Borders, Isle of Man and Channel Islands, STV in Central and Northern Scotland, and UTV in Northern Ireland. ITV also operates ITV2, ITV3, ITV4, and CITV - the latter which is for children - via ITV Digital Channels. The broadcaster Sky owns several flagship channels, including Sky Arts, Sky Nature, Sky Cinema and Sky Atlantic. [31]

    The Royal Television Society (RTS) is an educational charity for the discussion, and analysis of television in all its forms, past, present, and future. It is the oldest television society in the world. [32]

    Internet

    The United Kingdom has been involved with the Internet throughout its origins and development. The telecommunications infrastructure in the United Kingdom provides Internet access to businesses and home users in various forms, including fibre, cable, DSL, wireless and mobile.

    The share of households with internet access in the United Kingdom grew from 9 percent in 1998 to 93 percent in 2019. Virtually all adults aged 16 to 44 years in the UK were recent internet users (99%) in 2019, compared with 47% of adults aged 75 years and over; in aggregate, the third-highest in Europe. Online shoppers in the UK spend more per household than consumers in any other country. Internet bandwidth per Internet user was the 7th highest in the world in 2016, and average and peak internet connection speeds were top-quartile in 2017. Internet use in the United Kingdom doubled in 2020. The United Kingdom's most visited websites include google.com, youtube.co.uk, facebook.com, bbc.co.uk, google.co.uk, and ebay.co.uk. [33]

    See also

    Related Research Articles

    ITV Digital Former British digital terrestrial TV service

    ITV Digital was a British digital terrestrial television broadcaster which launched a pay-TV service on the world's first digital terrestrial television network. Its main shareholders were Carlton Communications plc and Granada plc, owners of two franchises of the ITV network. Starting as ONdigital in 1998, the service was re-branded as ITV Digital in July 2001.

    ITV (TV network) TV network in the United Kingdom

    ITV is a British free-to-air television network with its headquarters in London. It was launched in 1955 as Independent Television to provide competition to BBC Television, which had been established in 1932. ITV is the oldest commercial network in the UK. Since the passing of the Broadcasting Act 1990, its legal name has been Channel 3 to distinguish it from the other analogue channels at the time, namely BBC1, BBC2 and Channel 4.

    Regular television broadcasts in the United Kingdom started in 1936 as a public service which was free of advertising, while the introduction of television and the first tests commencing in 1922. Currently, the United Kingdom has a collection of free-to-air, free-to-view and subscription services over a variety of distribution media, through which there are over 480 channels for consumers as well as on-demand content. There are six main channel owners who are responsible for most material viewed.

    ITN British-based news and content provider

    Independent Television News (ITN) is a UK-based television production company. It is made up of two divisions: Broadcast News and ITN Productions. ITN is based in London, with bureaux and offices in Beijing, Brussels, Jerusalem, Johannesburg, New York, Paris, Sydney and Washington, D.C.

    ITV (TV channel) British free-to-air television channel

    ITV is a British free-to-air television channel owned and operated by ITV plc. It provides the Channel 3 service across the country except in the central and northern areas of Scotland where STV holds the licences.

    ITV2 British free-to-air television channel

    ITV2 is a British free-to-air television channel owned by ITV Digital Channels, a division of ITV plc. It was launched on 7 December 1998. For a number of years, it had the largest audience share after the five analogue terrestrial stations, a claim now held by its sister service ITV3 both of which are freely available to a majority of households.

    ITV plc British-based media company

    ITV plc is a British media company that holds 13 of the 15 regional television licences that make up the ITV network, the oldest and largest commercial terrestrial television network in the United Kingdom.

    Teletext Ltd was the provider of teletext and digital interactive services for ITV, Channel 4 and Five in the United Kingdom. Teletext Ltd currently runs Teletext Holidays only.

    Channel Four Television Corporation British media company headquartered in London

    The Channel Four Television Corporation is a publicly-owned media company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. Its original and principal activity is the British national television network Channel 4.

    ITV HD

    ITV HD is a British free-to-air high-definition television channel operated by ITV plc, the company which is contracted to provide 11 ITV services across the UK. ITV HD is available to view in England, Wales and the Scottish Borders on Freesat via channel 103, Freeview channel 103, Sky channel 103, Virgin Media channel 103 and in Switzerland on SwisscomTV.

    Media of Scotland

    Scottish media has a long and distinct history. Scotland has a wide range of different types and quality of media.

    There are four major forms of digital television (DTV) broadcast in the United Kingdom: a direct-to-home satellite service from the Astra 28.2°E satellites provided by Sky UK, a cable television service provided by Virgin Media ; a free-to-air satellite service called Freesat; and a free-to-air digital terrestrial service called Freeview. In addition, an IPTV system known as BT Vision is provided by BT. Individual access methods vary throughout the country. 77% of the United Kingdom has access to HDTV via terrestrial digital television. Satellite is the only source of HDTV broadcast available for the remaining 23%.

    The media in Northern Ireland are closely linked to those in the rest of the United Kingdom, and also overlap with print, television, and radio in the Republic of Ireland.

    High-definition television in the United Kingdom is available via cable, IPTV, satellite and terrestrial television. The first high-definition broadcasts began in late 2005 and since then the number of channels available to view has grown to a maximum of 87 that can be viewed on pay-TV service, Sky.

    STV Group Scottish media company

    STV Group plc is a media company based in Glasgow, Scotland. Beginning as a television broadcaster in 1957, the company expanded into newspapers, advertising and radio; after completing a restructuring in 2010, STV Group is active in broadcast television, video-on-demand and television production. The company is a constituent of the FTSE SmallCap Index.

    This is a timeline of the history of Carlton Television.

    This is a timeline of ITV Digital Channels. The timeline also covers other channels created by other ITV companies, which they operated in addition to their main ITV service.

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    Further reading