History of Television Around the World - England

About the history of television in the world and in England and Great Britain, the BBC, ITV and regulation.

Television around the World


In November, 1936, the BBC began broadcasting Britain's 1st regular television service from the Alexandria Palace in London. There were only 100 television sets in England at the time. Since then, a commercial network has gone on the air, and the BBC itself has split into 2 separate and distinct networks. A unique system has resulted from this situation: The BBC is both competitive with the independent TV network and complementary within itself. Working together, BBC 1 and BBC 2 have created viewing fare like "Elizabeth R," "That Was the Week That Was," "Masterpiece Theatre," "Till Death Do Us Part" (the original of "All in the Family"), and many other world-renowned series. In addition, they have helped to bring playwrights like Harold Pinter and David Mercer--and directors like Ken Russell--to light. Both stations are funded out of annual license fees (about $17 for black-and-white sets, $29 for color). The average Englishman watches 3 hours of television daily.

ITV, while it is a commercial network, operates under strictly regulated conditions. A Code of Advertising Standards and Practices, for instance, provides for the review of all advertisement scripts in advance of their production, rejecting those which are judged misleading. And to make sure that its programming policy remains its own, ITV sells "spots" rather than allowing direct sponsoring of the program it airs, thus making the influence of advertisers minimal on program content.

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