Free Resources for
Students and Teachers of English as a Foreign Language in China - by Paul Sparks
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Lesson 3 - British Media:
Television, Radio, Newspapers, Internet etc.
Lesson Activities: Open discussion about Television, Radio, Newspapers and the Internet.
MEDIA: "media" is the Latin plural of 'medium', meaning the means by which something is communicated. Television, Radio and Newspapers, Advertising, Music, Posters, Books, Magazines, the Theatre and Cinema are all methods for reaching many people with lots of information and more.
Television: There are five free television channels in Britain (BBC1,BBC2, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5). There are also satellite and cable channels paid for by subscription. BBC has no adverts, funded by liecence fee. All other channels have advertising.
Channels such as BBC1 offer general entertainment, while others concentrate on specific areas of interest, such as sport, music, movies, and children’s programmes. The largest satellite broadcaster is BskyB (British Sky Broadcasting).
The most popular channels are ITV and BBC1. BBC2 and Channel 4 are often called 'minority' or 'alternative' channels because they broadcast programmes which are outside of the mainstream. Channel 5 began transmitting in 1997 but as yet it has failed to attract a significant share of the audience.
The BBC is the one of the worlds largest media organisations, providing five national radio networks, 39 local radio stations and World Service (radio and television) in addition to its two TV services. Its main source of income is the licence fee, although it is having to become increasingly commercial, for instance through the sale of programmes, merchandise and technical resources.
Britain's other TV services (Channels 3, 4 & 5 and satellite/cable) rely financially on selling advertising space and sponsorship of programmes.
Soap operas continue to be the most popular TV programmes, followed by drama or adventure series (eg. Casualty or The Bill). Lighthearted shows such as Blind Date and quizzes also attract large audiences.
the development of more single theme channels on satellite and cable (eg.
films, news, life styles, music, sci-fi, nostalgia) means that viewers
are more easily able to 'filter out' types of programmes which do not appeal
to them. And improved technology is leading to cable (community) and pay-to-view
television being linked with phone lines, radio, the Internet, and interactive
opportunities such as home shopping and banking. – Interactive.
Radio: People in the UK spend almost 16 hours a week listening to the radio. The BBC has five national radio networks, which together transmit all types of music, news, current affairs, drama, education, sport and a range of features programmes. There are also 39 BBC local radio stations serving England and also national regional radio services in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
There are three national commercial radio stations. About 200 independent local radio services are also in operation. These stations supply local news and information, sport, music and other entertainment, education and consumer advice. An expansion of local and national radio will be made possible with digital audio broadcasting. BBC digital radio broadcasts began in September 1995. The first commercial digital radio services are due to be broadcast in 1999.
85% of people in Britain today listen regularly to the radio. The sector which attracts the largest audience is independent local radio, broadcasting to young people in a largely music format.
Speech-based programmes tend to dominate BBC Radio 4 and 5 schedules, as well as Talk Radio. BBC Local Radio, targeting people over 40, feature about twice as much speech as music. Restricted Service Licences or RSLs are issued by the Radio Authority for small community- or college-centred radio stations which are then permitted to broadcast for a limited period.
Changes in Regulation: Broadcasting in the UK is undergoing radical change. The availability of more radio frequencies, together with satellite, cable and microwave transmissions, has already made a greater number of local, national and international services possible. The transition from analogue to digital transmission technology has the potential to expand this capacity enormously.
broadcasting is a new, more effective way of transmitting radio and television
services. It allows much more information than before to be transmitted,
and can offer many more channels, extra services, interactivity and higher
quality picture and sound to viewers and listeners willing to invest in
new receiving equipment.
Newspapers: More daily newspapers, national and regional, are sold for every person in Britain than in most other developed countries. On an average day, nearly 60 percent of people over the age of 15 read a national morning paper and over 65 percent read a Sunday newspaper. There are 10 national morning daily newspapers, 9 Sundays, about 1,400 regional and local newspaper titles, and over 6,500 periodical publications on sale. There is no state control or censorship.
There are two types of newspaper, Tabloid and Broadsheet. Tabloids dominate the market; they provide a mainly entertainment and sports news, usually in a sensational or scandalous way, they use their own interpretation of current news issues. The Sun is bought by around 4 million people every day, four times the number who buy the highest selling broadsheet paper, the Daily Telegraph. Middle-range papers (Mail and Express) claim about a quarter of readers, with 'quality' newspapers (The Times, Guardian, Independent etc) less than 20%
On Sundays, the News of the World is read by up to a third of newspaper readers. It is published by News International which also owns The Sun, The Times, and the Sunday Times, and has a 40% share in BskyB. Many of the large media groups have business interests in other areas of the media (e.g. regional ITV companies, satellite or cable TV, magazines, books or regional newspapers).
In addition to national newspapers, there are also 43 million local or regional papers bought or delivered free to homes in Britain every week.