Mass Media In Britain Media Essay

The overall aim of this paper is to explore current-day British media language, and how it has changed, or is changing, and how this affects people’s view of the world. Also, to look at the reverse, at how the new British media may be affecting language. Of course, in all this, language is inevitably interwoven with broader trends and issues.

Three main topics provide the cornerstones of the present paper, and these make up the three chapters.

Chapter I, Mass-media in Britain, contains subchapters which outline and discuss how British media has evolved and changed in recent years.

Chapter II, New alternative British Media models, explores various ways in which British media is realized at the current time, focusing on the representation of particular topics such as Web media so popular nowadays . We will show how these can influence the perceptions of readers or the audience.

Chapter III , Future Media in UK- BBC iPlayer, looks at the high-tech level employed by the British Media and analyses its success and downfalls.

Each chapter of this paper therefore has a separate main theme. However, in another way, the chapters overlap, in that certain key points recur.

Globalization versus fragmentation may be the most noticeable two-way alternative in British media. News reports leap across the globe in seconds, and this has resulted in some similarities in media styles across widely separated geographical regions. In other cases, the reverse has happened, the immensity of the world has led to a tightening of small-scale networks, resulting in some fragmentation, as people try to maintain local ties and their own identity. [1] 

This paper is an attempt to address some fundamental concerns underlying the British media studies. I first outline the academic and theoretical roots of this field. Then I discuss its major disciplinary dimensions and critical issues.

The specific aim of this paper is to set out the approximate sequence of development of the present-day set of British mass-media. It is also to indicate major turning points and to tell briefly something of the circumstances of time and place in which different British media acquired their public definitions in the sense of their perceived utility for audiences and their role in society. These definitions have tended to form early in the history of any given medium and to have been subsequently adapted in the light of newer media and changed conditions. This is a continuing process.

The paper concludes with some reflections on the two main dimensions of variation between British media: one relates to the degree of freedom and the other to the conditions of use.


I.1. British media-evolution and perspectives

The domestic media market in the UK is becoming ever more competitive . In broadcasting, the stable relationship that existed for many years between the BBC, a public corporation funded by a licence fee, and the Independent Television sector, a network of private regional broadcasters funded by advertising revenue, has fragmented, as a consequence of the arrival of satellite and cable companies whose main revenues are derived from subscriptions. Particularly significant is the rise and rise of SKY satellite TV and its multi-channel packages, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

The terrestrial stations themselves have also recently entered the digital market place, with varying success. The BBC’s non-subscription Free View service has so far proved moderately successful, delivering more dedicated programming aimed at niche audiences and subject areas.

However, ITV’s ventures into pay-view digital TV, launched as OnDigital in 1998, proved disastrous, being re-launched and then ending up as ITV digital in 2002 after incurring unsustainable losses. [2] 

The national newspaper market in the UK has always been a crowded one. There are currently nine daily and weekly up-market broadsheet titles and 10 tabloids that are distributed across the UK. This is by far the largest national newspaper press in Europe and has led some to question whether this is sustainable in a market the size of Britain. Long-term decline in readership figures (down 20% since 1990), rising production costs and falling advertising revenues have placed significant financial pressures across the sector, squeezing certain titles to the margins of viability. [3] 

These pressures are also evident at local and regional levels of the British newspaper market and have been exacerbated by the rise of free newspaper titles that are funded entirely by advertising revenue.

This intensifying competition has led to a growing concentration in ownership patterns both within and across British media sectors, as smaller outlets are acquired by multi-media corporations whose economies of scale protect them to some degree from market pressures.

Today, in the UK, the press is still characterised by a metropolitan focus – almost all its national newspapers are published in London, and its diversity, there are 11 national dailies, and 12 Sunday newspapers. Of these, 11 are tabloids, which focus mainly on light news and entertainment, whereas the so-called quality press is more focused on politics, economics and foreign news.

Regional and weekly newspapers, paid-for and free, concentrate almost entirely on local issues. Newspapers are free from political control and funded entirely by cover price and advertising. Working practices in newspapers and the broadcast media have been changed dramatically both by the opportunities provided by new technology and by the political and industrial climate created by the Thatcher government of the 1980s and unchanged in the 21st century.

In the broadcast industry, de-regulation since the 1990s has both fragmented the audience and, conversely, concentrated ownership. There are about 15 regional

commercial television licenses, though ownership is concentrated; hundreds of commercial radio stations, although the sector is characterised by large-groups; and there is also a new wave of community radio stations. [4] 

Television viewers can also access 24-hour news stations such as BBC 24, SKY News and CNN via cable and satellite and web sites complement many, if not most, of the news outlets.

The distinctive character of the UK media, metropolitan, historically rooted in an early emancipation from political party control of the press, thoroughly commercial in structure and organisation, yet with a seminal public service broadcasting institution at its core, is unique.

News time is time in relation to place: what matters is the fastest news from the most distant – or most important – place.

In the evolving British media landscape, opportunity abounds. The roots of British media studies are traceable in the inquiries about the relationship between media and culture. The early attempts to this direction started during the 1920s following the rise of British mass media forms like radio networks, newspapers and magazines of mass circulation, and after mid 1930s with the advent of television media.

The initial studies into British media were influenced by the Eurocentric obsessions on high cultureclaimed by many to be “the best that has been said and thought.” [5] The media of the time were assigned the role of representing that high culture ignoring the world outside Europe and colonies of European powers. The period was marked by widespread British hegemony in media production and circulation with news agencies like Reuters and BBC, which projected the image of “media as powerful and influential, media as vehicles of nation-state or class propaganda, media as exemplars of modern technologically sophisticated professionalism”.

Development of academic media discourse, nevertheless, was remarkably slow during these formative years because it lacked a specific theoretical direction as a result of what Denis MacQuail (2002) calls “the absence of a fixed disciplinary base”. [6] 

Postmodernism promotes the worldview that the present is the age when identities are determined by “whose information is disseminated fastest” . It further recognizes the role of mass media in integrating people by reducing boundaries of space and time. It acknowledges the presence of multiple technologies as vehicles creating more spaces and more possibilities of switching across them. According to Carl Eric Rosengren, “As new media for communication have been created, the old ones have become specialized, but none have been completely eliminated”.This notion fully applies to British media’s evolution.

More than any other technologies for mass communication, contemporary media allow for a greater quantity of information transmission and retrieval, place more control over both content creation and selection in the hands of their users, and do so with less cost to the average consumer.

The Internet serves as the best example and, through digital convergence, will form the backbone of most future mediated communication. The Internet was designed to be decentralized, meaning that control is distributed to all users who have relatively equal opportunity to contribute content. The increased bandwidth of the Internet further enhances users’ ability to become content producers and to produce material that is fairly sophisticated at low cost. In addition, many of the new technologies in UK are more portable and, therefore, more convenient to use compared with older mass media.

These characteristics of the new media are breaking the foundations of our conception of mass communication. Today, media institutions are changing such that mass production is less mass. The explosion of available channels afforded by the new technologies contributes to the demassification of the media by diffusing the audience for any particular media product. This has resulted in channel specialization, and the old model of broadcasting to the masses has given way to market segmentation and targeting to niche audiences. [7] 

Although existing British media institutions are well positioned to adapt to these changing conditions, the fact that the new British media shrink the size of the audience for any particular channel is likely to create opportunities for others. That is, if smaller audiences mean reduced costs of production and distribution, then more content producers will be able to enter the media market. In the near future, the issue may be less about what media companies are doing to people and more about what people are doing with the media. [8] 

This is one reason why we find new media holding great potential as a resource for British press freedom and freedom of expression. They serve as a platform for dialogue across borders and allow for innovative approaches to the distribution and acquisition of knowledge. These qualities are vital to press freedom. But they may be undercut by attempts to regulate and censor both access and content.

As follows we will provide in short lines some advantages and less fortunate characteristics of the choice for one media or another, in order to underline the interconnectedness among all of the media in shaping the large picture of the British media diversity.

The book medium

Technology of movable type

Bound pages, codex form

Multiple copies

Commodity form

Multiple (secular) content

Individual in use

Claim to freedom of publication

Individual authorship

The newspaper medium

Regular and frequent appearance

Commodity form

Reference to current events

Public sphere functions

Urban, secular audience

Relative freedom

The film medium

Audiovisual technology

From public performance to private experience

Extensive (universal) appeal

Predominantly narrative fiction

More international than national in character

Subjection to social control

From mass to multiple markets


Very large output, range and reach

Audiovisual content

Complex technology and organization

Public character and extensive regulation

National and international character

Very diverse content forms


Flexible and economical production

Flexible in use

Multiple contents

Relative freedom

Individualized use

Participant potential

Recorded music (phonogram) media

Multiple technologies of recording and dissemination

Low degree of regulation

High degree of internationalization

Younger audience

Subversive potential

Organizational fragmentation

Diversity of reception possibilities

The Internet as a medium

Computer-based technologies

Hybrid, non-dedicated, flexible character

Interactive potential

Private and public functions

Low degree of regulation


Ubiquity and delocatedness

Accessible to individuals as communicators [9] 

I.2. British newspapers , broadcast media and new age media

British Broadcast television – is going through a period of change with increasing digitilisation and interactive media cooperation. The biggest broadcast TV stations remain the BBC and SkyTV but these are supplemented by 250 cable and satellite TV stations and 1,100 independent television production companies. [10] 

This is a rapidly growing sector with cable and satellite and independent companies doubling in the period 2000-2008. This is a broad profession where 34% are freelance and people are judged by the quality of their work rather than their formal qualifications. Despite this, 70% have at least an undergraduate degree.

British Radio – the airwaves are dominated by the BBC , which has 12 distinct radio channels.

Interactive media – comprises collection of areas including web and internet, offline multimedia, electronic games and interactive TV.

Game design – the UK has one of the largest gaming industries. 48 of the world’s most profitable studios are based in the UK. The industry has been growing to7.5% from 2009-2012.

Some of the main Bristish Media organisations: the British Media Industry Group ,Cable Communications Association , ITV Network Centre, National Association of Press Agencies .

Some of the major industry bodies: Commonwealth Press Union, Institute of Local Television, Radio Joint Audience Research.

The major occupational/professional groups: Association of British Editors, British Society of Magazine Editors.

The main trade unions: Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union.

The UK Television

The five national networks (excluding satellite)

Cable and digital

Five national networks in the UK.

The main British TV channels are:

BBC 1 – since 1936, general interest programmes.

BBC 2 – minority and specialist interests.

ITV – broadcasting is approximately 33% informative and 66% light entertainment.

Channel 4 – since 1982, 15% educational programmes, encourages innovation and experiment.

Television viewing in Britain- overview

The most popular leisure pasttime

Average viewing time is over 25 hours a week

TV productions continue to win international awards

Half of the programmes are bought abroad

Children’s TV has been very active( Blue Peter on BBC 1)

“Youth TV” has been started recently

Presentation of the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation)

Six national stations.

Broadcasts: BBC 1, 2, 4, BBC News 24, BBC Choice, BBC Parliament.

Radio Channels.

No advertising.

Worldwide television services (BBC World, BBC Prime)

The division of programmes

Light entertainment (variety shows, soap operas, situation comedies, game shows)

News/current affairs

Documentaries [11] 

Children’s TV



Films/TV movies


British favourite TV shows

“Are you being served?”

“Bless me father”

“Fawlty Towers”


“Yes, Prime Minister”




The brief history of British radio [12] 

1922: BBC started daily broadcasting on 2LO on 14 Nov. The first voice was Arthur Burrows, reading the news.

1922: 15 Nov: 5IT and 2ZY became first BBC stations outside London.

1967: On 30th September, BBC radio reorganisation launched Radio’s 1,2,3 and 4.

1967: “Third Programme” and”National Programme” replaced 2LO. The “Regional Programme”, an alternative service, started later this year.

1973: Birth of independent (commercial) radio, with LBC and Capital Radio in London.

1988: First commercial station ‘split’ frequencies.

1990: IBA split into ITC 1991: Radio 1 goes 24 hours on 1 May.

1992: Launch of Classic FM, Britain’s first national commercial radio station.

1993: Launch of Virgin 1215.

1995: Talk Radio began broadcasting on 14 Feb.

1996: New rules on cross-media ownership heralds further change in the radio industry.

The most popular British radio stations are [13] :

Clare FM

Anna Livia

Live 95

Welsh Radio International

Imperial College radio

Capital FM

BBC Radio 2

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