British TV: The Bottom Line “18”

This started out as a question from Kevin, and I have decided to make a post out of it because the answer is pretty large.

In the UK we receive 5 channels on terrestrial (through an aerial). Those are BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

In the UK we pay a TV licence of about £80 a year for each property. SOME of this funds the BBC. The BBC can't advertise so they have to make do with this cash. They are as impartial as possible and definitely not government controlled.

ITV, Channel 4 and C5 are independent establishments, and separate companies. Channel 4 is my favourite, because they consistently push the envelope on what can and can't be broadcast. ITV is for old people, mostly. And I can't get C5 because it's a terrible channel that no one likes (except those from the BNP [a racist, sexist and homophobic party who have a shitty website {read it to see for yourself} and many despise]). They are always showing either documentaries about the Nazis or Porn.

Channel 4 is cool because it has all the 'HBO' shows and makes loads of really funny stuff - like So Graham Norton (who has defected to BBC3 [or Comedy Central the US]), Ali G (bizarrely showing on HBO) and, now, Green Wing. Plus it shows Nip Tuck (brill!), the West Wing (brill!) and Six Feet Under (brill!), which is nice.

Recent controversial programmes from C4 include an abortion and a live post-mortem. I watched them both and thought they were interesting.

There are loads more channels available on digital satellite - run by Sky - but it costs a lot. Digital terrestrial is free, and gets you 6 extra BBC channels (that are also available on Sky), plus others. DS is where you can also see the… erm… brilliant Fox News, which makes me laugh almost every time I watch it (when there aren't any ads on, which is rare).

For people in the US, BBC World is available. It does pretty decent news coverage, and is like what we get over here in the form of BBC News 24 (a digital channel). I'd suggest it hands down over CNN, Fox, CBS and ABC - all of which I have seen and thought them to be a little too political. ABC is my favourite out of those, and I sometimes watch it on weekdays on BBC News 24 at about 1.30 in the morning. CBS is aired at 0.30 on Sky News. Peter Jennings seems quite a nice guy, and Dan Rather looks like he wares a wig. We get the evening news and world news tonight editions. ABC WNT has a really catchy theme tune, too!

Cable is a dying beast - about 30 channels max are available and it costs quite a bit.

The most important thing for you to know is that no British TV is, to my knowledge, government controlled. This isn't Russia! Yet again, from what I've read, the US govt. seems to have a pretty tight grip on the media over there.

Now that was quite a lot of text, but I just have to say that I put the links in quickly to demonstrate points and give meaning to my words. The last one was just a quick link that I have never before seen, so don't take it too seriously.

18 Comments ~ Post a Comment

Blogger Kevin: Quick math, that's approximately $144.14 USD annually for a "site" TV license. That's in contrast to roughly $40 USD (about 22 GBP.. darn, where's that funky pounds symbol?) a month for similar service in the US. Kinda funny, but I've always preferred BBC World to our channels; [MS]NBC, CBS, and ABC being too liberal for me, and FOX being to conservative. I really like the BBC's more or less levelheaded reporting.
I also enjoy the sound it makes on my desktop whenever there is breaking news. That's quite fun.
Anyway, thanks for the dissertation. Now I won't be terribly confused when I move to the United Kingdom. I wish.
Coming up: Kevin asks questions about UCAS and British roadways.... kidding; come on guys.

Blogger Fin: lol

Blogger Monkeyhanger: Heres a few links for your post. I never knew that your TV licence is cheaper if you only have a black and white TV. I suppose the snooker wouldn't make much sense. But who the hell ONLY has a B&W TV?! Btw, you have seriously underrated cable.. you have been able to get cable TV here in Hartlepool since the 70's or something, back then it was called Rediffusion and there was only BBC1 BBC2 plus ITV, and the BBC radio stations..

Blogger Monkeyhanger:

I swear, I'm just bored.

Blogger Tatertot: I'm pretty sure that Dan Rather wears a toupee - there are a lot of jokes about it. Do you get NBC?

Blogger Fin: lol Thanks for that JB.

We get, on digital satellite, MSNBC. It seems to be a rather boring financial channel with okay-ish graphics.

Another catchy tune.

Blogger Kevin: CNBC is the financial one, MSNBC is an NBC-Microsoft "joint venture" (oh yes, one of those) that is basically an equivelant to CNN (Cable News Network) and Fox News, for instance, in that it broadcasts twenty-four hour news about roughly anything and everything. NBC is controlled by General Electric, the scary company that will one day rule the world. That's called hyperbole, by the way.
In the US cable is really the way we receive the majority of our programming. We can receive digital channels for roughly 50 USD a month - and that's generally 200-300 channels, much like our satellite services. Terrestrial via aerial, as you call it, is not quite as popular although it is freely available assuming you have local stations broadcasting it.
Really, the government has little control over stations except for deciding which frequencies they receive. Our providers (a few big names include Time Warner Cable and Comcast) generally decide what programming the consumer receives, with a basic 14-channel lineup costing around $8.00 a month (here in NY) and a full 70-odd channel package costing around $30.00. Providers generally include local stations in their packages, and I've already mentioned digital, of course. The Federal Communications Commission's censoring ability only reaches as far as blatantly profane and obscene coverage and they do not censor opinions and viewpoints.
Oh, yes, and we have satellite available as well.
So how was that show about a dirty bomb exploding in London?

Blogger Kevin: It's also good to note that the major U.S. networks (the big three being ABC, CBS, and NBC, but also including WB (Warner Brothers), UPN (Owned by Viacom, I believe), and TBS, probably among others) syndicate their programming to local stations - in other words, nationwide they generally offer the same content at the same time except the local stations have their own time slots and their own commercial times.

Blogger Fin: It all sounds rather evil to me. Big conglomerates like that shouldn't have that kind of power; it's totally open to abuse.

I feel kind of lucky to be able to turn on a channel (i.e. BBC) and know that it isn't driven commecially in any way, that I will never see an advert for a commercial product, and still see decent telly.

Te 'Dirty War' programme was really good. One of the excellent things about the BBC is that they aren't loosing out commercially if they use their airtime for a forum type show, which is what we got. It discussed the programme with many good points from the public, and not from the BBC.

Did you know that the USA govt. spends 15 times what we do on national security per head. I was a tad angry about that...

Blogger Kevin: Probably pays for the surveillance cameras and wiretaps.

Blogger Kevin: And I meant "on which frequencies they broadcast" not "which frequencies they receive."


Blogger Contraceptacon: The TV situation here in the US is crap. I've given up on watching anything except Dawsons Creek re-runs and BBC News on PBS. The BBC seem to paint a clearer picture of what is going on in the US than the big 3(NBC,ABC,CBS) do. That in itself is pretty sad.

Blogger Alanah: Oh I miss England (that's not sarcasm, I really do!)

Blogger Fin: lol

Blogger Brian: Thanks for your compliment.

BBC World is not really available here in the US. Though some many PBS (public television) stations do run BBC World news broadcasts once or twice a day.

As far as a regular broadcast stream, it's BBC America that's mostly available over here. Unfortunately, aside from news bulletins, they run mostly light shows like comedies, gardening shows and other fluff. It's really pretty disappointing.


Blogger Emily: As of the main stream media in the US, Fox News is the best news channel, other channels (such as MSNBC and CNN) have a left wing bias that I can't stand.

Blogger pirate_freak: why is everyone in here so smart??? i gess i is tu stoopit fer yoo peepil..........

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