Thursday, 23 April 2009
The Broadcasting Act 1990 is a law of the British parliament, often regarded by both its supporters and its critics as a quintessential example of Thatcherism.The aim of the Act was to reform the entire structure of British broadcasting; British television, in particular, had earlier been described by Margaret Thatcher as "the last bastion of restrictive practices". It led directly to the abolition of the Independent Broadcasting Authority and its replacement with the Independent Television Commission and Radio Authority (both themselves now replaced by Ofcom), which were given the remit of regulating with a "lighter touch" and did not have such strong powers as the IBA; some referred to this as "deregulation". The ITC also began regulating non-terrestrial channels, whereas the IBA had only regulated ITV, Channel 4 and the ill-fated British Satellite Broadcasting; the ITC thus took over the responsibilities of the Cable Authority which had regulated the early non-terrestrial channels, which were only available to a very small audience in the 1980s.An effect of this Act was that, in the letter of the law, the television or radio companies rather than the regulator became the broadcasters, as had been the case in the early (1955-1964) era of the Independent Television Authority when it had fewer regulatory powers than it would later assume.In television, the Act allowed for the creation of a fifth analogue terrestrial television channel in the UK, which turned out to be Channel 5, now renamed Five, and the growth of multichannel satellite television. It also stipulated that the BBC, which had traditionally produced the vast majority of its television programming in-house, was now obliged to source at least 25% of its output from independent production companies.The act has sometimes been described, both as praise and as criticism, as a key enabling force for Rupert Murdoch's ambitions in Britain. It reformed the system of awarding ITV franchises, which would prove controversial when Thames Television was replaced by Carlton Television, for what some felt were political reasons, and when TV-am, admired by Mrs Thatcher for its management's defiance of the trade unions, lost its franchise to GMTV (the by then former Prime Minister personally apologised to the senior TV-am executive Bruce Gyngell). It also allowed for companies holding ITV franchises to take over other such companies from 1994, beginning the process which has led to the creation of ITV plc.
The Hutton Inquiry was a British judicial inquiry chaired by Lord Hutton, appointed by the United Kingdom Labour government with the terms of reference "...urgently to conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr David Kelly".
Kelly had been the source for reports made by three BBC journalists that the Government, particularly the press office of Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, had knowingly embellished the dossier with misleading exaggerations of Iraq's military capabilities; specifically, a claim that Iraq had the ability to launch a strike using "weapons of mass destruction" within 45-minutes. These were reported by Andrew Gilligan on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on 29 May 2003, by Gavin Hewitt on the Ten O'Clock News the same day and by Susan Watts on BBC Two's Newsnight on 2 June. On 1 June Gilligan repeated his allegations in an article written for The Mail on Sunday, naming government press secretary Alastair Campbell as the driving force for alteration of the dossier.
The Government angrily denounced the reports and accused the corporation of poor journalism. In subsequent weeks the corporation stood by the report, saying that it had a reliable source. Following intense media speculation, Kelly was finally named in the press as the source for Gilligan's story on 9 July. Kelly apparently committed suicide in a field close to his home on 17 July. An inquiry was announced by the British government the following day. The inquiry was to investigate "the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr Kelly".On 18 July 2003, Kelly, an employee of the Ministry of Defence, was found dead after he had been named as the source of quotes used by BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan. These quotes had formed the basis of media reports claiming that Tony Blair's Labour government had knowingly "sexed up" the "September Dossier", a report into Iraq and weapons of mass destruction.
The inquiry opened in August 2003 and reported on 28 January 2004. The inquiry report cleared the government of wrongdoing, while the BBC was strongly criticised, leading to the resignation of the BBC's chairman and director-general. The report was met with criticism by British newspapers opposed to the Iraq invasion, such as The Guardian and the Daily Mail, though others said it exposed serious flaws within the BBC
The inquiry heard evidence on 22 days, lasting 110 hours, from 74 witnesses
The main conclusions were:
There was "no underhand [government] strategy" to name him as the source for the BBC's accusations
Gilligan's original accusation was "unfounded" and the BBC's editorial and management processes were "defective"
The dossier had not been "sexed up", but was in line with available intelligence, although the Joint Intelligence Committee, chaired by John Scarlett, may have been "subconsciously influenced" by the government
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) was at fault for not informing Kelly of its strategy that would involve naming him
Despite this evidence, Hutton's report largely cleared the government of any wrongdoing. In large measure this was because evidence to the Inquiry indicated that the government had not known of the reservations in the intelligence community: it seemed they had been discounted by senior intelligence assessors (the Joint Intelligence Committee) — thus Gilligan's claim that the government "probably knew" the intelligence was flawed, was itself unfounded. Furthermore, the Inquiry had heard that these were not the words used by Gilligan's source, but his own inference. Meanwhile, Hutton determined that any failure of intelligence assessment fell outside his remit, and the Intelligence Services thus also escaped censure.
Instead the report placed a great deal of emphasis on evidence of the failings of Gilligan and the BBC, many of which had been explicitly acknowledged during the course of the Inquiry. Gilligan, for example, admitted and apologised for surreptitiously briefing politicians on a select committee in order to put pressure on Kelly. Gilligan, whilst disagreeing with the overall thrust of the report, also admitted that he had attributed inferences to Kelly which were in fact his own.
The Inquiry specifically criticised the chain of management that caused the BBC to defend its story. The BBC management, the report said, had accepted Gilligan's word that his story was accurate, in spite of his notes being incomplete.
2 days before, Brand and his guest co-presenter Jonathan Ross record his show. They joke about Andrew Sachs and his granddaughter and leave messages on his voicemail. In one message, Ross blurts out "he f***ed your granddaughter"The producer said Sach gave his consent to broadcast, Sach said he demurred. Both said the consent needed toning down.
When the show was broadcasted between 9 and 11pm, on the Saturday and it opened with a warning that it contains strong language which some listeners may find offensive.
The day after, there were 2 complaints about the programme. One referring directly to the material about Mr Sachs. On Wednesday, Sach's agent Meg Pool was alerted to the contents of the broadcast when a journalist for the Mail On Sunday phones her for a comment.
She and Sachs listen to an online recording of the show which leaves the actor "offended very much indeed".
On the Sunday, the Mail On Sunday reports that "the BBC could face prosecution over obscene phone calls" to Sachs.The BBC says it is "not aware of receiving a complaint from Mr Sachs".By Monday, the story rises up the news agenda, and the BBC says it has received a further 1,585 complaints about the show. A BBC Radio 2 spokeswoman apologises to Sachs. Jonathan Ross also sends a personal apology.
By Tuesday, complaints had risen up to 4,772. Ofcom announces an investigation into the show, saying all BBc broadcasters must adhere to its broadcasting code. The code says broadcasters "must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context." By the end of the day, the total amounts of complaints passes 10,000.
The next day, 8000 more complaints.
BBC director general Mark Thompson announces that both Ross and Brand have been suspended while an investigation into the incident is carried out.
Jonathan Ross publicly apologises for the incident, saying he "greatly regrets" the upset and distress caused. Russell Brand announces he intends to quit his Saturday evening Radio 2 show. He apologises to Andrew Sachs for the comments, and to his Radio 2 listeners.
By the end of the day complaints passes 27,000.
Thursday the 30th of October and the complaints stands at 30,500.
In an interview for BBC Radio Ulster's Across The Line, Noel Gallagher - Oasis guitarist and frequent guest on Russell Brand's show - defends the comedian."It's so typical of the English in general - 10,000 people get outraged, but only five days after it has happened," he said.
Lesley Douglas resigns.
Jonathan Ross is suspended for 12 weeks without pay, the BBC announces.
The complaints stand at 37,500.
David Barber resigns.
Friday the 3rd of April. Ofcom fines the BBC £150,000 over the calls made to Sachs.The media regulator said the fine reflected "the extraordinary nature and seriousness of the BBC's failures" and the "resulting breaches" of its code.The BBC said it accepted Ofcom's findings and added that the material "should never have been broadcast".
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
in 1986, the thatcher government established a committee chaired by professor Alan Peacock,an economist, to look into the future funding of the BBC. Pressure from the avertising industry for new broadcast outlets, and an application from te BBC for a 41% increase in the lisence fee (not granted) were among te factors that le to a drive in some political quarters for the BBC to take advertising. Indeed, it was expected that Peacock would recommend this.
indeed, among te Peacock report's main recommendations were:
- No advertising on te BBC
- The eventual replacement of te lisence fee with subscription;
- improvements in the efficiency of resourse allocation in broadcasting;
- The BBC and ITV to increase the proportion of programmes from independent producers to 40%
- The ITV franchises to be put to competitive tender;
- Channel 4 to sell its own advertising
It is ironic tat, although Peacock was set up to consider te funding of BBC television services,few of its main recomendations involved te BBC! Furthermore, the consequences of Peacock were to be felt primarily in the commercialsetor, wit many of its proposals influencing te subsequent reshaping of the financial, organisational and regulatory structures of commersial broadcasting.
A number of Peacocks recomendations, albeit in a modified form, appeared in te government White Paper, broacasting in the 90s; competotopm, coice and quality, wic waas published in 1988 and paved te way for a new broadcasting bill that, after extensive parliamentary debate, recieved Royal Assent in November 1990.
Section 1: Family Viewing Policy, Offence to Good Taste and Decency, Portrayal of Violence and Respect for Human Dignity
Section (1) of the Broadcasting Act 1990 requires that the ITC does all it can to secure that every licensed service includes nothing in its programmes which offends against good taste or decency or is likely to encourage or incite to crime or lead to disorder or be offensive to public feeling.
Section 2: Privacy, Gathering of Information, etc.
The principles of the right to respect for private and family life and the right to freedom of expression are reflected in Article 8 and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, incorporated into UK law in the Human Rights Act 1998. As a public authority, the ITC must seek to ensure that the guidance given throughout this Code is consistent with Convention principles.
Section 3: Impartiality
As stated in the Foreword, the Broadcasting Act 1990 makes it the statutory duty of the ITC to draw up, and from time to time review, a code giving guidance as to the rules to be observed for the purpose of preserving due impartiality on the part of licensees as respects matters of political or industrial controversy or relating to current public policy. The Impartiality Code relates specifically to Section 6(1)(c) of the Act and is drawn up in accordance with Section (3), (5) and (6). It is published under Section (7).
For ease of reference, guidelines relating to the requirement under Section 6(1)(b) that news be presented with due accuracy and impartiality and the requirement under Section 6(4) relating to the views and opinions of persons providing a licensed service are also incorporated here. These are based on the ITC's code making powers under Section 7(1)(c) of the Act as well as those deriving from Section 6(3). Section 47 of the Act allows the ITC to substitute for Section 6(1)(c) a modified requirement in respect of local licensable programme services. Guidance is given in Section 3.8 of the Code.
This section refers mainly to programmes covered by the impartiality requirements: i.e. those dealing with matters of political or industrial controversy, and current public policy. The only exceptions to this are in relation to news (3.4), where the due accuracy requirement relates to news on all topics, and to appearances by politicians and other political activists.
Section 4: Party Political and Parliamentary Broadcasting
the Broadcasting Act 1990 requires the ITC to ensure that Party Political Broadcasts (PPBs) are included in the regional Channel 3 (ITV), Channel 4 and Channel 5 services. This section of the Code reflects the rules which the ITC has determined in accordance with the Act. Within the terms of these rules, the precise allocation of broadcasts is the responsibility of licensees. Unresolved disputes between licensees and any political party, as to the length, frequency, allocation or scheduling of broadcasts, should be referred by the party or the licensee to the ITC.
Section 5: Terrorism, Crime, Anti-Social Behaviour, etc
Any programme item which on any reasonable judgement would be said to encourage or incite crime or to lead to disorder is unacceptable.
Section 6: Charitable Appeals and Publicity for Charities
Under Section 7(1)(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1990 the ITC is required to give guidance as to the rules to be observed with respect to appeals for donations. Licensees should also refer to The Charities Act (Appendix 4).
Section 7: Religion
This section applies both to programmes specifically categorised as religious and, where appropriate, to general programmes which deal with religious matters.
Section 8: Commercial References in Programmes
Commercial products or services must not be promoted within programmes
Sunday, 19 April 2009
The British Broadcasting Company as the BBC was originally called was formed in October 1922.By 1925 the BBC could be heard throughout most of the UKJohn Reith was the biggest influence as he envisaged an independent British Broadcaster able to educate, inform & entertain the whole nation, free from political interference and commerical pressure.
The newspaper industry sucessfully kept the BBC out of the news business.
The General Stirke of 1926 brought the BBC its first serious confrontation with the Government over editorial independence. With no regular newspapers being published, the country turned to the BBC for its news.
The BBC soon outgrew Savoy Hill and moved into the world's first purpose-built radio production centre- Broadcasting House in Portland Place- in 1932.
Also, in the same year the BBC broadened its horizons with the opening of the Empire Service, the forerunner of the BBC World Service.
On the 2nd of November 1936, the BBC opened the world's first regular service of high0definition television from Alexandra Palace in North London.
The BBC emerged from the war with an enhanced reputation for honesty and accuracy in its news broadcasts. By the end of the war, the BBC was broadcasting in 40 languages.
By the 1960s, the BBC had a little competition from ITV.
BBC Two was launched in 1964 and Radio 1 began in 1967.
Colour television broadcasts began on BBC Two in 1967, followed by BBC One in 1969. Within 10 years there would be 12 million colour licences in the UK.
The 1970s was the Golden Age of television!Income grew as more and more homes brought television licences and more switched to colour. This meant that schedules were able to offer greater depth and variety.
As well as entertaining and informing, the BBC addressed its educational remit. This deacade saw the launch of BBC's collaboration with the Open University.
The CEEFAX text service was introduced in 1972 and subtitling began in 1979.
The 80s was the decade of the Falkland's War, the miners' strike, the Wedding of the Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer and the arrival of Eastenders and Neighbour's.
Eastenders quickly became the most watched BBC programme on television. It still regulalry attracts over 12 million viewers.
Competitive pressure and political pressure grew on the BBC as Channel 4 went on air in 1982, more commercial radio stations opened and satellite television services were launched.
The arrival of digital technology and the internet during the 1990s marked a new era in broadcasting.For the viewers- Digital television offered more channels and wider interactivityFor the listener- digital radio provided CD quality sound and flexibility of sevice.
BBC online was one of the leading wedsites in Europe by the end of 1999.
The end of the decade saw a number of groundbreaking sciene and natural history programmes- in particular "The Human Body" and "Walking with Dinosaurs".
Huge audiences watched a "Panorama" interview with Diana, Princess of Wales, in which she spoke frankly about her crumbling marriage and the expressions of grief at her death in 1997 took the BBC by surprise.
Other innovations in the 90s included the "Teletubbies" and "Tweenies" for children, and the launch of BBC News 24.
Following ITV's decision to drop "News At Ten", the BBC's evening bulletin moved to 10pm.
"The Weakest Link" presented by Anne Robinson was an instant success and the format was quickly exported to other countries. In children's television "Teletubbies" was sold to over 75 countries and translated into 45 languages.
Digital expansion followed with the launch of BBC Four, Cbeebies, CBBC and BBC Three.
Radio 4 made history when it devoted 8 hours on Boxing Day to read "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone"The arrival of digital services in 2002 marked the largest expansion of raio in the BBC's history. Services such as 1Xtra, 5 Live, Sports Extra, 6 Music and BBC 7 were launched and World Service was made available to domestic listeners by popular demand!
In 2007 the BBC launched iPlayer.