The BBC, also known affectionately as ‘The Beeb’ is the British Broadcasting Corporation, founded back in the 1920s. It broadcasts Radio and Television locally, nationally and globally. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House at Langham Place, just north of Oxford Circus in London’s West End.
Across Britain it broadcasts forty local radio stations that take their name from the area they serve… ‘BBC Oxford’, ‘BBC Essex’ and so on. Whilst fairly staid they’re reliable sources of information in the event of bad weather – reporting school closures in the event of heavy snow and so on.
The BBC is funded, for the most part by an annual Licence Fee. This is compulsory and costs over a hundred and thirty pounds, while this tends to be unpopular, it ensures the BBC remains independent of outside influence from advertisers and so on, and means that Brits have some sense of ownership.
Nationally there are five radio stations, numbered 1 through 5, that broadcast on traditional FM frequencies with a further five broadcast through DAB Digital Radio, Digital TV and internet streaming.
The BBC’s Radio Channels are :
Radio 1: broadcasts contemporary pop and rock music – aimed at a youth market – under 25 for the most part.
Radio 2: aimed at the over twenty fives, broadcasts a broad spectrum of music, it’s the most popular of the stations and some of the broadcasters – such as Sir Terry Wogan – are national intuitions.
Radio 3: classical music and high brow arts.
Radio 4: news and current affairs.
Radio 5 Live: News and Sports.
The BBC’s Digital Only (DAB) Channels are:
1Xtra: urban music.
Radio 5 Live Sports Extra: additional sports events coverage.
6 Music: less mainstream music, rock, punk and reggae, plus older concert performances from the BBC’s archives.
Radio 7: classic comedy and drama, again culled from the BBC’s extensive sound archives.
Asian Network: as the name suggests, a radio network aimed at Britain’s sizeable population of people of Asian extraction – the Brit equivalent of a Latino radio station in California or Florida.
The BBC’s Television Channels are :
- BBC 1 – the mainstream channel that broadcasts BBC News, entertainment, game shows, soap operas etc.
BBC1 is also broadcast in high definition (HD)
- BBC 2 – slightly more upmarket, broadcasts more documentaries and arts programmes than BBC1
BBC2 is also broadcast in high definition (HD)
- BBC 3 – mainly youth oriented, new comedy shows and so on.
- BBC 4 – even more highbrow than BBC2 showing specialist documentaries and serious drama.
- BBC News – 24 hour rolling news coverage
- BBC Parliament – dedicated politics channel
- CBBC – Children’s programmes, aimed at the over sixes.
- CBeebies – Children’s channel for the under sixes.
In 2015 the BBC started a consultation process, through its governing body the ‘BBC Trust’, to migrate BBC3 to an online only channel, using the freed bandwidth to provide a ‘BBC+1’ channel that would rebroadcast BBC1 content delayed by one hour, much as other TV channels do.
Between 1960 and 2013 the BBC used to broadcast its TV stations from ‘Televison Centre’ in Shepherds Bush, West London. The distinctive building was sold to developers for a reputed £200 million in 2012, the building is now being ‘repurposed’ into housing, office space and hotels.
BBC Radio and Television News are now broadcast from the enlarged Broadcasting House, other programmes – including their popular Breakfast programme – are produced at the BBC’s campus at “Media City” in Salford, near Manchester, while other programmes are produced at Elstree and Cardiff.