The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) is a British public service broadcaster headquartered at Broadcasting House in London. Originally established in 1922 as the British Broadcasting Company, it evolved into its current state with its current name on New Year's Day 1927. The oldest and largest local and global broadcaster by stature and by number of employees, the BBC employs over 21,000 staff in total, of whom approximately 17,900 are in public-sector broadcasting.
- Incorporation and Objects: 6. The BBC's Mission
The Mission of the BBC is to act in the public interest, serving all audiences through the provision of impartial, high-quality and distinctive output and services which inform, educate and entertain.
Relations with the UK government
- The notion that the BBC is independent of the government of the day is one of those quaint constitutional myths by which Britain is governed, like the doctrine of ministerial accountability or the notion that no tawdry political thought ever crosses the mind of the Attorney-General. It is true that the Home Secretary (or, nowadays, the Heritage Secretary) does not park his tanks on the Director General's lawn. But then he doesn't need to. After all, the government chooses the Governors of the BBC and, through the licence fee, sets its income.
World War II
- To-day's "twenty-firster" of the BBC was a cause of royal and general congratulation. The day will bring not increased liberty, but greater wartime burdens. Yet that "key of the door" feeling might break in and increase the liberties allowed by the Corporation to its speakers. Now fully adult itself, it should treat the public as adult when arranging discussions on enormous topics of the hour and eternity. The dread of shocking somebody with unusual or unpopular points of view has been the Corporation's constant bane. People who are capable of being shocked by the Beitish Broadcasting Corporationdeserve only a niche in the British Museum.
- "Editorial: Twenty-One To-day", The Observer (14 November 1943), p. 4
- The age of majority in the UK was then 21.
- The Second World War is often regarded as the BBC's finest hour. It certainly strengthened the position of 'the wireless' in national life. In no other major war can people's experience have been so pervasively mediated, and at the same time made bearable, by listening to the radio, while the BBC's international wartime role enormously enhanced its reputation around the world.
- Two years ago the Pilkington Committee—a team of 11 led by Sir Harry Pilkington—was appointed by the Government to judge the quality of the television & radio services provided by the non-profitmaking B.B.C. & the commercial Independent Television Authority. The result is: praise for the B.B.C. & criticism of the I.T.A. as being more interested in gathering the profits of advertising time than first rate entertainment. The Committee recommended a third television service run by B.B.C., colour television, & a switch from the 405 line picture to the 625 international standard.
Broadcasts and services
National events in the UK
- In the Last Night of the Proms, [Sir Malcolm] Sargent had bequeathed to the BBC a Janus-faced legacy: in one guise, an iconic national 'tradition' with which the bureaucrats and administrators would tamper at their peril; in another, an embarrassing anachronism which was urgently in need of a makeover. Either way, the result has been that in the forty years since Sargent's death, the issue of what the BBC should 'do' with or to the Last Night has been impossible to avoid, yet also very difficult to deal with. To many, the arguments in favour of change have been and still are overwhelming. The flag-waving of Sargent's Last Night seems to many to be at best an uncomfortable and inappropriate display of deluded and escapist nostalgia, and at worst to pander to the xenophobia and racism of football hooligans and the far right. Meanwhile, and as planned and developed by successive BBC controllers of music, the Proms themselves have become more cosmopolitan and internationalist (with many orchestras and conductors from overseas), more innovative and experimental (with new works commissioned, late night concerts, and an unprecedented range of early and contemporary music), and use more varied locations (among them the Roundhouse, Covent Garden and Westminster Cathedral in addition to the Albert Hall). This in turn means that in recent decades the Last Night has become increasingly detached, both from the country's contemporary circumstances and from the Promenade Concerts as a whole; and when it is beamed and broadcast around the world, it conveys a deeply misleading impression and image of both.
- One of the problems of working for BBC World Service programmes like Newshour is that no one in Britain listens to them. That’s not strictly true. If you broadcast at night you discover that there are a surprisingly large number of insomniacs around with their radios on throughout the night. ...
- On the World Service you are broadcasting in a vacuum. Newshour's audience is huge – something like twenty million – but we'd never know it. Interviews are broadcast and, bar the Toronto Somali and his like, that's the last you hear of them. It's probably no bad thing. The media are famously self-obsessed and there are noticeably fewer prima donnas in Bush House than in other parts of the business. The most famous praise for the World Service in recent times came from Mikhail Gorbachev at the time of the failed coup and from the Beirut hostages on their release. This all went down very well in Bush House with staff talking of how the battles with their bio-rhythms were at last receiving public acknowledgment. But even then there was a nagging doubt. After all, neither Gorbachev nor the hostages were in much of a position to choose what they listened to. Could it be that people have to be chained to a wall before acknowledging the World Service?