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Television in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
started in 1936 as a public service which was free of advertising. Currently, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
has a collection of free-to-air, free-to-view and subscription services over a variety of distribution media, through which there are over 480 channels[nb 1] for consumers as well as on-demand content. There are six main channel owners who are responsible for most viewing. There are 27,000 hours of domestic content produced a year at a cost of £2.6 billion.[nb 2] Since 24 October 2012, all television broadcasts in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
are in a digital format, following the end of analogue transmissions in Northern Ireland. Digital content is delivered via terrestrial, satellite and cable as well as over IP.

Contents

1 Broadcast television providers

1.1 Digital terrestrial television 1.2 Cable television 1.3 Satellite
Satellite
television

2 Internet
Internet
video services

2.1 Catch-up services 2.2 Online video services for professionally-produced content

3 Channels and channel owners

3.1 Viewing statistics

3.1.1 Most viewed channels 3.1.2 Most viewed channel groups

3.2 British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) 3.3 Independent Television (ITV) 3.4 Channel 4 3.5 Viacom 3.6 Local television in the United Kingdom 3.7 Sky 3.8 UKTV

4 Programming

4.1 100 Greatest British Television Programmes 4.2 100 Greatest TV Moments 4.3 List of most watched television broadcasts 4.4 Genre lists

4.4.1 100 Greatest Kids' TV shows 4.4.2 British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series

4.5 Terrestrial channel programming

4.5.1 Weekday 4.5.2 Weekend

5 Cultural impact

5.1 Christian morality

6 Awards 7 Regulation 8 Licensing 9 Production

9.1 In-house production 9.2 Independent production

10 History

10.1 Timeline 10.2 Closed and aborted television providers

10.2.1 Analogue terrestrial television

10.3 Defunct channels 10.4 Commentary

10.4.1 The rise of television in the UK 10.4.2 History of satellite television

11 See also

11.1 Industry bodies 11.2 Genres and programming 11.3 Miscellaneous

12 Notes 13 References 14 External links

Broadcast television providers[edit] Free-to-air, free-to-view and subscription providers are available, with differences in the number of channels, capabilities such as the programme guide (EPG), video on demand (VOD), high-definition (HD), interactive television via the red button, and coverage across the UK. The UK's five most watched channels, BBC
BBC
One, BBC
BBC
Two, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, are available from all providers. Broadcast television is distributed as radio waves via terrestrial or satellite transmissions, or as electrical or light signals through ground-based cables. In the UK, these use the Digital Video Broadcasting standard. Most TVs sold in the UK come with a DVB-T (terrestrial) tuner for Freeview – a rare thing in Europe[citation needed]. Set-top boxes are generally used to receive channels from other providers. Most services have also integrated their broadcast TV services with additional video streams distributed via the Internet, or through their own Internet Protocol
Internet Protocol
network.

Provider Years Free or pay No. broadcast channels Households On demand Notes

Terrestrial

Freeview 2002– Free 50+ (TV) 24 (radio) 19,200,000[1] Q4 2012 Yes Catch-up TV available via Freeview Play
Freeview Play
devices

Sure TV 2013– Broadcast: Free IPTV: Pay Broadcast: As Freeview Unknown Yes Hybrid Freeview + pay TV service. Guernsey, Jersey and Isle of Man only

YouView Unknown Broadcast/catch-up: Free IPTV: Pay Broadcast: As Freeview Unknown Yes Hybrid Freeview and catch-up service Optional pay services via BT TV, TalkTalk TV
TalkTalk TV
or Plusnet broadband

Satellite

Freesat 2008– Free 115 (TV) 38 (radio)[nb 3] 2,100,000[1] Q4 2012 Yes

Freesat
Freesat
from Sky 1998– Free + PPV 240+ (TV) 80+ (radio)[2] 597,000[3][nb 4] Q4 2008 No

Sky 1998– Pay 400+ (TV) 160+ (radio) 11,245,000[4] September 2014 Yes

Cable

Virgin Media 2006– Pay 250+ (TV)[5] 35+ (radio) 3,780,000 April 2013 Yes

Digital terrestrial television[edit]

Chimney-mounted Yagi-Uda antennae, more commonly known as aerials, used for receiving terrestrial television.

Main article: Digital terrestrial television in the United Kingdom See also: List of DTT channels in the United Kingdom Digital terrestrial television launched in 1998 as a subscription service named ONdigital. Since October 2002, the primary broadcaster is Freeview, which is free of charge to view. YouView
YouView
is also distinctly marketed although it provides the same free channels as Freeview as it uses the same transmitter network. The TV channels are transmitted in bundles, called multiplexes, and the available channels are dependent on how many multiplexes are transmitted in each area. 3 multiplexes, carrying channels from BBC, ITV, Channel 4, S4C, Channel 5 as well as radio, are available to 98.5% of the population from 1,154 transmitters. A further 3 multiplexes transmit to 90% of homes from 80 transmitters, and another 2 multiplexes are available to 76% of homes from 30 transmitters. The terrestrial service consisting of just the 3 public service multiplexes, available to 8.5% of the population, is informally called 'Freeview Light' by some websites. In Northern Ireland, a multiplex carrying channels from the Republic of Ireland is available to 90% of Northern Irish homes from 3 transmitters. Local TV and radio is available from an additional multiplex at 42 transmitters. [6][7][8] Catch-up TV services such as BBC iPlayer
BBC iPlayer
are available via the broadband connection of both Freeview and YouView
YouView
receivers. On YouView, subscription TV services from BT, TalkTalk, Plusnet, and global streaming services can also be received via the broadband connection. SureTV is a similar service in Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man. Cable television[edit]

A pavement dug up revealing the cables underneath. The green box is a common sight in areas with cable coverage, as are manhole covers enscribed with CATV.

See also: Cable television
Cable television
by region § United Kingdom There were many regional companies when cable television services were developed in the late 1980s and 1990s. Today they have amalgamated to become Virgin Media, which is available to 55% of households[9]. Cable TV is a subscription service normally bundled with a phone line and broadband. WightFibre operates on the Isle of Wight, however acts as a distributor for Sky and YouView
YouView
instead of having an integrated TV service.[10]

Satellite
Satellite
television[edit]

Satellite
Satellite
dishes on a wall in Hackney, London. The small oval dishes are most likely being used for viewing British services, and are known as Minidishes. The larger dishes are most likely being used for viewing satellite services from outside the UK.

See also: Satellite
Satellite
television by region §  United Kingdom
United Kingdom
and Ireland, and List of free-to-air channels at 28°E There are three distinctly marketed direct-broadcast satellite (DBS) services (also known as direct-to-home (DTH), to be distinguished from satellite signals intended for non-consumer reception). Sky TV is a subscription service owned by Sky plc, which launched in 1998 as SkyDigital. Compared to the previous analogue service, it provided more channels, widescreen, interactive TV and a near video on demand service using staggered start times for pay-per-view content. Innovations since have included high definition, 3d TV, a digital video recorder, the ability to view recordings on other devices, remote operation via the Internet
Internet
to add recordings, and on demand content via the satellite receiver's broadband connection of both Sky and 3rd party TV. The Sky subscription also includes access to Sky Go, which allows mobile devices and computers to access subscription content via the Internet. Freesat
Freesat
from Sky, is a free satellite service owned by Sky plc. Existing Sky TV customers can end their ongoing subscriptions, and opt for the Free-To-View viewing card, giving them the Freesat
Freesat
from Sky service. Freesat
Freesat
from Sky does not provide digital recording or video on demand. Freesat
Freesat
from Sky has more channels than Freesat, which are mostly international or shopping channels. The on-screen programme guide lists subscription channels even thought they can't be viewed. Freesat
Freesat
is a free satellite service created jointly by the BBC
BBC
and ITV. In contrast to Freesat
Freesat
from Sky, it does not need a viewing card. Like Sky, it provides high definition content, digital recording and video on demand via the broadband connection. The on-screen programme guide lists the available channels, rather than encrypted channels which need a subscription to view.

¼ scale mockup of the Eutelsat 28A satellite, a Spacebus 3000B2 manufactured by Alcatel Space

Freesat, Freesat
Freesat
from Sky and Sky TV transmit from SES Astra satellites at 28.2° east (Astra 2E/2F/2G). As the satellites are in geostationary orbit, they are positioned above the earth's equator(0°00′N 28°12′E / 0°N 28.2°E / 0; 28.2 (Satellites transmitting Sky TV, Freesat
Freesat
and Freesat
Freesat
from Sky to the UK and Ireland)) approximately 35,786 km above mean sea level; this places them above the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Internet
Internet
video services[edit] See also: IPTV, Internet
Internet
television, List of Internet
Internet
television providers, Mobile TV, and Category: Internet
Internet
television

Broadband TV services are often distributed via copper telephone lines

TV via the Internet
Internet
can be streamed or downloaded, and consist of amateur or professionally produced content. In the UK, most broadcasters provide catch-up TV services which allow viewing of TV for a window after it was broadcast. Online video can be viewed via mobile devices, computers, TVs equipped with a built in Internet connection, or TVs connected to an external set-top-box, streaming stick or games console. Most of the broadcast TV providers have integrated their set-top-boxes with Internet
Internet
video to provide a hybrid broadcast and online service. Catch-up services[edit] Since 2006, UK channel owners and content producers have been creating Internet
Internet
services to access their programmes. Often, these are available for a window after the broadcast schedule. These services generally block users outside of the UK.

Service name Owner Broadcast channels with catch-up Catch-up period Additional content Streamed Download Free/Pay Site

All 4 Channel Four Television Corporation Channel 4, E4, More4, 4seven, 4Music 30 days Yes Yes Yes Free [11]

BBC
BBC
iPlayer BBC BBC
BBC
channels, S4C 30 days Yes Yes Yes Free [12]

Clic S4C S4C 7 days No Yes No Free [13]

ITV Hub ITV plc ITV, ITV2-4, ITVBe, CITV 30 days No Yes With subscription Streaming: Free Optional subscription [14]

My5 Viacom
Viacom
International Media Networks Europe Channel 5, 5USA, 5STAR, 5Spike 30 days Yes Yes No Free [15]

Sky Go Sky UK Up to 65 channels[16] Unknown Box sets with additional subscription Yes With additional subscription Subscription [17]

STV Player STV Group STV, STV2 30 days No Yes No Free [18]

UKTV
UKTV
Play UKTV
UKTV
Media Dave, Really, Yesterday, Drama 30 days Yes Yes No Free [19]

Online video services for professionally-produced content[edit] There are numerous online services targeting the UK, offering a combination of subscription, rental and purchase options for viewing online TV. Most are available via any Internet
Internet
connection, however some require a specific broadband connection. Some services sell 3rd party services, such as Amazon's Prime Video. For brevity, the following table does not include catch-up-only or amateur-only services, individual channels, distributors of illegal or adult content, services which solely redistribute free broadcast channels, or services which don't target the UK.

Service Owner Availability On-demand TV Scheduled channels/streams (IP) Downloads UHD Notes

Free Subscription Rental Purchase Free Subscription PPV

All 4 Channel 4
Channel 4
Television Corp Internet Yes No No No Yes No No Yes No

BBC
BBC
iPlayer BBC Internet Yes No No No Yes No No Yes Test content

BT TV BT Group BT Broadband No Yes Yes Yes No Yes Unknown No Unknown

Curzon Home Cinema Curzon Cinemas Internet No No Yes No No No No No Unknown

DisneyLife Disney Internet No Yes No No No Yes No Unknown Unknown

EE TV BT Group EE Broadband No No No No No No No No Unknown On-demand content via 3rd party services

Google Play Google Internet No No Yes Yes No No No Yes Unknown

Hayu NBC Universal Internet No Yes No No No No No No No

iTunes Apple Internet No No Yes Yes No No No Yes Yes

My 5 Viacom
Viacom
Int'l Media Networks Internet Yes No No No No No No Unknown Unknown

Netflix Netflix Internet No Yes No No No No No No Yes

NOW TV Sky UK
Sky UK
Ltd Internet No Yes No No No Yes Unknown Unknown Unknown

Plusnet TV BT Group Plusnet Broadband No No No No No Yes No No No

Prime Video Amazon.com, Inc Internet No Yes Yes Yes No Yes Unknown Yes Yes Streamed channels via 3rd party subscriptions

Sky Go Sky UK
Sky UK
Ltd Internet No Yes No No Yes (Sky News) Yes Unknown Unknown Unknown Subscription fee included in Sky TV (satellite) subscription

Sky Sports
Sky Sports
Mobile Sky UK
Sky UK
Ltd Internet No No No No No Yes No Unknown Unknown

Sky Store Sky UK
Sky UK
Ltd Internet No No Yes Yes No No No Yes Unknown

Talk Talk
Talk
TV Talk Talk
Talk
Group Talk Talk
Talk
Broadband No No Yes Yes No No No Yes Unknown

TV Player Simplestream Internet No Yes No No Yes Yes No No No

UKTV
UKTV
Play UKTV
UKTV
Media Internet Yes No No No No No No No Unknown

YouTube Movies Google Internet No No Yes Yes No No No Yes Unknown

Channels and channel owners[edit] See also: List of British television channels and Category:Television channels in the United Kingdom Viewing statistics[edit] Most viewed channels[edit] The Broadcasters' Audience Research Board
Broadcasters' Audience Research Board
(BARB) measures television ratings in the UK. As of November 2017, the average weekly viewing time per person across all broadcast channels was 24 hours 16 minutes. 12 channels have a share of total viewing time across all channels of ≥ 1.0%. [20]

Broadcast channels with a viewing share of ≥ 1.0%, November 2017[21]

Channel Owner Free/Pay Weekly viewing time per person (hours:minutes) Share of total viewing time (%)

BBC
BBC
1 BBC Free 5:28 22.55

ITV or STV ITV plc
ITV plc
or STV Group Free 3:15 13.38

BBC
BBC
2 BBC Free 1:26 5.91

Channel 4 Channel 4
Channel 4
Television Corp Free 1:10 4.83

Channel 5 Viacom Free 0:54 3.81

ITV HD ITV plc Free 0:46 3.15

ITV 3 ITV plc Free 0:26 1.78

ITV 2 ITV plc Free 0:24 1.66

E4 Channel 4
Channel 4
Television Corp Free 0:18 1.22

Cbeebies BBC Free 0:17 1.17

Drama UKTV
UKTV
Media Free 0:17 1.16

Film4 Channel 4
Channel 4
Television Corp Free 0:16 1.12

Most viewed channel groups[edit] For October 2017, there are 9 channel owners with a total viewing share across their channels of ≥ 1.0% (although BARB has separated Viacom
Viacom
channels into two groups, and it's unclear whether STV Group channels are included with ITV plc
ITV plc
channels)

Channel groups with a viewing share of ≥ 1%, October 2017[22]

Channel owner Share of total viewing time (%) Top 3 channels

BBC 32.27 BBC
BBC
1, BBC
BBC
2, Cbeebies

ITV plc 21.84 ITV, ITV HD, ITV2

Channel 4
Channel 4
Television Corp 10.76 Channel 4, Film4, E4

Sky UK 7.86 Pick, Sky 1, Sky Sports
Sky Sports
Main Event

Viacom: Channel 5 channels 6.39 Channel 5, 5 USA, Spike

UKTV
UKTV
Media 5.35 Drama, Dave, Really

Discovery 2.16 Quest, Quest Red, TLC

Viacom 1.95 Comedy Central, Nick Jr, Nick Jr 2

CBS 1.47 CBS Reality, Horror Channel, CBS Action

CSC Media Group 1.29 True Entertainment, Pop, True Movies

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)[edit] Main article: BBC See also: Category: BBC
BBC
television channels in the United Kingdom

The BBC
BBC
is the world's oldest and largest broadcaster, and is the country's principal public service broadcaster. The BBC
BBC
is funded primarily by a television licence and from sales of its programming to overseas markets. It does not carry advertising. The licence fee is levied on all households that watch or record TV as it's being broadcast[23] and the fee is determined by periodic negotiation between the government and the BBC. Its first analogue terrestrial channel, the BBC
BBC
Television Service, launched in 1936. It rebranded to BBC
BBC
1 in 1964, the same year that BBC
BBC
2 launched, the UK's third analogue terrestrial channel after ITV. Both channels styled as BBC One
BBC One
and BBC Two
BBC Two
from 1997. BBC
BBC
News 24 launched as an analogue cable channel in 1997, later rebranding to BBC News. BBC
BBC
Parliament, which was originally an analogue cable channel known as The Parliamentary Channel, was acquired by the BBC
BBC
in 1998. From 1998 onwards the BBC
BBC
started digital TV transmissions, launching new channels and broadcasting via satellite in addition to terrestrial and cable. BBC
BBC
Three closed as a broadcast channel in 2016, continuing as an Internet
Internet
video service.

Public service channels Commercial channels

Free channels BBC
BBC
One, BBC
BBC
Two, BBC
BBC
Four, BBC
BBC
News, BBC
BBC
Parliament, CBBC, CBeebies, BBC
BBC
Alba, BBC
BBC
Red Button See UKTV
UKTV
for the BBC's jointly owned commercial channels

Subscription channels None

Internet
Internet
TV services BBC
BBC
Three, BBC
BBC
iPlayer

Independent Television (ITV)[edit] Main article: ITV (TV network) See also: Category:ITV franchisees, ITV plc, and List of ITV channels ITV (Independent Television) is the network of fifteen regional commercial television franchises, founded in 1955 to provide competition to the BBC. ITV was the country's first commercial television provider funded by advertisements, and has been the most popular commercial channel through most of its existence. Through a series of mergers, takeovers and relaxation of regulation, thirteen of these companies are now owned by ITV plc; the other two are owned by STV Group. ITV plc, the operator of all English, Welsh, Southern Scotland
Scotland
and Channel Island
Channel Island
franchises, had branded the channel as ITV1 since 2001, with regional names being used prior to regional programmes only since 2002. The ITV name was restored in 2013. ITV plc also operate the Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
franchise under the UTV brand name. STV Group, which operates the two other Scottish franchises, has now unified the regions under the single name of STV. ITV has been officially known as Channel 3 since 1990, although this is seldom used to identify itself. ITV plc
ITV plc
also operates digital channels ITV2, ITV3, ITV4, ITVBe, ITV Encore and CITV, some with HDTV streams. ITN, a subsidiary, currently holds the national news franchise, and ITV Breakfast operates the breakfast franchise.

ITV plc STV Group

Free channels ITV, ITV2, ITV3, ITV4, ITVBe, CITV STV, STV2

Subscription/pay-per-view channels ITV2
ITV2
HD, ITV3
ITV3
HD, ITV4
ITV4
HD, ITV Encore, ITV Box Office None

Internet
Internet
TV Services ITV Hub STV Player

Channel 4[edit] Main article: Channel 4 See also: Channel Four Television Corporation

Launched in 1982, Channel 4
Channel 4
is a state-owned national broadcaster which is funded by its commercial activities (including advertising). Channel 4
Channel 4
has expanded greatly after gaining greater independence from the IBA, especially in the multi-channel digital world launching E4, Film4, More4, 4Music
4Music
and various timeshift services. Since 2005, it has been a member of the Freeview consortium, and operates one of the six digital terrestrial multiplexes with ITV as Digital 3&4. Since the advent of digital television, Channel 4
Channel 4
is now also broadcast in Wales
Wales
across all digital platforms. Channel 4
Channel 4
was the first British channel not to carry regional variations for programming, however it does have 6 set advertising regions. With Bauer Media Group, Channel 4
Channel 4
jointly owns a range of music channels under the Box Plus Network banner.

Channel 4
Channel 4
channels Box Plus Network

Free channels Channel 4, More4, Film4, E4, 4seven The Box, Box Upfront, Box Hits, 4Music, Kiss, Magic, Kerrang!

Subscription/pay-per-view channels None None

Internet
Internet
TV Services All 4 Box Plus Network

Viacom[edit] Main article: Viacom See also: Channel 5 (UK)

Channel 5 was the fifth analogue terrestrial channel to launch, in March 1997. Due to constraints with the available UHF frequencies at the time, many households had to retune their video recorders, which shared the frequency on their RF output with the frequency used by Channel 5's new broadcasts. Channel 5 was the first terrestrial channel to also broadcast via satellite. From 2006 onwards, Channel 5 would launch new digital channels and an Internet
Internet
on-demand service. After changing ownership several times, in May 2014 Channel 5 and its sister channels would be acquired by Viacom, an American media conglomerate.[24] By the time it acquired Channel 5, Viacom
Viacom
already operated a large number of subscription channels in the UK, including the MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central channels, which are available via Sky TV, Virgin Media
Virgin Media
and NOW TV. In terms of viewing share, the combined viewing across Viacom's free and subscription channels make Viacom
Viacom
the UK's fourth largest broadcaster, after BBC, ITV plc
ITV plc
and Channel 4 Corp, according to BARB's viewing figures for January 2018.[25]

Free channels Channel 5, 5Star, 5USA, 5Spike, 5Select

Subscription MTV, VH1, MTV Base, MTV Classic, MTV Dance, MTV Hits, MTV Music, MTV Rocks, Nickelodeon, Nicktoons, Nick Jr., Nick Jr. Too, Comedy Central, Comedy Central Extra, BET

Internet
Internet
TV Services My5

Local television in the United Kingdom[edit] Further information: Local television in the United Kingdom On 18 January 2011, then Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Jeremy Hunt announced his intentions to set up a network of local television stations across the UK. The initial plan was to create a network of local television stations, connected through a national backbone. This plan would create a television network similar to that of the network-affiliate model in the United States and Canada.[26] In June 2011, however, it was announced that the national spine plan would be scrapped, and a 'bottom-up' approach would be followed instead, where stations are individually licensed.[27] Richard Horwood, a former Trinity Mirror
Trinity Mirror
executive, announced that when the local television stations are first licensed, he intends to create a television network called Channel 6; this will be a network of local television stations, with Channel 6 supplying the prime time schedule (similar to the American network-affiliate model).[28] Another operator, which has announced its intentions to set up a network of local television stations with a television network connecting them, is City TV Broadcasting. That company says it is basing its operations on the Citytv
Citytv
television system in Canada, but there does not appear to be any official affiliation with the latter's owner, Rogers Communications. City TV is initially bidding on a station to be based in Birmingham.[29] Sky[edit] Main article: Sky plc See also: Category: Sky plc
Sky plc
television channels Sky operates a satellite television service and numerous television channels including Sky One, Sky Two, Sky News, Pick, Challenge, Sky Atlantic, Sky Living, Real Lives, Sky Arts, Sky Cinema
Sky Cinema
and Sky Sports. UKTV[edit] Main article: UKTV See also: Category: UKTV
UKTV
channels UKTV
UKTV
is a joint venture between the BBC's commercial arm, BBC
BBC
Studios, and Discovery Inc.
Discovery Inc.
Both companies additionally wholly own a number of other channels, broadcast domestically or internationally. Channels under the joint venture are Alibi, Drama, Dave, Eden, Gold, Good Food, Really, Home, W, Yesterday plus a number of timeshift and high-definition services. Programming[edit] British television differs from other countries, such as the United States, in as much that programmes produced in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
do not generally have a long 'season' run of around 20 weeks. Instead, they are produced in a series, a set of episodes varying in length, usually aired over a period of a few months. See List of British television series. 100 Greatest British Television Programmes[edit] Main article: 100 Greatest British Television Programmes 100 Greatest British Television Programmes
100 Greatest British Television Programmes
was a list compiled in 2000 by the British Film Institute
British Film Institute
(BFI), chosen by a poll of industry professionals, to determine what were the greatest British television programmes of any genre ever to have been screened. Although not including any programmes made in 2000 or later, the list is useful as an indication of what were generally regarded as the most successful British programmes of the 20th century. The top 10 programmes are:

Rank Programme Channel Year

1 Fawlty Towers BBC2 1975–1979

2 Cathy Come Home (The Wednesday Play) BBC1 1966

3 Doctor Who BBC1 1963–1989, 1996, 2005–present

4 The Naked Civil Servant ITV 1975

5 Monty Python's Flying Circus BBC2 1969–1974

6 Blue Peter BBC1 1958–present

7 Boys from the Blackstuff BBC2 1982

8 Parkinson BBC1/ITV 1971–1982, 1998–2007

9 Yes Minister
Yes Minister
/ Yes, Prime Minister BBC2 1980–1988

10 Brideshead Revisited ITV 1981

100 Greatest TV Moments[edit] 100 Greatest TV Moments was a list compiled by Channel 4
Channel 4
in 1999. The top 10 entries are:

Rank Programme Channel Year Moment

1 News BBC One
BBC One
/ BBC Two
BBC Two
/ ITV 1969 The Apollo 11
Apollo 11
moon landing

2 News BBC One
BBC One
/ BBC Two
BBC Two
/ ITV 1990 The release of Nelson Mandela

3 News BBC One
BBC One
/ BBC Two
BBC Two
/ ITV 1997 Michael Portillo loses his seat in the general election, which came to symbolise the end of the period of Conservative government which had begun in 1979 with Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
as Prime Minister

4 News BBC One
BBC One
/ BBC Two
BBC Two
/ ITV 1997 The death of Diana, Princess of Wales

5 News BBC One
BBC One
/ BBC Two
BBC Two
/ ITV 1989 The fall of the Berlin Wall

6 1966 FIFA World Cup BBC One
BBC One
/ ITV 1966 Final: England
England
beats Germany 4–2; commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme's quotation "They think it's all over"

7 Only Fools and Horses BBC
BBC
One 1989 "Yuppy Love": Del Boy
Del Boy
falls through a bar flap

8 Live Aid BBC
BBC
One 1985 The multi-venue rock concert to raise funds for the famine of Ethiopia

9 Blackadder Goes Forth BBC
BBC
One 1989 "Goodbyeee": the protagonists go over the top

10 News BBC One
BBC One
/ BBC Two
BBC Two
/ ITV 1963 John F. Kennedy assassination

List of most watched television broadcasts[edit] Main article: List of most watched television broadcasts In 2005, the British Film Institute
British Film Institute
compiled a list of programmes with the biggest audience since 1955. The top 10 are:

Rank Show Episode Number of Viewers Date Network

1 1966 World Cup Final

32.30 million 30 July 1966 BBC
BBC
One

2 Funeral of Princess Diana

32.10 million 6 September 1997 BBC
BBC
One

3 British Royal Family
British Royal Family
(documentary)

30.69 million 1969 BBC1

4 EastEnders Den divorces Angie 30.15 million 25 December 1986 BBC
BBC
One

5 Apollo 13
Apollo 13
Splashdown

28.60 million 17 April 1970 BBC
BBC
One

6 FA Cup Final: Chelsea vs. Leeds

28.49 million 29 April 1970 BBC
BBC
One

7 Royal Wedding of Charles & Diana

28.40 million 29 July 1981 BBC
BBC
One

8 Wedding of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips

27.60 million 14 November 1973 BBC
BBC
One

9 Coronation Street Hilda Ogden
Hilda Ogden
leaves 26.65 million[30] 25 December 1987 ITV

10 2012 Summer Olympics Closing Ceremony

24.46 million 12 August 2012 BBC
BBC
One

Genre lists[edit] 100 Greatest Kids' TV shows[edit] The 100 Greatest Kids' TV shows was a poll conducted by the British television channel Channel 4
Channel 4
in 2001. The top 5 UK-produced programmes are:

Rank Programme Year

1 The Muppet Show 1976–1981

2 Danger Mouse 1981–1992

3 Bagpuss 1974

4 Grange Hill 1978–2008

5 Mr Benn 1971–1972

British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series[edit] Main article: British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series The British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series is one of the major categories of the British Academy Television Awards. The last 5 winners are:

2017: Happy Valley – Red Production Company / BBC
BBC
One 2016: Wolf Hall – Company Pictures
Company Pictures
/ BBC
BBC
Two 2015: Happy Valley – Red Production Company / BBC
BBC
One 2014: Broadchurch
Broadchurch
– Kudos Film & Television / ITV 2013: Last Tango in Halifax
Last Tango in Halifax
BBC
BBC
Television / BBC
BBC
One

Terrestrial channel programming[edit] Weekday[edit] Weekday programming on terrestrial channels begins at 6 am with breakfast national news programmes (along with regional news updates) on BBC One
BBC One
and ITV, with Channel 5. BBC Two
BBC Two
also showed children's programming all morning until the start of 2013. That channel now broadcasts repeats of BBC
BBC
One's daytime programmes. Channel 4 predominately broadcasts comedy and music programmes such as Everybody Loves Raymond and Freshly Squeezed in its morning slot. The weekday breakfast news programme ends at 9:15 am on BBC One
BBC One
and 8:30 am on ITV. Following this on BBC
BBC
One, lifestyle programming is generally shown, including property, auction and home/garden makeover. BBC
BBC
One continues this genre until after the lunchtime news, whereby afternoon has a soap called Doctors followed by dramas currently occupy the schedule. BBC Two
BBC Two
broadcasts repeats of recent BBC One
BBC One
programmes with on-screen signing before airing news and politics programming between 11 am and 1 pm. ITV on the other hand takes over from GMB at 8:30 am, and generally broadcasts more human-interest chat-style shows, including Lorraine, The Jeremy Kyle Show, This Morning and Loose Women, in the morning to mid-afternoon slots, with the ITV Lunchtime News (including a regional bulletin) at 1:30 pm. Channel 4
Channel 4
often shows home-project and archaeology lifestyle programming in the early afternoon after a Channel 4
Channel 4
News summary. Channel 5 broadcasts chatshow programmes in the morning including The Wright Stuff with regular news bulletins followed by the last nights Big Brother (when the show is on air). In the afternoon it shows a drama followed by an hour of Australian soaps such as Home and Away and Neighbours
Neighbours
and a film. Until the end of 2012 BBC One
BBC One
showed children's programmes in the late afternoon but the channel now continues to show lifestyle programming until broadcasting the game show Pointless at 5:15 pm. BBC
BBC
Two used to show lifestyle programming such as Animal Park
Animal Park
in the late afternoon before these programmes were switched to BBC
BBC
One. BBC
BBC
Two now broadcasts repeats unless it is showing sporting events. ITV shows a lifestyle programme followed by a chat show such as The Alan Titchmarsh Show before repeats of classic ITV shows, such as Heartbeat, Poirot
Poirot
and Midsomer Murders
Midsomer Murders
in late-afternoon, before a gameshow-style programme at 5:00 pm, which have included Golden Balls and The Price Is Right. News bulletins are broadcast between 6 pm and 7 pm on both BBC One
BBC One
and ITV, with BBC One
BBC One
beginning with the national BBC
BBC
News at Six and ITV with the flagship regional news programme. At around 18.30, BBC One
BBC One
broadcasts the regional news programmes whilst ITV broadcasts the ITV Evening News. Channel 4
Channel 4
News starts at 7 pm. Primetime programming is usually dominated by further soaps, including Doctors, EastEnders
EastEnders
on BBC
BBC
One, Coronation Street
Coronation Street
and Emmerdale
Emmerdale
on ITV, and Hollyoaks
Hollyoaks
on Channel 4. These soap operas or 'continuing dramas' as they are now called can vary throughout the year, however weekly dramas, such as Holby City, are also fixed to scheduling. Because of this, the UK can often rely more heavily on TV guides, be it with the newspaper, online, via information services on the television such as the BBC
BBC
Red Button service or the built in Electronic Programme Guides. After midnight, when late evening films are shown, many channels cease broadcasting "normal" programming or simulcast with another channel. Before 2000, the channels simply closed down. However, since then programming has been shown continuously. BBC One
BBC One
will join BBC
BBC
News in a multichannel simulcast and BBC Two
BBC Two
shows a continuous loop of forthcoming programme previews and trailers, although prior to the completion of Digital switchover BBC Two
BBC Two
had filled its overnight downtime with Pages from Ceefax. Between 2005 and 2007 ITV broadcast the ITV Play
ITV Play
strand of phone-in participation TV programmes but now much of the night is dedicated to the text-based ITV information service ITV Nightscreen. Previously, Channel 4
Channel 4
had closed down to show live feeds of Big Brother (in the summer) and its spin-off, Celebrity Big Brother (in January). However, since 2010, repeats of Channel 4 daytime shows have typically been shown. Until the end of the 2000s Channel 5 generally showed various sports from around the world, including boxing and football from European leagues as well as live American sport, with phone-in participation-TV Quiz Call on weekends. Quiz Call is now shown every night of the week. Weekend[edit] Weekend daytime programming traditionally consists of more lifestyle programming, as well as afternoon live and recorded coverage of sporting events and films. There are further battles for viewers in the weekend primetime slot, often featuring reality or talent game shows in the evening. Lunchtime, early evening and late evening news programmes continue on BBC One
BBC One
and ITV although the length of the bulletins are shorter than during the week. Cultural impact[edit]

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January 2009)

Christian morality[edit] In 1963 Mary Whitehouse, incensed by the liberalising policies followed by Sir Hugh Greene, then director general of the BBC, began her letter writing campaign. She subsequently launched the Clean Up TV Campaign, and founded the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association in 1965. In 2008, Toby Young
Toby Young
in an article for The Independent
The Independent
wrote: "On the wider question of whether sex and violence on TV has led to a general moral collapse in society at large, the jury is still out. No one doubts that Western civilization is teetering on the brink ... but it is unfair to lay the blame entirely at the feet of BBC2 and Channel 4."[31] In 2005, the BBC's broadcast of Jerry Springer: The Opera elicited 55,000 complaints,[32] and provoked protests from Christian organisation Christian Voice,[33] and a private prosecution against the BBC
BBC
by the Christian Institute.[34] A summons was not issued.[35] In 2007, the General Synod of the Church of England claimed that programmes such as Celebrity Big Brother and Little Britain
Little Britain
were eroding moral standards. The Synod criticised broadcasting trends that "exploit the humiliation of human beings for public entertainment", and called for research to determine the behavioural impact of sexual or violent images.[36] Awards[edit] The British Academy Television Awards
British Academy Television Awards
are the most prestigious awards given in the British television industry, analogous to the Emmy Awards in the United States. They have been awarded annually since 1954, and are only open to British programmes. After all the entries have been received, they are voted for online by all eligible members of the Academy. The winner is chosen from the four nominees by a special jury of nine academy members for each award, the members of each jury selected by the Academy's Television Committee. The National Television Awards
National Television Awards
is a British television awards ceremony, sponsored by ITV and initiated in 1995. Although not widely held to be as prestigious as the BAFTAs, the National Television Awards are probably the most prominent ceremony for which the results are voted on by the general public. Unlike the BAFTAs, the National Television Awards allow foreign programmes to be nominated, providing they have been screened on a British channel during the eligible time period. Regulation[edit] Ofcom
Ofcom
is the independent regulator and competition authority for the communication industries in the United Kingdom, including television. As the regulatory body for media broadcasts, Ofcom's duties include:

Specification of the Broadcast Code, which took effect on 25 July 2005, with the latest version being published October 2008. The Code itself is published on Ofcom's website,[37] and provides a mandatory set of rules which broadcast programmes must comply with. The 10 main sections cover protection of under-eighteens, harm and offence, crime, religion, impartiality and accuracy, elections, fairness, privacy, sponsorship and commercial references.[38] As stipulated in the Communications Act 2003, Ofcom
Ofcom
enforces adherence to the Code. Failure for a broadcaster to comply with the Code results in warnings, fines, and potentially revokation of a broadcasting license. Rules on the amount and distribution of advertising, which also took effect July 2005[39] Examining specific complaints by viewers or other bodies about programmes and sponsorship. Ofcom
Ofcom
issues Broadcast Bulletins on a fortnightly basis which are accessible via its web site. As an example, a bulletin from February 2009 has a complaint from the National Heart Forum over sponsorship of The Simpsons
The Simpsons
by Domino's Pizza on Sky One. Ofcom
Ofcom
concluded this was in breach of the Broadcast Code, since it contravened an advertising restriction of food high in fat, salt or sugar.[40] (Restrictions in food and drink advertising to children were introduced in November 2006.)[41] The management, regulation and assignment of the electromagnetic spectrum in the UK, and licensing of portions of the spectrum for television broadcasting Public consultations on matters relating to TV broadcasting. The results of the consultations are published by Ofcom, and inform the policies that Ofcom
Ofcom
creates and enforces.[42]

In 2008, Ofcom
Ofcom
issued fines to the total of £7.7m. This included £5.67m of fines to ITV companies, including a £3m fine to LWT over voting irregularities on Saturday Night Takeaway, and fines totalling £495,000 to the BBC. Ofcom
Ofcom
said phone-in scandals had contributed significantly to the fine totals.[43] The Committee for Advertising Practice (CAP, or BCAP) is the body contracted by Ofcom
Ofcom
to create and maintain the codes of practice governing television advertising. The Broadcast Advertising Codes (or the TV codes) are accessible on CAP's web site. The Codes cover advertising standards (the TV Code), guidance notes, scheduling rules, text services (the Teletext
Teletext
Code) and interactive television guidance. The main sections of the TV Code concern compliance, programmes and advertising, unacceptable products, political and controversial issues, misleading advertising, harm and offence, children, medicines, treatments, health claims and nutrition, finance and investments, and religion.[44] The Advertising Standards Authority is an independent body responsible for resolving complaints relating to the advertising industry within the UK. It is not government funded, but funded by a levy on the advertising industry. It ensures compliance with the Codes created by CAP. The ASA covers all forms of advertising, not just television advertisements. The ASA can refer problematic adverts to Ofcom, since the channels carrying the adverts are ultimately responsible for the advertising content, and are answerable to Ofcom. Ofcom
Ofcom
can issue fines or revoke broadcast licenses if necessary. Licensing[edit] Main article: Television licensing in the United Kingdom In the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
and the Crown dependencies, a television licence is required to receive any publicly broadcast television service, from any source. This includes the commercial channels, cable and satellite transmissions. The money from the licence fee is used to provide radio, television and Internet
Internet
content for the BBC, and Welsh-language television programmes for S4C. The BBC[45] gives the following figures for expenditure of licence fee income:

50% – BBC One
BBC One
and BBC
BBC
Two 15% – local TV and radio 12% – network radio 10% – digital ( BBC
BBC
Three, BBC
BBC
Four, BBC
BBC
News 24, BBC
BBC
Parliament, CBBC, CBeebies) 10% – transmission costs and licence fee collection 3% – BBC
BBC
Online, Ceefax, and Interactive Content (including bbc.co.uk and BBC
BBC
Red Button)

Production[edit] As of 2002, 27,000 hours of original programming are produced year in the UK television industry, excluding news, at a cost of £2.6bn. Ofcom
Ofcom
has determined that 56% (£1.5bn) of production is in-house by the channel owners, and the remainder by independent production companies. Ofcom
Ofcom
is enforcing a 25% independent production quota for the channel operators, as stipulated in the Broadcasting Act 1990.[46] In-house production[edit] ITV plc, the company which owns 12 of the 15 regional ITV franchises, has set its production arm ITV Studios
ITV Studios
a target of producing 75% of the ITV schedule,[47] the maximum allowed by Ofcom. This would be a rise from 54% at present, as part of a strategy to make ITV content-led chiefly to double production revenues to £1.2bn by 2012.[48] ITV Studios
ITV Studios
currently produces programmes such as Coronation Street, Emmerdale
Emmerdale
and Heartbeat.[49] In contrast, the BBC
BBC
has implemented a Window of Creative Competition (WOCC), a 25% proportion over and above the 25% Ofcom
Ofcom
quota in which the BBC's in-house production and independent producers can compete.[50] The BBC
BBC
produces shows such as All Creatures Great and Small and F***off I'm a Hairy Woman.[51] Channel 4
Channel 4
commissions all programmes from independent producers. Independent production[edit] As a consequence of the launch of Channel 4
Channel 4
in 1982, and the 25% independent quota from the Broadcasting Act 1990, an independent production sector has grown in the UK. Notable companies include Talkback Thames, Endemol UK, Hat Trick Productions, and Tiger Aspect Productions. A full list can be seen here: Category:Television production companies of the United Kingdom History[edit]

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Alexandra Palace, the headquarters of the BBC
BBC
Television Service from 1936.

A plaque at Alexandra Palace
Alexandra Palace
commemorating the birthplace of generally receivable television. Here, 'high definition' refers to the 405-line television system rather than modern-day high-definition.

Timeline[edit] See also: Category:British television series by decade, Category:Years in British television, and List of years in television

BSB was received via an antenna known as a squarial. Despite the service ceasing in 1992, and the two Marcopolo satellites having since moved, squarials are still occasionally seen.

1936 Analogue terrestrial Following mechanical television test transmissions starting in 1926, and the first official broadcast in 1929,[52] the BBC
BBC
launches electronic television broadcasts, the BBC
BBC
Television Service, from Alexandra Palace. The picture format is monochrome, 405-line, and the transmission analogue terrestrial VHF. The service rebrands to BBC
BBC
TV in 1960.

1938 Analogue cable Community Antenna TV launches in Bristol
Bristol
and Kingston upon Hull, the UK's first cable services, distributing the 405 line service

1939 Analogue TV The BBC
BBC
Television Service ceases from September 1939 to June 1946, during World War II

1955 Regulation The Independent
The Independent
Television Authority (ITA) is appointed to oversee the creation of ITV by the Television Act 1954

1955 Analogue terrestrial ITV, the UK's second channel, begins when Associated-Rediffusion, the first ITV franchise, launches. ITV is initially arranged as 14 regional franchises, with three of these (London, Midlands and North) being further split into weekday and weekend franchises. The franchisees launch between September 1955 and September 1962, the franchise holders being Associated-Rediffusion, Associated TeleVision (holds two franchises, ATV London and ATV Midlands), Associated British Corporation, Granada Television, Scottish Television, Television Wales
Wales
and the West, Southern Television, Tyne Tees Television, Anglia Television, Ulster Television, Westward Television, Border Television, Grampian Television, Channel Television
Channel Television
and Wales (West and North) Television

1964 Analogue terrestrial BBC Two
BBC Two
launches, in a higher definition 625-line format (576i). As it is broadcast in UHF frequencies and a different format, owners of 405 line TVs are unable to receive it. Simultaneously, BBC
BBC
TV rebrands to BBC
BBC
One

1960s Analogue cable Rediffusion Vision start a 625-line cable service

1966 Programming The 1966 World Cup Final
1966 World Cup Final
broadcasts on BBC One
BBC One
and ITV, with 32.3 million viewers in total making it the most watched broadcast

1967 Analogue terrestrial Colour transmissions begin on BBC Two
BBC Two
using the PAL
PAL
format

1968 Analogue terrestrial The ITA made changes to the ITV franchises: the weekday/weekend split for the Midlands and North franchises is removed, but the North was split into North West and Yorkshire. From 1968, Telefusion Yorkshire held the new Yorkshire franchise. Thames Television
Thames Television
was created for the London weekday franchise, formed from ABC and Rediffusion. London Weekend Television replaced the London weekend franchise holder, ATV.

1968 Analogue terrestrial The ITV Emergency National Service replaces the regional ITV network in August 1968 due to strike action as a consequence of the implementation of the franchise changes

1969 Analogue terrestrial Colour transmissions begin on BBC One
BBC One
and ITV

1969 Programming The Apollo 11
Apollo 11
moon landing broadcasts on BBC
BBC
One, BBC Two
BBC Two
and ITV, listed as the Greatest TV Moment in a 1999 list compiled by Channel 4

1972 Regulation The Sound Broadcasting Act 1972 reconstitutes the ITA as the Independent Broadcasting Authority

1972 Analogue cable Licenses issued for experimental community cable stations in Bristol, Greenwich, Sheffield, Swindon and Wellingborough[53]

1974 Analogue terrestrial Ceefax
Ceefax
and ORACLE, the UK's first teletext services, launch

1975 Programming Fawlty Towers
Fawlty Towers
firsts broadcasts, listed as the Greatest British Television Programme in a list compiled by the British Film Institute in 2000

1979 Analogue terrestrial Almost all ITV broadcasts and production ceased due to a 10-week industrial dispute. When programming resumed on 24 October, there was a lack of original programming, so ITV showed repeats of 3-2-1. Original programming resumes two and a half months later

1982 Analogue terrestrial ITV franchise changes took effect: Central Independent Television
Central Independent Television
was created from a restructured ATV. Television South
Television South
(TVS) replaced Southern Television. Television South
Television South
West (TSW) replaced Westward Television. A new national ITV franchise is created for breakfast television, and awarded to TV-am

1982 Analogue terrestrial Launch of Channel 4
Channel 4
and S4C, the UK's second and third independent channels. S4C
S4C
broadcast to Wales, and Channel 4
Channel 4
the remainder of the country. The ITV companies sold Channel 4's airtime until the end of 1992. ITV and Channel 4
Channel 4
cross-promoted each other's programmes until 1998.

1985 Analogue terrestrial The two-station analogue terrestrial VHF
VHF
transmissions cease on 3 January[54]

Late 1980s Analogue cable Issue of franchises to local cable operators, which will eventually merge to become Virgin Media
Virgin Media
and WightFibre

1989 Analogue satellite Sky launches, a subscription satellite service, with pay-per-view movies and events

1990 Regulation The Broadcasting Act 1990 abolishes the Independent Broadcasting Authority and Cable Authority and replaces them with the Independent Television Commission. The Act makes mergers between ITV franchises possible – the regional franchises will ultimately consolidate to ITV plc
ITV plc
(holds 13 franchises) and STV Group (2 franchises). Most Franchises that would ultimately be owned by ITV plc
ITV plc
adopt the ITV1 brand in 2001, and drop regional identity in 2002. The two STV Group franchises standardise on the STV brand in 2006, with Channel Television taking on the ITV1 brand despite being independent of ITV plc at that time.

1990 Analogue satellite BSB launches, a subscription 5-channel satellite service

1991 Analogue terrestrial Two ITV regions and Channel 4
Channel 4
broadcast stereo sound transmissions using NICAM, with the rest of the ITV network following in the next couple of years. The BBC
BBC
launches NICAM stereo broadcasting on 31 August, having started test transmissions in 1986

1992 Analogue satellite After merging with Sky, BSkyB ceases transmissions on BSB's old satellite

1992 Programming Ghostwatch broadcasts on BBC
BBC
One, listed as the Most Controversial TV Moment in a 2005 list compiled by Channel 4. The programme had 2,215 complaints following the broadcast

1993 Analogue terrestrial ITV franchise changes took effect: Westcountry Television
Westcountry Television
replaced Television South
Television South
West; Carlton Television
Carlton Television
replaced Thames Television; Meridian Broadcasting
Meridian Broadcasting
replaced Television South; Good Morning Television replaced TV-am; Teletext
Teletext
Ltd replaced ORACLE, the national teletext franchise holder

1997 Analogue terrestrial Channel 5 launches; it is the UK's first terrestrial broadcaster to also launch on Sky

1998 Digital satellite BSkyB launches SkyDigital, now marketed as Sky TV, the UK's first digital satellite service. Unlike the analogue service, it includes an Electronic Programme Guide, interactive TV and text services, widescreen picture format from certain channels (16:9), audio description and near video-on-demand pay-per-view movie channels. This also sees the BBC, Channel 4
Channel 4
and S4C
S4C
to broadcast via satellite for the first time; as such, Channel 4
Channel 4
becomes available in Wales, and a new Welsh-only version of S4C
S4C
broadcasts nationally. The BBC
BBC
is initially encrypted and non-regional; it will drop encryption and launch regional variations from May 2003.[55][56] ITV will not join SkyDigital until October 2001.[57] SkyDigital launches with around 200 TV or radio channels

1998 Digital terrestrial Launch of OnDigital, a subscription digital terrestrial service

1998 Digital cable NTL, Telewest
Telewest
and Cable & Wireless begin digital cable services with similar characteristics to Sky Digital. Unlike Sky Digital, cable remains a regional service, carrying all versions of BBC
BBC
channels and ITV

1999 IPTV Kingston Interactive Television (KIT), the UK's first IPTV
IPTV
service, launches in Hull. It is the UK's first video on demand service

2001 Analogue satellite BSkyB ceases its analogue satellite service

2002 Digital terrestrial Closure of ITV Digital
ITV Digital
(né OnDigital)

2002 Digital terrestrial Launch of Freeview, a free digital terrestrial service to replace ITV Digital

2003 Regulation The Communications Act 2003
Communications Act 2003
abolishes the Independent Television Commission and replaces it with Ofcom

2004 Digital terrestrial Launch of Top Up TV, a subscription service on digital terrestrial

2006 Cable Merger of NTL and Telewest; they will later merge with Virgin Mobile and relaunch as Virgin Media

2006 Cable The UK's first public high-definition broadcasts, as BBC
BBC
and ITV show the 2006 FIFA World Cup
2006 FIFA World Cup
in high-definition via NTL:Telewest

2006 IPTV Kingston Communications
Kingston Communications
cease KIT

2006 IPTV Launch of BT Vision, a subscription video on demand service combined with a Freeview receiver

2006 Internet
Internet
television BSkyB launches Sky Anytime, a program to download television shows to PCs via the Internet, for subscribers to Sky TV

2006 Internet
Internet
television Channel 4
Channel 4
launches 4 on Demand, allowing free and paid-for downloads via the Internet
Internet
of television shows

2007 Internet
Internet
television ITV relaunch itv.com as an on-demand portal

2007 Analogue terrestrial The digital switchover begins as a consequence of switching off analogue terrestrial UHF transmissions

2007 Internet
Internet
television The BBC
BBC
launches BBC
BBC
iPlayer, a tool for watching BBC
BBC
programmes online

2008 Digital satellite Freesat
Freesat
launches, a free satellite television service

2009 Analogue cable Virgin Media
Virgin Media
closes the last analogue cable areas

2012 Analogue terrestrial Analogue terrestrial UHF transmissions cease in all regions.

Closed and aborted television providers[edit]

Provider Years Free or pay No. of channels Colour Digital VOD Transmission

VHF
VHF
terrestrial TV 1936–1985 Free 2 No No No Analogue terrestrial

405-line cable service 1938–? Unknown 2 No No No Analogue cable

UHF terrestrial TV 1965–2012 Free 5 (or 6) Yes No No Analogue terrestrial

Multiple cable services 1970s–2013 Unknown Free and pay Yes No No Analogue cable

Sky [analogue] 1989–2001 Pay Unknown Yes No No Analogue satellite

BSB 1990–1992 Pay 5 Yes No No Analogue satellite

OnDigital / ITV Digital 1998–2002 Pay Unknown Yes Yes No Digital terrestrial

KIT 1999–2006 Pay Unknown Yes Yes Yes IPTV

Top Up TV 2004–2013 Pay Unknown Yes Yes No Digital terrestrial

The following Internet
Internet
TV services have closed:

Service Years

SeeSaw 2010–2011

BBC
BBC
Store 2015–2017

The following services were aborted before launch:

Sky Picnic, a proposed subscription digital terrestrial service from Sky in 2007 'Project Kangaroo', an Internet
Internet
TV service announced by the BBC, ITV and Channel 4
Channel 4
in 2007. It later launched as SeeSaw.

Analogue terrestrial television[edit]

Crystal Palace transmitter. Constructed in 1956, it is the main transmitter for London.

Digital switchover progress across the UK   Switchover complete.

Main article: Analogue terrestrial television in the United Kingdom Analogue TV was transmitted via VHF
VHF
(1936) and later UHF (1964) radio waves, with analogue broadcasts ending in 2012. VHF
VHF
transmissions started in 1936 and closed in 1985 (with a gap 1939–1946), carrying two channels. The launch channel was the BBC Television Service, known as BBC
BBC
1 since 1964. This was joined by Independent Television, a network of regional franchises launching between 1955 and 1962. The channels transmitted in monochrome using the 405-line television system
405-line television system
at 25 frames per second, initially with an aspect ratio of 5:4, switching to 4:3 in 1950. UHF transmissions started in 1964 and closed in 2012. The launch channel was BBC
BBC
2. This would be joined by BBC
BBC
1, the ITV network, Channel 4
Channel 4
or S4C
S4C
in Wales, Channel 5 as well as a network of local TV channels. Transmissions started using the System I standard, a 625-line monochrome picture at 25 frames/second (576i) and a 4:3 aspect ratio. Technical advancements included colour (1967), teletext (1974), and stereo sound (1991). The drive to switch viewers from analogue to digital transmissions was a process called the digital switchover. Whilst there are no longer any analogue broadcasts in the UK, a PAL signal may be present in closed RF distribution systems, e.g. a video feed from an intercom in a block of flats, or a security system.

Common channel position Channel name Channel owner Regions[nb 5] VHF
VHF
launch date UHF launch date

1 BBC
BBC
One BBC 18 regional variations[58] 2 November 1936 15 November 1969

2 BBC
BBC
Two BBC 4 regional variations[59][nb 6] N/A 20 April 1964

3 ITV (on-air brand ITV, STV or UTV; legal name Channel 3) ITV Network Ltd (ITV plc, STV Group) 17 regional variations (14 ITV,[60] 2 STV,[61] UTV); 24 advertising regions;[62] 13 Teletext
Teletext
regions[63] From 22 September 1955 – 14 September 1962 15 November 1969

4 (English regions, Scotland
Scotland
and Northern Ireland) Channel 4 Channel Four Television Corporation 6 advertising regions[64] N/A 2 November 1982

4 (Wales) S4C S4C
S4C
Authority 1 region N/A 1 November 1982

5 Channel 5 Viacom
Viacom
International Media Networks Europe 4 advertising regions[65] N/A 30 March 1997

6 Restricted Service Licence channels Various 18 channels (approx) N/A From Oct 1998

Defunct channels[edit] There are around 100 defunct British channels. For a list, see List of former TV channels in the UK or Category:Defunct British television channels. Commentary[edit] The rise of television in the UK[edit]

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January 2008)

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) was established in 1927 to develop radio broadcasting, and inevitably became involved in TV in 1936. The BBC
BBC
is funded by income from a "Broadcast Receiving Licence" purchased by UK residents. The cost of this is set by agreement with the UK Government. Television caught on in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
in 1947, but its expansion was slow. By 1951, with only two transmitters, near London and Birmingham, only 9% of British homes owned a television set. The United Kingdom
United Kingdom
was the first country in the world to have a regular daily television schedule direct to homes and it was the first to have technical professions to work on TVs. (A. Smith, Television: An International History 1995) The UK Government previously appointed people to the BBC's Board of Governors, a body responsible for the general direction of the organisation, and appointment of senior executives, but not its day-to-day management. From 2007, the BBC
BBC
Trust replaced the Board of Governors. It is operationally independent of BBC
BBC
management and external bodies, and aims to act in the best interests of licence fee payers. Commercial television was first introduced in the United Kingdom, in 1955. Unlike the US, there was a distinct split between advertisements and programming. Advertisers purely purchased spots within pre-defined breaks within programming, and had no connection to the programme content. The content and nature of adverts being strictly controlled by the ITA the body controlling commercial television. History of satellite television[edit] The first commercial direct-broadcast satellite (DBS, also known as direct-to-home) service in the United Kingdom, Sky Television, was launched in 1989 and used the newly launched Astra satellite at 19.2° east, providing four analogue TV channels. The channels and subsequent VideoCrypt
VideoCrypt
video encryption system used the existing PAL
PAL
broadcast standard, unlike the winner of the UK state DBS licence, British Satellite
Satellite
Broadcasting (BSB). In 1990, BSB launched, broadcasting five channels (Now, Galaxy, The Movie Channel, The Power Station and The Sports Channel) in D-MAC format and using the EuroCypher video encryption system which was derived from the General Instruments VideoCipher system used in the USA. One of the main selling points of the BSB offering was the Squarial, a flat plate antenna and low-noise block converter (LNB). Sky's system used conventional and cheaper dish and LNB technology. The two companies competed over the UK rights to movies. Sky operated from an industrial park in Isleworth
Isleworth
in West London, whereas BSB had newly built offices in London (Marco Polo House). The two services subsequently merged to form British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB). BSB's D-MAC/EuroCypher system was gradually replaced with Sky's VideoCrypt video encryption system. In 1994 17% of the group was floated on the London Stock Exchange (with ADRs listed on the New York Stock Exchange), and Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation owns a 35% stake.[citation needed] By 1998, following the launch of several more satellites to Astra's 19.2° east position, the number of channels had increased to around 60 and BSkyB launched the first subscription-based digital television platform in the UK, offering a range of 300 channels broadcast from Astra's new satellite, at 28.2° east position under the brand name Sky Digital. BSkyB's analogue service has now been discontinued, with all customers having been migrated to Sky Digital. In May 2008, a free-to-air satellite service from the BBC
BBC
and ITV was launched under the brand name Freesat, carrying a variety of channels from Astra 28.2°E, including some content in HD formats. See also[edit]

Television in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
portal

Industry bodies[edit]

Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union
Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union
(BECTU), National Union of Journalists
National Union of Journalists
(NUJ) and Equity, trade unions for members of the broadcasting industry Clearcast, performs clearance of television advertising copy and the final advertisements. Replaced the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre (BACC) on 1 January 2008 Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, a select committee of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, established in 1997, which oversees the Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
(DCMS), the government department responsible for broadcasting in the UK Digital TV Group (DTG), an industry association for digital television, formed in 1995 Digital UK, the body in charge of digital switchover of television in the UK Producers Association for Cinema and Television, Royal Television Society (RTS), a society for the discussion, analysis and preservation of television in all its forms, past, present and future, which formed in 1927 United Kingdom Independent Broadcasting
United Kingdom Independent Broadcasting
(UKIB), an affiliation of independent production companies and broadcasters, representing non- BBC
BBC
interests in the European Broadcasting Union

Genres and programming[edit]

Ofcom
Ofcom
Code on Sports and Other Listed and Designated Events, regulatory rules devised in 1997 which ensure particular sporting events are available for free via terrestrial television Sports broadcasting contracts in the United Kingdom British sitcom Soap opera Light entertainment Category:British television-related lists

List of American television series based on British television series List of British television programmes based on American television series List of films based on British television series List of films based on British sitcoms List of BBC
BBC
Radio programmes adapted for television, and of television programmes adapted for radio List of children's television series in the United Kingdom List of UK game shows List of longest-running UK television series

Miscellaneous[edit]

Appreciation Index (AI), a score between 0 and 100 which measures the public's approval of a particular programme, which can be used to measure attitudes to programmes with small or niche audiences Broadcast, a weekly trade magazine for the broadcast industry Edinburgh
Edinburgh
International Television Festival, an annual industry gathering in Edinburgh Public service broadcasting in the United Kingdom, broadcasting intended for public benefit rather than purely commercial concerns Public information film, government commissioned short films usually shown during television advertising breaks Listings and general television magazines Radio Times, Soaplife, TV & Satellite
Satellite
Week, TV easy, TV Quick, TVTimes, What's on TV

Notes[edit]

^ Taking the base Sky EPG
EPG
TV Channels. A breakdown is impossible due to a) the number of platforms, b) duplication of services, c) regional services, d) part time operations, and e) audio. For the Sky platform alone, there are basically 485 TV Stations, additionally 57 "timeshifted versions", 36 HDTV versions, 42 regional TV options, 81 audio channels, and 5 promotion channels as of mid-2010 ^ Taking the data from note 1 above, this is a very crude estimate ^ Around 200 additional channels available if manually tuned; see List of free-to-air channels at 28°E ^ Derived from total free satellite households (figure 12) and Freesat sales figures (§3.13) in Ofcom
Ofcom
report ^ The region counts shown are for the channel overall, and do not account for regions which have undergone digital switch-over and hence are digital-only ^ Count of BBC Two
BBC Two
analogue regional variations

References[edit]

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