For other uses see BBC (disambiguation).
|Network Name:||British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)|
|Network Type:||Broadcast radio, television and online|
Mark Thompson, Director-General (Chairman of the Executive Board).
|Launch Date:||1922 (radio)|
|Past Names:||British Broadcasting Company Ltd. (1922-1927)|
Incorporated in the United Kingdom by government charter, it employs 28,500 people in the country alone and has an annual budget of more than £4 billion.  The BBC is a quasi-autonomous statutory corporation as a public service broadcaster and is run by the BBC Trust; it is, per its charter, supposed to "be free from both political and commercial influence and answer only to its viewers and listeners". In addition to being the largest broadcasting corporation in the world, BBC Newsgathering is the largest news system through its regional offices, foreign correspondents and agreements with other news services.
The BBC reaches more than 200 countries and is available to more than 274 million households, significantly more than CNN's (its nearest competitor) estimated 200 million. Its radio services broadcast on a wide variety of wavelengths, making them available to many regions of the world. It broadcasts news - by radio or over the Internet - in some 33 languages.
The BBC was the first national broadcasting organisation and was founded on 18 October 1922 as the British Broadcasting Company Ltd; It was subsequently granted a Royal Charter and was made a publicly funded corporation in 1927. The corporation produces programmes and information services, broadcasting globally on television, radio, and the Internet. The stated mission of the BBC is "to inform, educate and entertain" (as laid down by Parliament in the BBC Charter); its motto is "Nation Shall Speak Peace Unto Nation".
The BBC's domestic programming is primarily funded by levying television licence fees (under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949), although money is also raised through commercial activities such as sale of merchandise and programming. The BBC World Service, however, is funded through a grant-in-aid by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. As part of the BBC Charter, the Corporation cannot show commercial advertising on any services in the United Kingdom (television, radio, or internet). Outside the United Kingdom the BBC broadcasts commercially funded channels such as BBC America, BBC Canada, and BBC World News. In order to justify the licence fee, the BBC is expected to produce a number of high-rating shows in addition to programmes that commercial broadcasters would not normally broadcast.
Older domestic UK audiences often refer to the BBC as "the Beeb", a nickname originally dubbed by Peter Sellers in The Goon Show in the 1950s, when he referred to the "Beeb Beeb Ceeb". It was then borrowed, shortened and popularised by Kenny Everett. Another nickname, now less commonly used, is "Auntie", said to originate from the old-fashioned "Auntie knows best" attitude, (but possibly a sly reference to the 'aunties' and 'uncles' who were presenters of children's programmes in early days) in the days when John Reith, the BBC's founder, was in charge. The two nicknames have also been used together as "Auntie Beeb", and Auntie has been used in outtakes programmes such as Auntie's Bloomers.
See main article: Timeline of the BBC. The original British Broadcasting Company was founded in 1922 by a group of telecommunications companies - Marconi, Radio Communication Company, Metropolitan-Vickers, General Electric, Western Electric, and British Thomson-Houston - to broadcast experimental radio services. The first transmission was on 14 November of that year, from station 2LO, located at Marconi House, London.
The Company, with John Reith as general manager, became the British Broadcasting Corporation in 1927 when it was granted a Royal Charter (this expires in July 2013) of incorporation and ceased to be privately owned. To represent its purpose and values, the Corporation adopted the coat of arms, incorporating the motto "Nation shall speak peace unto Nation". Experimental television broadcasts were started in 1932 using an electromechanical 30 line system developed by John Logie Baird. The broadcasts became a regular service (known as the BBC Television Service) in 1936, alternating between a Baird mechanical 240 line system and the all electronic 405 line Marconi-EMI system. The superiority of the electronic system saw the mechanical system dropped later that year. Television broadcasting was suspended from 1 September 1939 to 7 June 1946 during the Second World War. A widely reported urban myth is that, upon resumption of service, announcer Leslie Mitchell started by saying, "As I was saying before we were so rudely interrupted ..." In fact, the first person to appear when transmission resumed was Jasmine Bligh and the words said were "Good afternoon, everybody. How are you? Do you remember me, Jasmine Bligh ...?"
The European Broadcasting Union was formed on 12 February 1950, in Torquay with the BBC among the 23 founding broadcasting organisations.
Competition to the BBC was introduced in 1955 with the commercially and independently operated television network ITV, however, the BBC monopoly on radio services would persist into the 1970s. As a result of the Pilkington Committee report of 1962, in which the BBC was lauded and ITV was very heavily criticised for not providing enough quality programming, the BBC was awarded a second TV channel, BBC2, in 1964, renaming the existing channel BBC1. BBC2 used the higher resolution 625 line standard which had been standardised across Europe. BBC2 was broadcast in colour from 1 July 1967, and was joined by BBC 1 and ITV on 15 November 1969. The 405 line VHF transmissions of BBC 1 (and ITV) were continued for compatibility with older television receivers until 1985.
Starting in 1964 a series of pirate radio stations (starting with Radio Caroline) came on the air, and forced the British government finally to regulate radio services to permit nationally-based advertising-financed services. In response the BBC reorganised and renamed their radio channels. The Light Programme was split into Radio 1 offering continuous "Popular" music and Radio 2 more "Easy Listening". The "Third" programme became Radio 3 offering classical music and cultural programming. The Home Service became Radio 4 offering news, and non-musical content such as quiz shows, readings, dramas and plays. As well as the four national channels, a series of local BBC radio stations was established.
In 1974, the BBC's teletext service, Ceefax, was introduced, created initially to provide subtitling, but developed into a news and information service. In 1978 BBC staff went on strike just before the Christmas of that year, thus blocking out the transmission of both channels and amalgamating all four radio stations into one. 
Since the deregulation of the UK television and radio market in the 1980s, the BBC has faced increased competition from the commercial sector (and from the advertiser-funded public service broadcaster Channel 4), especially on satellite television, cable television, and digital television services.
The BBC Research Department has played a major part in the development of broadcasting and recording techniques. In the early days it carried out essential research into acoustics and programme level and noise measurement.
The 2004 Hutton Inquiry and the subsequent Report raised questions about the BBC's journalistic standards and its impartiality. This led to resignations of senior management members at the time including the then Director General, Greg Dyke. In January 2007, the BBC released minutes of the Board meeting which led to Greg Dyke's resignation. Many commentators have considered the discussions documented in the minutes to have made Dyke's ability to remain in position untenable and tantamount to a dismissal.
Unlike the other departments of the BBC, BBC World Service is funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, more commonly known as the Foreign Office or the FCO, is the British government department responsible for promoting the interests of the United Kingdom abroad.
On 18 October 2007, BBC Director General Mark Thompson announced a controversial plan to make major cuts and reduce the size of the BBC as an organisation. The plans include a reduction in posts of 2,500; including 1,800 redundancies, consolidating news operations, reducing programming output by 10% and selling off the flagship Television Centre building in London. These plans have been fiercely opposed by unions, who have threatened a series of strikes, however the BBC have stated that the cuts are essential to move the organisation forward and concentrate on increasing the quality of programming.
The BBC is a quasi-autonomous Public Corporation operating as a public service broadcaster incorporated under a Royal Charter that is reviewed every 10 years. Until 2007, the Corporation was run by a board of governors appointed by The Queen or King on the advice of the government for a term of four years, but on 1 January 2007 the Board of Governors was replaced with the BBC Trust. The BBC is required by its charter to be free from both political and commercial influence and to answer only to its viewers and listeners.
The most recent Charter came into effect on 1 January 2007. It has created a number of important changes to the Corporation's management and purpose:
The BBC is a nominally autonomous corporation, independent from direct government intervention, with its activities being overseen by the BBC Trust, formerly the Board of Governors. General management of the organisation is in the hands of a Director-General, who is appointed by the Trust.
See main article: BBC Trust.
The BBC Trust came into effect on 1 January 2007, replacing the Board of Governors.
"The BBC Trust works on behalf of licence fee payers: it ensures the BBC provides high quality output and good value for all UK citizens and it protects the independence of the BBC." – BBC TrustThe Trust sets the overall strategic direction for the corporation and assesses the performance of the BBC Executive Board. The Trust has twelve trustees, currently:
The original trustees, three former governors and eight new members, were announced by Tessa Jowell, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, in October 2006. Michael Grade, then Chairman of the Governors, was to become Chairman of the Trust at the time of the announcement, but due to his move to ITV, Chitra Bharucha became the Acting Chair. Sir Michael Lyons took over as Chairman from 1 May 2007.
The Executive Board oversees the effective delivery of the corporation's objectives and obligations within a framework set by the BBC Trust, and is headed by the Director-General, Mark Thompson. In December 2006, Thompson announced the final appointments to the new Executive Board, consisting of ten directors from the different operations of the group, and five non-executive directors, appointed to provide independent and professional advice to the Executive Board. The members are:
See main article: Board of Governors of the BBC. The Board of Governors regulated the group from incorporation in 1927 until 31 December 2006, when the Board was replaced by the BBC Trust. The governors as of the dissolution of the Board were:
The BBC has the largest budget of any UK broadcaster with an operating expenditure of £4.3 billion in 2007 compared to £3.8 billion for British Sky Broadcasting, £1.9 billion for ITV and £214 million in 2007 for GCap Media (the largest commercial radio broadcaster).
The principal means of funding the BBC is through the television licence, costing £139.50 per year per household (as of May 2008). Such a licence is required to operate a broadcast television receiver within the UK. The cost of a television licence is set by the government and enforced by the criminal law. A discount is available for households with only black-and-white television sets. The revenue is collected privately and is paid into the central government Consolidated Fund, a process defined in the Communications Act 2003. This TV Licensing collection is currently carried out by Capita, an outside agency. Funds are then allocated by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Treasury and approved by Parliament via legislation. Additional revenues are paid by the Department for Work and Pensions to compensate for subsidised licences for eligible over-75 year olds.
Income from commercial enterprises and from overseas sales of its catalogue of programmes has substantially increased over recent years, with BBC Worldwide contributing some £145 million to the BBC's core public service business.
According to the BBC's 2005–2006 Annual Report, its income can be broken down as follows:
The licence fee has, however, attracted criticism. It has been argued that in an age of multi stream, multi-channel availability, an obligation to pay a licence fee is no longer appropriate. The BBC's use of private sector company Capita Group to send letters to premises not paying the licence fee has been criticised, especially as there have been cases where such letters have been sent to premises which are up to date with their payments, or do not require a TV licence. The BBC uses an advertising campaign to inform customers of the requirement to pay the licence fee. These letters and adverts have been criticised by Conservative MPs Boris Johnson and Ann Widdecombe, for having a threatening nature and language used to scare evaders into paying.  Audio clips and television broadcasts are used to inform listeners of the BBC's comprehensive database. There are a number of pressure groups campaigning on the issue of the licence fee.
The BBC gave two forms of expenditure statement for the financial year 2005-2006.
The amount of each licence fee spent monthly breaks down as follows:
|Department||Monthly cost (GBP)|
|Transmission and collection costs||£1.08|
|Nations and English Regions television||£1.04|
|BBC Radio 1, 2, 3, 4 and Five Live||£1.02|
|Digital television channels||£1.00|
|Nations' and local radio||68p|
|Digital radio stations||10p|
|Interactive TV (BBC Red Button)||8p|
The total broadcasting spend for 2005-2006 is given as:
|Department||Total cost (£million)|
|Interactive TV (BBCi)||18|
|Local radio and regional television||370|
|Programme related spend||338|
|Overheads and Digital UK||315|
|Transmission and collection costs||320|
See main article: Broadcasting House.
Broadcasting House in Portland Place, London, England, UK is the official headquarters of the BBC. It is home to three of the ten BBC national radio networks. They are BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4, and BBC 7. On the front of the building are statues of Prospero and Ariel (from Shakespeare's The Tempest) sculpted by Eric Gill.
Renovation of Broadcasting House began in 2002 and is scheduled for completion in 2010. As part of a major reorganisation of BBC property, Broadcasting House is to become home to BBC News (both television and radio), national radio, and the BBC World Service. The major part of this plan involves the demolition of the two post-war extensions to the building and construction of a new building beside the existing structure. During the rebuilding process many of the BBC Radio networks have been relocated to other buildings in the vicinity of Portland Place.
In 2010, the entire BBC News operation is expected to relocate from the News Centre at BBC Television Centre to the refurbished Broadcasting House in what is being described as "one of the world's largest live broadcast centres".
By far the largest concentration of BBC staff in the UK exists in White City. Well-known buildings in this area include the BBC Television Centre, White City, Media Centre, Broadcast Centre and Centre House.
As well as the various BBC buildings in London, there are major BBC production centres located in Cardiff, Belfast, Glasgow, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Bristol, Southampton and Newcastle upon Tyne. Some of these local centres are also known as "Broadcasting House". There are also many smaller local and regional studios scattered throughout the UK.
In 2011, the BBC is planning to move several departments including BBC Sport and BBC Children's north to newly built premises in Salford Quays, Greater Manchester. This will mark a major decentralisation of the corporation's operations from London.
See main article: BBC Television. BBC One and BBC Two are the BBC's flagship television channels. The BBC is also promoting the new channels BBC Three and BBC Four, which are only available via digital television equipment (now in widespread use in the UK, with analogue transmission being phased out by December 2012 ). The BBC also runs the BBC News channel, BBC Parliament, and two children's channels, CBBC and CBeebies, on digital.
BBC One is a regionalised TV service which provides opt-outs throughout the day for local news and other local programming. These variations are more pronounced in the BBC 'Nations', i.e. Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, where the presentation is mostly carried out locally on BBC One and Two. BBC Two variations within England are currently rare, though most regions still have the ability to 'opt out' of the main feed, albeit on analogue only. BBC Two was also the first channel to be transmitted on 625 lines in 1964, then carry a small-scale regular colour service from 1967. BBC One would follow in December 1969.
A new Scottish Gaelic television channel, BBC Alba, was launched in September 2008. It is also the first multi-genre channel to come entirely from Scotland with almost all of its programmes made in Scotland. The service is currently only available via satellite and cable television.
In the Republic of Ireland, the BBC channels are available in a number of ways. All multichannel platforms carry them, although many viewers also receive BBC services via 'overspill' from transmitters in Northern Ireland or Wales, or via 'deflectors' - transmitters in the Republic which rebroadcast broadcasts from the UK, received off-air, or from Digital Satellite.
From 9 June 2006, the BBC began a 6-12 month trial of High-definition television broadcasts under the name BBC HD. The corporation has been producing programmes in the format for many years, and states that it hopes to produce 100% of new programmes in HDTV by 2010.
Since 1975, the BBC has also provided its TV programmes to the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS), allowing members of HM Forces serving all over the world to watch and listen to their favourite programmes from home on two dedicated TV channels.
In 2008, the BBC began experimenting with live streaming of certain channels in the UK, and in November 2008, all standard BBC television channels were made available to watch online.
The BBC has five major national stations:
In recent years some further national stations have been introduced on digital radio platforms including Five Live Sports Extra (a companion to Five Live for additional events coverage), 1Xtra (for black, urban and gospel music), 6 Music (less mainstream genres of music), BBC 7 (comedy, drama & children's programming) and BBC Asian Network (British South Asian talk, music and news in English and in many South Asian languages), a station which had evolved from BBC Local Radio origins in the 1970s and still is broadcast on Medium Wave frequencies in some parts of England. In addition the BBC World Service is now also broadcast nationally in the UK on DAB.
There is also a network of local stations with a mixture of talk, news and music in England and the Channel Islands as well as national stations (Nations' radio) of BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru (in Welsh), BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio nan Gaidheal (in Scots Gaelic), BBC Radio Ulster, and BBC Radio Foyle.
For a worldwide audience, the BBC produces the BBC World Service funded by the Foreign Office, which is broadcast worldwide on shortwave radio, and on DAB Digital Radio in the UK. The World Service is a major source of news and information programming and can be received in 150 capital cities worldwide, with a weekly audience estimate of 163 million listeners worldwide. The Service currently broadcasts in 33 languages and dialects (including English), though not all languages are broadcast in all areas.
In 2005, the BBC announced that it would substantially reduce its radio broadcasting in Thai language (closed in 2006) and Eastern European languages and divert resources instead to a new Arabic language satellite TV broadcasting station (including radio and online content) in the Middle East to be launched in 2007.
Since 1943, the BBC has also provided radio programming to the British Forces Broadcasting Service, which broadcasts in countries where British troops are stationed.
All of the national, local, and regional BBC radio stations, as well as the BBC World Service, are available over the Internet in the RealAudio streaming format. In April 2005, the BBC began trials offering a limited number of radio programmes as podcasts.
Historically, the BBC was the only (legal) radio broadcaster based in the UK mainland until 1967, when University Radio York (URY), then under the name Radio York, was launched as the first (and now oldest) legal independent radio station in the country. However, the BBC did not enjoy a complete monopoly before this as several Continental stations (such as Radio Luxembourg) broadcast programmes in English to Britain since the 1930s and the Isle of Man based Manx Radio began in 1964.
See main article: BBC News. BBC News is the largest broadcast news gathering operation in the world, providing services to BBC domestic radio as well as television networks such as the BBC News, BBC Parliament and BBC World News, as well as BBC Red Button, Ceefax and BBC News Online. New BBC News services that are also proving popular are mobile services to mobile phones and PDAs. Desktop news alerts, e-mail alerts, and digital TV alerts are also available.
Ratings figures suggest that during major crises such as the 7 July 2005 London bombings or a royal funeral, the UK audience overwhelmingly turns to the BBC's coverage as opposed to its commercial rivals. On 7 July 2005, the day that there were a series of coordinated bomb blasts on London's public transport system, the BBC Online website recorded an all time bandwidth peak of 11 Gb/s at 12:00 on 7 July. BBC News received some 1 billion total hits on the day of the event (including all images, text and HTML), serving some 5.5 terabytes of data. At peak times during the day there were 40,000 page requests per second for the BBC News website. The previous day's announcement of the 2012 Olympics being awarded to London caused a peak of around 5 Gbit/s. The previous all time high at BBC Online was caused by the announcement of the Michael Jackson verdict, which used 7.2 Gbit/s.
BBC News forms a major department of the BBC, and as such is constantly facing allegations of holding a left-wing, right-wing or liberal bias. The Centre for Policy Studies say that, "Since at least the mid-1980s, the BBC has often been criticised for a perceivedbias against those on the centre-right of politics." Similar allegations have been made by past and present employees such as Antony Jay, former political editor Andrew Marr, North American editor Justin Webb, former editor of the Today Programme, Rod Liddle and former correspondent Robin Aitken. BBC executives would later submit to claims of systematic bias and "that the BBC is guilty of promoting Left-wing views". By contrast left-wing figures such as the journalist John Pilger have frequently accused the BBC of a right-wing bias, a view supported by the left-wing website Media Lens. The RESPECT MP George Galloway has referred to it as the "Bush and Blair Corporation".
Criticism of the BBC's middle east coverage from both sides, including allegations of anti-Israeli bias, led the BBC to commission an investigation and report from a senior BBC editorial adviser Malcolm Balen, referred to as the Balen Report. Attempts to force the BBC to release the report under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 were unsuccessful after the courts upheld the BBC's argument that the report fell outside of the Act's scope as it was conducted for journalistic purposes. This led to speculation that the report was damning, as well as to accusations of hypocrisy as the BBC frequently made use itself of Freedom of Information Act requests when researching news stories. The BBC did make public the findings of an "independent panel report" written in 2006, that said that while there was "no deliberate or systematic bias" in the BBC's reporting of the middle east, their coverage had been "inconsistent," "not always providing a complete picture" and "misleading". It suggested that in fact BBC coverage implicitly favoured the Israeli side. Former BBC middle east correspondent Tim Llewellyn wrote in 2004 that the BBC's coverage allowed an Israeli view of the conflict to dominate, as demonstrated by research conducted by the Glasgow Media Group.
The BBC has received criticism in recent times over its coverage of the events leading up to the war in Iraq. The controversy over what it described as the "sexing up" of the case for war in Iraq by the government, led to the BBC being heavily criticised by the Hutton Inquiry, although this finding was much disputed by the British press.
In August 2007 Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price highlighted what he perceived as a lack of a Welsh focus on BBC news broadcasts. Price threatened to withhold future television licence fees in response to a lack of thorough news coverage of Wales, echoing a BBC Audience Council for Wales July report citing public frustration over how the Welsh Assembly is characterised in national media. Plaid AM Bethan Jenkins agreed with Price and called for responsibility for broadcasting to be devolved to the Welsh Assembly, voicing similar calls from Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond. Criticism of the BBC's news coverage for Wales and Scotland since devolution prompted debate of possibly providing evening news broadcasts with specific focus for both countries.
In 2008, the BBC was criticised by some for referring to the terrorists who carried out the November 2008 Mumbai attacks as mere "gunmen"  , however many other broadcasters such as ITV and Channel 4 also used the term rather than "terrorist" as at the time of the event the motives of the attackers were not entirely clear.
While the BBC received accusations of bias, both for and against Israel, for its coverage of the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict, it received particularly intense criticism in January 2009 for its decision not to broadcast a television appeal by aid agencies for victims of the airstrikes against Gaza. BBC officials said the decision stemmed from a policy of maintaining impartiality in the dispute. But many parties criticized the decision, including Church of England archbishops, British government ministers and even some BBC employees. BBC officials described the criticism as unprecedented, including more than 11,000 complaints in a three-day span. Some protests have accused the company of giving in to pressure from Israel or Jewish groups, while others attribute it to a fear of controversy in light of prior embarrassments over Middle East coverage; the BBC has strongly denied both claims. Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, protested BBC's decision by canceling interviews scheduled with the company; ElBaradei claimed the refusal to air the aid appeal "violates the rules of basic human decency which are there to help vulnerable people irrespective of who is right or wrong."
See main article: BBC Online.
See main article: BBC iPlayer. The BBC Online website includes a comprehensive news website and archive. It was launched as BBC Online, before being renamed BBCi, then bbc.co.uk, before it was rebranded back as BBC Online. The website uses GeoIP technology and carries advertisements when viewed outside of the UK. The BBC claims the site to be "Europe's most popular content-based site" and states that 13.2 million people in the UK visit the site's more than two million pages each day. According to Alexa's TrafficRank system, in July 2008 BBC Online was the 27th most popular English Language website in the world, and the 46th most popular overall.
A new version of the BBC website was launched in December 2007, with the new site enabling the user to customise the BBC's internet services to their own needs. This, on 28 February 2008, was made permanent.
The website allows the BBC to produce sections which complement the various programmes on television and radio, and it is common for viewers and listeners to be told website addresses for the bbc.co.uk sections relating to that programme. The site also allows users to listen to most Radio output live and for seven days after broadcast using its RealPlayer-based "Radio Player"; some TV content is also distributed in RealVideo format. A new system known as iPlayer was launched on 27 July 2007, which uses peer-to-peer and DRM technology to deliver both radio and TV content of the last seven days for offline use for up to 30 days. Also, through participation in the Creative Archive Licence group, bbc.co.uk allowed legal downloads of selected archive material via the internet. As of February 2008 the BBC has also offered television programmes for download on Apple iTunes under the studio title "BBC Worldwide".
BBC jam was a free online service, delivered through broadband and narrowband connections, providing high-quality interactive resources designed to stimulate learning at home and at school. Initial content was made available in January 2006 however BBC jam was suspended on 20 March 2007 due to allegations made to the European Commission that it was damaging the interests of the commercial sector of the industry.
In recent years some major on-line companies and politicians have complained that the bbc.co.uk website receives too much funding from the television licence, meaning that other websites are unable to compete with the vast amount of advertising-free on-line content available on bbc.co.uk. Some have proposed that the amount of licence fee money spent on bbc.co.uk should be reduced - either being replaced with funding from advertisements or subscriptions, or a reduction in the amount of content available on the site. In response to this the BBC carried out an investigation, and has now set in motion a plan to change the way it provides its online services. bbc.co.uk will now attempt to fill in gaps in the market, and will guide users to other websites for currently existing market provision. (For example, instead of providing local events information and timetables, users will be guided to outside websites already providing that information.)Part of this plan included the BBC closing some of its websites, and rediverting money to redevelop other parts. 
See main article: BBC Red Button. BBC Red Button is the brand name for the BBC's interactive digital television services, which are available through Freeview (digital terrestrial), as well as Sky Digital (satellite), and Virgin Media (cable). Unlike Ceefax, BBC Red Button is able to display full-colour graphics, photographs, and video, as well as programmes. Recent examples include the interactive sports coverage for football and rugby football matches and the 2008 Olympic Games, BBC Soundbites which starred young actress Jennifer Lynn and an interactive national IQ test, Test the Nation. All of the BBC's digital television stations, (and radio stations on Freeview), allow access to the BBC Red Button service.
As well as the 24/7 service, BBC Red Button provides viewers with over 100 interactive TV programmes every year, including news and weather.
BBC Worldwide Limited is the wholly-owned commercial subsidiary of the BBC responsible for the commercial exploitation of BBC programmes and other properties, including a number of television stations throughout the world. The cable and satellite stations BBC Prime (in Europe, Africa the Middle East, and Asia), BBC America, BBC Canada (alongside BBC Kids), broadcast popular BBC programmes to people outside the UK, as does UK.TV (co-run with Foxtel and Fremantle Media) in Australasia. A similar service, BBC Japan, ceased broadcasts in April 2006 after its Japanese distributor folded. BBC Worldwide also runs a 24-hour news channel, BBC World News and co-runs, with Virgin Media, the UKTV network of stations in the UK, producers of amongst others UKTV Gold. In addition, BBC television news appears nightly on many Public Broadcasting Service stations in the United States, as do reruns of BBC programmes such as EastEnders, and in New Zealand on TV One.
Many BBC programmes (especially documentaries) are sold via BBC Worldwide to foreign television stations, and comedy, documentaries and historical drama productions are popular on the international DVD market.
BBC Worldwide also maintains the publishing arm of the BBC and it is the third-largest publisher of consumer magazines in the United Kingdom. BBC Magazines, formerly known as BBC Publications, publishes the Radio Times (and published the now-defunct The Listener) as well as a number of magazines that support BBC programming such as BBC Top Gear, BBC Good Food, BBC Sky at Night, BBC History, BBC Wildlife and BBC Music.
BBC Worldwide also produces several branded channels available on satellite in Asia and India, including BBC Lifestyle, BBC Knowledge and BBC Entertainment. In December 2007, a polish version of BBC Entertainment launched.
The BBC has traditionally played a major role in producing book and music tie-ins with its broadcast material. BBC Records produced soundtrack albums, talking books and material from radio broadcasts of music.
Between 2004 and 2006, BBC Worldwide owned the independent magazine publisher Origin Publishing.
BBC Worldwide also licences and directly sells DVD and audio recordings of popular programmes to the public, most notably Doctor Who (including books and merchandise), and archive classical music recordings, initially as BBC Radio Classics and then BBC Legends.
The BBC runs a number of orchestras and choirs, including the BBC Concert Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Television Orchestra (1936-1939), the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Big Band, the BBC Singers and the BBC Symphony Chorus.
The BBC and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office jointly run BBC Monitoring, which monitors radio, television, the press and the internet worldwide.
In the 1980s, the BBC developed several PCs, most notably the BBC Micro.
Union membership is a private matter between staff and their chosen union: staff are not automatically covered by a union, but since the BBC is a large employer (in the media sector), membership numbers are considerable.
Staff at the BBC are normally represented by BECTU, along with journalistic staff by the NUJ and electrical staff by Amicus. Union membership is optional, and paid for by staff members and not by the BBC.
The BBC was the only television broadcaster in the United Kingdom until 1955 and the only legal radio broadcaster until 1968 (when URY obtained their first licence ). Its cultural impact was therefore significant since the country had no choice for its information and entertainment from these two powerful media.
Even after the advent of commercial television and radio, the BBC has remained one of the main elements in British popular culture through its obligation to produce TV and radio programmes for mass audiences. However, the arrival of BBC2 allowed the BBC also to make programmes for minority interests in drama, documentaries, current affairs, entertainment and sport. Examples are cited such as I, Claudius, Civilisation, Tonight, Monty Python's Flying Circus, Doctor Who and Pot Black, but other examples can be given in each of these fields as shown by the BBC's entries in the British Film Institute's 2000 list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes. Planet Earth is to this day the biggest selling Blu-Ray High Definition title around the world.
The BBC's putative objective of providing a service to the public, rather than just entertainment, has changed the public's perception in a wide range of subjects from health to natural history. The export of BBC programmes, the BBC World Service and BBC World have meant that BBC productions have also been experienced worldwide.
The term BBC English (Received Pronunciation) refers to the former use of Standard English with this accent. However, the organisation now makes more use of regional accents in order to reflect the diversity of the UK, though clarity and fluency are still expected of presenters.  From its 'starchy' beginnings, the BBC has also become more inclusive, and now attempts to accommodate the interests of all strata of society and all minorities, because they all pay the licence fee.
Competition from Independent Television, Channel 4, Sky and other broadcast television stations, has slightly lessened the BBC's reach, but nevertheless it remains a major influence on British popular culture. Many popular everyday sayings are derived from BBC-produced television shows.