In every modern country, regardless of the form of the government, the press, radio and television are political weapons of tremendous power, and few things are as indicative of the nature of a government as the way in which that power is exercised. While studying the politics of any country, it is important not only to understand the nature of the social, economic, political or any other divisions of the population but also to discover what organs of public and political opinion are available for the expression of the various interests.
Although the press in this or that country is legally free, the danger lies in the fact that the majority of people are not aware of the ownership. The press in fact is controlled by a comparatively small number of persons. Consequently, when the readers see different newspapers providing the same news and expressing similar opinions they are not sure that the news, and the evaluation of the news, are determined by a single group of people, perhaps even by one person. In democratic countries it has long been assumed that government ought, in general, to do what their people want them to do.
The growth of radio and particularly of television is as important in providing news as the press. They provide powerful means of capturing public attention. But while private enterprise predominates in the publishing fields in Great Britain, radio broadcasting monopoly, as was television until late in 1955. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), a public organization, still provides all radio programs.
I. Television / Radio
Television begun in 1936 and became really popular after 1952 (coronation of QEII)
1) British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
- runs 5 national radio stations (Radio I - 5), 2 TV networks (BBC 1, BBC2)
- offers a wide range of programmes
- financed by the sale of TV licences, programmes and publications
- must be politically neutral and commercially independent.
- only responsible to Parliament
2) Independent Broadcasting Authority (1]3A)
- runs about 40 local radio stations, 2 TV channels, operates 15 regional TV stations - has to show impartiality in controverdal matters
- has to be accurate in its news coverage
- has to observe certain standards with regard violence.
In a democratic country like Great Britain the press, ideally, has three political functions: information, discussion and representation. It is supposed to give the voter reliable and complete information to base his judgment. It should let him know the arguments for and against any policy, and it should reflect and give voice to the desired.
- Freedom of Press: the press is allowed to say what it likes without any interference by the government
- Trend towards concentration of newspaper ownership began in the early 1900s
- Monopolies and Mergers Act (1965): government is allowed to intervene if a paper is to be transferred to an owner whose papers have a daily circulation of 500,000 or more:
- a national industry
- former centre: Fleet Street, London, now Docklands
- very high circulations
- strong influence on public opinion
- mainly financed by advertising
- in the hands of a few big commercial enterprises
1) no control or censorship by state
2) letter to the editor as the most common form to express one's opinion about an article
3) Press Council:
* set up of equal number of professionals mailers and non professional members
prevention of unreasonable behaviour and untruthful reporting defence of the freedom of the press
maintenance of certain professional standards
deal with complaints against newspapers and periodicals
- Dailys and Periodicals
1) Quality papers (The Times, The Guardian)
* appeal to an educated readership
* national and international news
* great variety of topics of general interest
2) Popular papers (Today, Daily Mirror, The Sun)
appeal to everyday people
3) Regional Papers (The Scotsrnan; Eastbourne Herald)
4) Great number of weekly papers and monthly periodicals (The Weekly Telegraph)