What is the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 20 September 2019
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The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a major news media organization headquartered in London, England. In addition to providing extensive national media within England, the network also broadcasts worldwide to over 120 million people in 38 languages. Worldwide coverage can be picked up in an astounding number of places, thanks to an extensive network of transmitters and partner stations, and correspondents are on the scene of most major breaking news, from military coups to flooding.

As of 2007, the BBC was the largest broadcasting corporation in the world, and one of the most respected worldwide. The organization prides itself on content that “informs, educates, and entertains,” from hard hitting news journalism to popular comedy shows. It broadcasts both television and radio, and it maintains numerous websites to further disseminate information. In addition, it sometimes provides funding assistance to films that the organization deems important.

In 1922, a group of communications companies founded the British Broadcasting Company, Limited. In 1927, by royal charter, this company was turned into the BBC, making it a public company that held a monopoly on communications in Britain until 1972. The network introduced television to England in 1932, and provided a running radio commentary on World War II that was avidly listened to all over the world. Throughout its history, the BBC has constantly tried to innovate technologically, adopting new advances in technology early and expanding upon them.


In Britain, the network is funded by television license fees, which every television-owning family in Britain must pay. The BBC World Service is funded by government grants, and the whole organization is managed by the BBC Trust, which is responsible for maintaining the organization's integrity and accountability. The Trust is meant to protect the interests of the British public, and its staffing is entirely separate from the BBC itself to ensure a maximum level of autonomy.

In Britain, it is very easy to pick up BBC service on television and radio. Abroad, the local service can be picked up with a shortwave radio or through participating local stations that carry the network's programs. The BBC also has several overseas television divisions that produce locally relevant media. Anyone with access to the Internet can use the organization's many websites for print news, streaming media, and a variety of other media presentations.


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