British Broadcasting Corporation
The BBC is the world's largest public broadcasting organisation. It was established in 1922 by the General Post Office as the British Broadcasting Company. John Reith, a Scottish Calvinist, was appointed its General Manager in December 1922 a few weeks after the company made its first official broadcast. The company was initially financed by a royalty on the sale of BBC wireless receiving sets from approved manufacturers.
In 1923, the BBC introduced a licence fee of 10 shillings. In 1926, following the Government's acceptance of the recommendation made by the Crawford Committee (1925–26) that the British Broadcasting Company be replaced by a non-commercial, Crown-chartered organisation, it became the British Broadcasting Corporation. The British Broadcasting Corporation came into existence on 1 January 1927, and Reith – newly knighted – was appointed its first Director General.
Experimental television broadcasts were started in 1932, using an electromechanical 30-line system developed by John Logie Baird. Limited regular broadcasts using this system began in 1934, and an expanded service (now named the BBC Television Service) started from Alexandra Palace in 1936, alternating between an improved 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 early the following year.
Television broadcasting was suspended from 1 September 1939 to 7 June 1946, during the Second World War. The BBC moved much of its radio operations out of London, initially to Bristol, and then to Bedford.
In the late 1960s the BBC reorganised and renamed their radio channels. On 30 September 1967, 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 were established in 1967, including Radio London.
In 1969, the BBC Enterprises department was formed to exploit BBC brands and programmes for commercial spin-off products. In 1979, it became a wholly owned limited company, BBC Enterprises Ltd.
In 1974, the BBC's teletext service, Ceefax, was introduced, created initially to provide subtitling, but developed into a news and information service.
In 1988 the BBC sold off the Hulton Press Library, a photographic archive which had been acquired from the Picture Post magazine by the BBC in 1957. The archive was sold to Brian Deutsch and is now owned by Getty Images. BBC Enterprises was reorganised and relaunched in 1995, as BBC Worldwide Ltd. In 1998, BBC studios, outside broadcasts, post production, design, costumes and wigs were spun off into BBC Resources Ltd.
In 1990 Radio 5 was launched as a sports and educational station, but was replaced in 1994, with Radio 5 Live. In 1997, BBC News 24, a rolling news channel, launched on digital television services and the following year, BBC Choice launched as the third general entertainment channel from the BBC. The BBC also purchased The Parliamentary Channel, which was renamed BBC Parliament. In 1999, BBC Knowledge launched as a multi media channel, with services available on the newly launched BBC Text digital teletext service, and on BBC Online.
In 2002, several television and radio channels were reorganised. BBC Knowledge was replaced by BBC Four and became the BBC's arts and documentaries channel. CBBC, which had been a programming strand as Children's BBC since 1985, was split into CBBC and CBeebies, for younger children, with both new services getting a digital channel: the CBBC Channel and CBeebies Channel. In addition to the television channels, new digital radio stations were created: 1Xtra, 6 Music and BBC7. BBC 1Xtra was a sister station to Radio 1 and specialised in modern black music, BBC 6 Music specialised in alternative music genres and BBC7 specialised in archive, speech and children's programming.
In 2003, BBC Choice was replaced by BBC Three, with programming for younger generations and shocking real life documentaries, BBC News 24 became the BBC News Channel in 2008, and BBC Radio 7 became BBC Radio 4 Extra in 2011, with new programmes to supplement those broadcast on Radio 4. In 2008, another channel was launched, BBC Alba, a Scottish Gaelic service.