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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
Company typePublic broadcasting
IndustryMass media
PredecessorBritish Broadcasting Company
Founded18 October 1922; 101 years ago (1922-10-18)
FounderJohn Reith
George Villiers
Broadcasting House, London, England
United Kingdom
Area served
Key people
Richard Sharp
(Chairman of the BBC)
Tim Davie
ProductsBroadcasting, radio, web portals
ServicesTelevision, radio, online
Revenue£5.086 billion (2011/12)[1]
290,000,000 pound sterling (2021) Edit this on Wikidata
−120,000,000 pound sterling (2023) Edit this on Wikidata
Total assetsBBC Television
OwnerUnited Kingdom government
Number of employees
20,916 (2015/16)

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a British public service broadcaster headquartered at Broadcasting House in London. Originally established in 1922 as the British Broadcasting Company, it evolved into its current state with its current name on New Year's Day 1927. The oldest and largest local and global broadcaster by stature and by number of employees, the BBC employs over 21,000 staff in total, of whom approximately 17,900 are in public-sector broadcasting.

The BBC was established under a royal charter, and operates under an agreement with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Its work is funded principally by an annual television licence fee which is charged to all British households, companies, and organisations using any type of equipment to receive or record live television broadcasts or to use the BBC's streaming service, iPlayer. The fee is set by the British Government, agreed by Parliament, and is used to fund the BBC's radio, TV, and online services covering the nations and regions of the UK. Since 1 April 2014, it has also funded the BBC World Service (launched in 1932 as the BBC Empire Service), which broadcasts in 28 languages and provides comprehensive TV, radio, and online services in Arabic and Persian.

Some of the BBC's revenue comes from its commercial subsidiary BBC Studios (formerly BBC Worldwide), which sells BBC programmes and services internationally and also distributes the BBC's international 24-hour English-language news services BBC World News, and from BBC.com, provided by BBC Global News Ltd. In 2009, the company was awarded the Queen's Award for Enterprise in recognition of its international achievements in business.

Since its formation in 1922, the BBC has played a prominent role in British life and culture. It is colloquially known as the Beeb or Auntie.

The British Broadcasting Company Ltd was formed on 18 October 1922 as a business. In 1927 it was changed into the British Broadcasting Corporation under a royal charter, which allows it to broadcast radio. It started television broadcasting in November 1936. This stopped during the Second World War when there was only radio. During the war, Winston Churchill delivered 33 major wartime speeches on BBC radio.[2]

The BBC World Service broadcasts radio news, speech and discussions in more than 40 languages to many countries. It is banned in Russia and China. It was started in 1932 when it was aimed at English speakers across the British Empire. Until 2014 it was paid for by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

In 2006,[3] the British Government looked at the charter to see if it needed changing.

Another agreement, which goes with the Charter, recognises that the BBC should be independent from any other organisation. It also says what the BBC should do for the people in Britain (the public).

Every household in the UK that watches or records "live" programmes (as they’re being broadcast), or watches BBC iPlayer, must, by law, pay for a TV Licence. As the BBC gets its money from TV licences, it does not take money from companies or shareholders, so it does not have to do what they want. Also, it is not allowed to broadcast commercials in the middle of a programme, although it can show commercials in between programmes.

The BBC makes extra money in several ways. One way is by selling its programmes to other broadcasting companies. Another way is by selling audio tapes and CDs of its best radio programmes, and videos and DVDs of its best television programmes. Still another way is by selling books based on programmes, and magazines about science and natural history.

Radio Times

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In 1923, BBC Magazines started publishing a magazine which printed listings of the week's BBC radio and television programmes in the United Kingdom. The magazine was called the Radio Times. In 1991, the magazine began to print listings of programmes broadcast by other providers in the United Kingdom. Today the magazine is still printed and provides online listings too. It also prints stories about programmes, the people who make them, and the people who appear in them. The Radio Times is one of the best selling magazines in the United Kingdom. In August 2011, the BBC agreed to sell the magazine to Exponent, if Britain's Office of Fair Trading approves.[4]

BBC Report

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The BBC has to publish a report every year, which tells people what it has done and how much money it has made and spent.

If someone has a complaint about something broadcast by the BBC, they can complain to the BBC, the BBC Trust, or directly to Ofcom, the government's regulator of broadcasting.


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The headquarters of the BBC is Broadcasting House in Portland Place, London. The BBC also has other offices such as the BBC Television Centre in White City, London, BBC Radio Berkshire, as well in other cities like Cardiff, Belfast, Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Southampton and Newcastle upon Tyne. Rather than hire local reporters everywhere, the BBC's journalists work in many countries across the world. This means BBC workers are sometimes in danger, especially in war zones. Most recently Alan Johnston was kidnapped and held hostage for many months in Gaza before being safely released.

BBC iPlayer

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Between October 2005 and 28 February 2006, the BBC offered a service called the BBC iPlayer on their website - bbc.co.uk. It allowed people to catch up on the last seven days of TV and radio on the BBC. Users could either watch (stream) it or download the content on their computers. The downloading options are for Microsoft Windows computers and Apple devices. The iPlayer service was released to the public on 25 December 2007. The slogan for BBC iPlayer is 'Making the Unmissable, Unmissable.'


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  1. "Part 2 - The BBC Executive's Review and Assessment" (PDF). BBC Annual Report 2011/12. London, United Kingdom: BBC. 16 July 2012. p. 62. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
  2. Sterling, Christopher (2004). Encyclopedia of Radio 3-Volume Set. Routledge. p. 524.
  3. Review, Great Britain: Parliament: House of Lords: Select Committee on the BBC Charter (2006-03-03). Further Issues for BBC Charter Review: 2nd Report of Session 2005-06. The Stationery Office. ISBN 978-0-10-400824-9.
  4. Sweney, Mark (16 August 2011). "BBC Worldwide agrees £121m magazine sell-off". The Guardian.

Other websites

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