Question: ‘Explain how broadcasting in a deregulated Britain offers more or less choice, depending on your point of view.’
The 1990 Broadcasting Act brought about a huge shift in British broadcasting, allowing broadcasters to operate much more freely in various ways. With this freedom, one might assume, would come more choice, as broadcasters compete in a larger and more varied marketplace for even larger audiences with, thanks to lucrative advertising and sponsorship opportunities, even larger budgets. However, as I will show, although deregulation has created more choice in British broadcasting in some ways for some people, its effects and implications have not been so positive in other ways for other people.
In the 1990 Broadcasting act it brought out some changes and one of them was that the Government intervention into broadcasting content was to be reduced, but they had to still provide taste, decency and quality. This meant that on tele there was more freedom and previously it was more limited on what was screened on the channels, this included things such as sex and swearing. This creates more choice for the audience as they could watch different shows that could show things such as sex or bad language rather than before which was strictly against this. However this may not appeal to an older audience, as they do not agree with this type of behaviour shown on television.
The next thing that was introduced was that subscription television to increase, with new methods of transmission encouraged. This included bringing in subscription television such as Sky, Freeview and Virgin media on demand. This gave an audience a lot more choice into what they wanted to watch, and allowing companies to make niche channels to appeal to their taste. However the problem with subscription television is that not everyone can afford to pay monthly to watch more channels. I did a class experiment in who had subscription tele, who had non-subscription tele and who had Freeview. I found out that 75% had subscription tele which was 50% Sky and 25% Virgin media and only 25% had non-subscription tele. This shows that the larger percentage of people is willing to pay monthly for more channels to watch the programmes they want. This is why Freeview is good for most audiences as it is a one off payment for more channels for life or until the methods of transmission changes. Especially in today’s society everyone soon with have switch to digital, which is going to cost everyone a quite a lot of money as they will have to buy a new television.
The next thing was advertising and sponsorship of programming to be allowed in new ways, and advertising rates to be kept in checked by increased competition. For example now a company can sponsor a programme such as Coronation Street is sponsored by Harvey’s the furniture store, Dominos pizza for Britain’s Got Talent and Kiddicare.com sponsors Katie And Peter Stateside. This also allows for more space for advertising and also the advertising can be scheduled to be on when the target audience is watching. This will increase the money that companies get in, as there is more chance it will be watched and also it would be cheaper to advertise. The problems with this is that channels such as ITV show adverts during the middle of a programme which some viewers find annoying or unnecessary. Whereas the BBC is the opposite and doesn’t show adverts in the middle of programmes.
The next thing is competition between broadcasters to be encouraged that would mean moving away from the BBX and ITV duopoly. This allowed more channels to be shown, which gave the audience more choice of what they wanted to watch. These could be certain channels for different audiences such as music channels there are a number of different radio stations such as kiss and Israeli channels. Also they include things such as cooking channels, sport channels and shopping channels. This gives the audience more choice into watching or listening to something they really are interested rather than just anything. However the terrestrial channels still keep quite safe in showing programmes that would appeal to a wide audience, and could only get the benefits of individual channels if they paid for it.
The next thing is the introduction of a fifth terrestrial channel and more satellite services. This would give the ITV and the BBC more competition, as it is free to everyone with terrestrial TV. However the problem with channel 5 is that not everyone can receive the signal therefore you can only get it on subscription tele.
Overall I think that broadcasting in a deregulated Britain offers both more and less as it depends on the audience and if they have subscription or non-subscription tele. However I think since The 1990 Broadcasting Act has given television programmes a lot more choices and more freedom with the programmes they choose to do.