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2 курс, 1 семестр / ВАЧ_2_текст

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Newspapers

I

The British are great newspaper readers. They used to read even more 50 years ago, when there was no competition from television, but even so almost every adult in the country reads, or at least glances at, a daily newspaper.

The high numbers reflect the fact that newspapers are not only popular with educated middle-class but also with working-class people. The more serious, weightier paper are known as broadsheets*, a term which refers to their big page size. The lighter, easier-to-read papers have a page size half as big, and are called tabloids*. The Times, Daily Telegraphe, Guardian and Independent are broadsheets; The Sun, Mirror and Star are tabloids. The Express and Mail are in between – tabloid in size, but semi-broadsheet in content.

The cultural gulf* between the broadsheets and the tabloids is enormous; it almost seems strange to call them both newspapers, A serious paper like The Independent gives long, detailed news stories with historical analysis, and carefully balanced comment which is usually separate from the news reporting. It has a lot of foreign news, it has sections on books, education and computers; it rarely mentions the National Lottery, except to discuss its organisation.

The lightest of the tabloids, The Sun, has very short items on politics and world events in which it freely mixes facts and comment; it has many pages of gossip about TV celebrities and lots of sex stories, it has competitions and horoscopes and semi-pornographic photos of women; it is obsessed with the lottery and lottery winners.

II

In spite of the apparently light content of the tabloids, they appear to have as much if not more political influence than the broadsheets. Although television has taken over as the main news provider, the law prevents TV from taking sides* in politics.

So it is left to the newspapers to support parties and give interpretations of the news. None of the daily papers is actually run by the political parties, however.

Several are owned by companies controlled by individuals: there is a tradition of rich and powerful press barons*.

Viscount Rothermere dominate the Mail; Lord Hollick, The Express. Some of these press barons are not English but from Commonwealth countries: Conrad Black of The Daily Telegraph is Canadian; Rupert Murdoch of The Sun is Australian.

Actually, Murdoch’s multinational company, News Corporation, also owns The Times, The Sunday Times and the massively popular Sunday paper News of the World, it also controls the satellite TV channel BskyB, various media companies in the USA, a satellite TV service based in Hong Kong and 70 per cent of all Australian newspapers.

TELEVISION

I

Regulation of TV in Britain is very different from regulation of the press. Whereas newspapers are mostly about news, the TV is mostly entertainment and so is subject to more rules on sex, violence and bad language. As watchdogs, there are the Broadcasting Standards Council* and the Broadcasting Complaints Commission*. They make sure, for example, that there is very little pornography on TV; and they police* the 9 p.m. watershed: the time before which all programmes must be suitable for children. Strangely, more complaints are received from the public about bad language – swearing – than anything else: the British seem to be particularly sensitive to this rather superficial* issue.

It is on the question of politics that TV rules differ most from those which apply to newspapers.

While newspapers can express any political views, or support any political party they wish to, TV channels are not permitted such freedom; they are obliged to maintain a strict balance between the political parties, to be impartial*. One programme which shows the Conservatives in a good light must be followed soon after by one which favours Labour.

The system seems quite heavy-handed*, but it is easy to see why it has come into being.

Although newspaper readership is high, people actually tend to get most of their news from television: a recent survey showed that 62 per cent rely on TV and only 17 per cent on newspapers as their main source of national news. At the same time, there are only five terrestrial TV channels* – so without regulation, one rich political party could completely dominate the news on the commercial channels. The government of the day, of whichever party, could manipulate the state-owned company, the BBC.

The BBC is not an organ of the government; it is run by governors*, some of whom are appointed by the government, but there is little political control. All political parties, complain sometimes about the BBC’s treatment of them, and that includes the party in power: the last Conservative Government often said that the BBC was against it. The BBC is funded by a TV licence fee*: everyone with a TV has to buy one each year for just over £100. The system means that the BBC can

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