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UK Television

Television in the UK

While there are a huge number of channels available via satellite or cable, there are currently a 'core' of five channels available via analogue broadcast signal; BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4 and Channel 5.   

However, starting in 2008 and ending in 2012, TV services in the UK will go completely digital, region by region. This process is called digital switchover. The UK’s former television broadcast signal standard (known as “analogue”) is being removed and replaced with a “digital” signal.

The Government is responsible for the policy of digital switchover, including the 2008-2012 timetable and the establishment of a Help Scheme for those who may need practical assistance with switchover

Popular TV programmes in the UK

With a huge number of channels available via Freeview and exponentially more via cable, the choice for television viewers in the UK is wider than ever.  However, there are some programmes which have an established viewing base, and the core five channels still attract the highest viewing figures.

Magazine style programmes are particularly popular, with GMTV  standing as one of the best examples.  GMTV runs a wide variety of features, usually focusing on such topics as celebrities, fashion, news and travel, as well as running features on popular topics of the day (for example, the recent trend of finding property abroad and Australian emigration).

Serial drama programmes (more commonly known as 'soap operas') are particularly popular, with Eastenders and Coronation Street being the perennial favourites amongst viewers. Other popular types of programme include situation comedies and dramas, and while many are made in the UK, the number of 'home-grown' programmes has diminished as American imports have become more prevalent. 

Reality television, such as Big Brother and Pop Idol, has also resulted in a drop in the number of 'traditional' television programmes being broadcast, being much cheaper to produce and often drawing enormous viewing figures.

Licence fee

You need a TV Licence to use any television receiving equipment such as a TV set, digital box, DVD or video recorder, PC, laptop or mobile phone to watch or record television programmes as they're being shown on TV.

However, if you use a digital box with a hi-fi system or another device that can only be used to produce sounds and can't display TV programmes, and you don't install or use any other TV receiving equipment, you don't need a TV Licence.

The cost of a colour TV Licence is £139.50, whereas a black and white TV Licence costs £47.00. For more information and ways to pay the licence, go to the TV Licensing website.