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The prominence of the English language gives the UK media a widespread international dimension.
BBC Television Centre. The BBC is the largest and oldest broadcaster in the world.
The Channel 4 building.
There are five major nationwide television channels in the UK: BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, Channel 4 and Five - currently transmitted by analogue terrestrial, free-to-air signals with the latter three channels funded by commercial advertising. In Wales, S4C the Welsh Fourth Channel replaces Channel 4, carrying Welsh language programmes at peak times. It also transmits Channel 4 programmes at other times.
The BBC is the UK's publicly funded radio, television and internet broadcasting corporation, and is the oldest and largest broadcaster in the world. It operates several television channels and radio stations in both the UK and abroad. The BBC's international television news service, BBC World News, is broadcast throughout the world and the BBC World Service radio network is broadcast in thirty-three languages globally, as well as services in Welsh on BBC Radio Cymru and programmes in Gaelic on BBC Radio nan Gàidheal in Scotland and Irish in Northern Ireland.
The domestic services of the BBC are funded by the television licence, a legal requirement for any British household with a television receiver that is in use to receive broadcasts, regardless of whether or not the householders watch BBC channels. Households which are the principal residence of any person over 75 are exempt and the requirement does not extend to radio listeners. The BBC World Service Radio is funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the television stations are operated by BBC Worldwide on a commercial subscription basis over cable and satellite services. It is this commercial arm of the BBC that forms half of UKTV along with Virgin Media.
The UK now has a large number of digital terrestrial channels including a further six from the BBC, five from ITV and three from Channel 4, and one from S4C which is solely in Welsh, among a variety of others.
The vast majority of digital cable television services are provided by Virgin Media with satellite television available from Freesat or British Sky Broadcasting and free-to-air digital terrestrial television by Freeview. The entire country will switch to digital by 2012.
Radio in the UK is dominated by BBC Radio, which operates ten national networks and over forty local radio stations. The most popular radio station, by number of listeners, is BBC Radio 2, closely followed by BBC Radio 1. There are hundreds of mainly local commercial radio stations across the country offering a variety of music or talk formats.
Traditionally, British newspapers could be split into quality, serious-minded newspaper (usually referred to as "broadsheets" due to their large size) and the more populist, tabloid varieties. For convenience of reading, many traditional broadsheets have switched to a more compact-sized format, traditionally used by tabloids. The Sun has the highest circulation of any daily newspaper in the UK: 3.1 million, approximately a quarter of the market. Its sister paper, the News of the World has the highest circulation in the Sunday newspaper market, and traditionally focuses on celebrity-led stories. The Daily Telegraph, a right wing broadsheet paper, is the highest-selling of the "quality" newspapers. The Guardian is a more liberal "quality" broadsheet and the Financial Times is the main business newspaper, printed on distinctive salmon-pink broadsheet paper.
First printed in 1737, The News Letter from Belfast, is the oldest known English-language daily newspaper still in publication today. One of its fellow Northern Irish competitors, The Irish News, has been twice ranked as the best regional newspaper in the United Kingdom, in 2006 and 2007.
Scotland has a distinct tradition of newspaper readership (see list of newspapers in Scotland). The tabloid Daily Record has the highest circulation of any daily newspaper outselling the Scottish Sun by four to one while its sister paper, the Sunday Mail similarly leads the Sunday newspaper market. The leading "quality" daily newspaper in Scotland is The Herald, though it is the sister paper of The Scotsman, the Scotland on Sunday, that leads in the Sunday newspaper market.
The Beatles are one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed bands in the history of music, selling over a billion records internationally.
Various styles of music are popular, from the indigenous folk music of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, to Heavy metal. Glasgow's contribution to the music scene was recognised in 2008 when it was named a United Nations City of Music, one of only three cities in the world to have this honour.
Prominent among the UK contributors to the development of rock music in the 1960s and 1970s were The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Status Quo, Slade, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Queen, and Black Sabbath. Heavy metal, hard rock, punk rock and New Wave were among the variations that followed. In the early 1980s, UK bands from the New Romantic scene such as Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, Spandau Ballet, Soft Cell and Ultravox were prominent. In the 1990s, Britpop bands and electronica music attained international success. More recent pop acts, including The Smiths, Oasis, Amy Winehouse, Leona Lewis, Coldplay, and the Spice Girls, have ensured the continuation of the UK's massive contribution to popular music.
Notable composers of Classical music from the United Kingdom and the countries that preceded it have included William Byrd, Henry Purcell, Sir Edward Elgar, Sir Arthur Sullivan (most famous for working with librettist Sir W. S. Gilbert), Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Benjamin Britten, pioneer of modern British opera.
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