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Broadcasting Legislation

Current and historical legislation concerning British broadcasting

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The BBC first started as the British Broadcasting Company (representing the interests of some radio manufacturers) and was licensed in 1923 by the Postmaster General under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1904 before being established by Royal Charter. The company was involved in television development from 1929 and in 1935 was licensed to provide a public television service.

The Independent Television Authority was established under the Television Act 1954 to provide additional television broadcasting services. Its existence was continued under the Television Act 1964 and under the Independent Broadcasting Act 1973, although its name had been changed to the Independent Broadcasting Authority by the Sound Broadcasting Act 1972 (which also permitted it to provide local sound broadcasting services).

The Broadcasting Act 1981 amended and consolidated certain provisions contained in previous legislation including the removal of the prohibition on certain specified people from broadcasting opinions expressed in proceedings of Parliament or local authorities, the extension of the IBA's functions to the provision of programmes for Channel 4 and the establishment of the Broadcasting Complaints Commission.

Cable programme services and satellite broadcasts were the subject of the Cable and Broadcasting Act 1984. This Act and the Broadcasting Act 1981 were repealed and consolidated by the Broadcasting Act 1990 which implemented proposals in the Government's White Paper Broadcasting in the 1990s: Competition Choice and Quality (Cm 517, November 1988). Earlier recommendations on the reform of the broadcasting industry had been made in the Report of the Committee on Financing the BBC (the Peacock Report) (Cmnd 9824, July 1986) and the Third Report of the Home Affairs Committee's inquiry into the Future of Broadcasting (HC Paper 262, Session 1987-88, June 1988).

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