United Kingdom Culture

United Kingdom Culture and Mass Media

Newspapers in United Kingdom

According to A2ZGOV.COM, United Kingdom is a country located in Europe. The British media landscape is characterized by a very large range concentrated to a few owners in each area. The industry has changed at an ever-faster pace since the beginning of the 2000s and follows largely the same pattern as in other welfare states.

Above all, it is new technology in the IT sector that has fundamentally changed media consumption and the business models that have carried the traditional media.

In recent years, the journalists’ working methods have also been increasingly questioned by revelations about, among other things. illegal tapping and demands have been made on stricter legislation to protect the privacy of citizens.

Internet and mobile telephony

More than 83% of Britons have access to the internet (2014), but access is increasing as more and more people connect via mobile broadband. Global sites like Facebook and Google are the most visited. Of the domestic players, only the state-controlled radio and TV company BBC is included in the top ten list.

There are four mobile operators with their own network. The biggest is Everything Everywhere, which is owned by French France Télécom and German T-mobile. The others are Spanish O2, British Vodafone and Hong Kong-owned 3. In addition, there are about forty virtual operators.

Almost all media players have operations on the Internet. The quality magazine Daily Telegraph was the first European daily newspaper with a website when it launched Electronic Telegraph in 1994. The BBC was also early on and has a very extensive digital business. In 2013, the company put £ 177 million (about SEK 2 billion) on the Internet.

The BBC’s investment on the Web has attracted a lot of criticism from representatives of the daily press who say it is about unhealthy competition as the BBC is free of advertising and licensed. At the same time, the traditional media, especially the daily newspapers, find it difficult to find functioning business models for their digital business

Radio and TV

Private radio broadcasting started in 1922 and was taken over in 1927 by the state which gave public service responsibility to an independent organization, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), funded with recipient fees. Advertising radio was started regionally in the 1970s and nationwide channels were started in the early 1990s.

In 2014, the BBC had 10 national stations and some 30 local ones. In addition, there is BBC World Service with broadcasts in English and a further 27 languages. There are also about 300 commercial stations and just under 150 local radio channels.

The BBC started TV broadcasts in 1936, which were canceled in 1939 by the Second World War and resumed in 1946 after the end of the war.

Advertising TV started in the mid-1950s with public service assignments.

In 2012, there are four public service companies with analogue terrestrial broadcasts that reach all households: BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. In addition, there are almost 500 channels via cable or satellite. The analogue network will be switched off and replaced by terrestrial digital TV.

Daily Press

The British daily press is struggling with sharply declining editions and a shrinking advertising market. The ten national newspapers all have extensive Internet activities, but high visitor numbers do not in any way offset the lost revenue. First and foremost, it is the previously profitable subtitle markets that have been taken over by other network operators. At the same time, ad prices and buyers’ revenues have plummeted when, in some cases, editions have almost halved in the last ten years. The quality magazine The Guardian is an example of this.

The Guardian has been on the internet since 1995 and is one of the world’s most visited news sites with about 5 million unique visitors per day (2014). The Guardian has been acclaimed for its innovative journalism on the Internet, including blogs, citizen journalism, interactive graphics and timelines. But the media house Guardian News and Media, which includes the Sunday newspaper The Observer, has lost, on average, in the years 2009-13 equivalent to about 1 million Swedish kronor a day on the printed and digital editions.

The media house is owned by a foundation, the Scott Trust, and has no profit requirements. The losses are partly offset by revenue from the Foundation’s other media operations.

The traditional business model has also been challenged by free newspapers such as Metro, which started in 1999 and had a circulation of just over 1.3 million copies in 2014. (Metro in the UK has no connection to Metro International which is part of the Swedish Stenbecks sphere).

The British national daily press can be divided into two main groups, quality and sensation newspapers. The national newspapers also have special Sunday editions that come out under their own name and are made by completely separate editors.

Unlike in Sweden, the daily press has a much more pronounced political agenda and usually takes political positions in news articles as well. It is also common for the editorial staff of the national newspapers to interact privately with high politicians, which is seen as unethical in Sweden.

The quality newspapers include the Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Guardian and Independent. The largest is the Daily Telegraph with just over 500,000 copies. and at least Independent with just over 60,000 items. (2014).

One of the world’s most reputable business newspapers, the Financial Times, is headquartered in London. The magazine’s printed edition is about 300,000 copies, but the magazine belongs to the exceptions in terms of profitability on the Internet and has succeeded in paying for its digital content and reaches over 2.2 million readers daily.

Among the sensation magazines, The Sun is the largest with a circulation of just over 2 million copies. (2104). The magazine is owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s News International.

In 2011, Murdoch shut down The Sun’s Sunday newspaper News of the World after revealing that the magazine’s journalists were engaged in illegal interception and bribed both police chiefs and individual police officers to get information about mainly celebrities. The newspaper was then the country’s largest with an edition of almost 2.8 million copies. In 2014, former editor-in-chief Andy Coulson (born 1968) was sentenced to 18 months in prison for the interceptions and two other journalists received a six-month prison sentence.

Britain has a rich flora of local and regional press. A total of about 1,000 titles are published, of which just over 90 are published daily and the remainder once a week. Just under 400 are free newspapers (2014).

The local press is not as hard hit by profitability problems as most people have a monopoly position in their publishing area.

The history of the British press is closely linked to the development of the printing press, which was introduced in England in 1476 by the bookmaker William Caxton. In the 16th century, newsletters and pamphlets began to be printed. Requests of the Devonshyre and Cornyshe Rebelles, published in 1549, count as the first known newsletter.

The first daily newspaper in the United Kingdom was The Daily Courant (1702–35) and the first more significant journalist Daniel Defoe, who in 1704–13 published the Weekly Review, a precursor to, among other things. Richard Steeles Tatler (1709–11) and Spectator, published by Steele and Joseph Addison (1711–12, 1714). The oldest of today’s national newspapers is The Times, founded in 1788.

1855 is an important year in British press history. Then the high stamp duty on each sold ransom number was abolished and the price of a newspaper could be lowered to a quarter of what it previously cost. That year, several newspapers went into daily publishing and 17 new newspapers were founded.

The whole of the 20th century was a golden age for the daily press with ever increasing circulation, despite the competition from radio and TV. From 1980, new printing technology and desktop publishing have resulted in significantly cheaper production. Trade union agreements such as This meant that only graphic artists and not journalists were allowed to use computers, however, that production costs could not be lowered when the new technology was introduced.

All this changed when Rupert Murdoch in 1986 moved News Corporation’s newspapers The Times, Sunday Times, The Sun and News of the World from Fleet Street newspaper street to Wapping in the Docklands port area.

For several months, he had secretly manned the new printing presses with affiliated electricians while negotiating with the printing workers’ union about the move to Wapping. When the negotiations broke down and the printing workers went on strike in January, Murdoch moved the newspapers’ operations to Wapping overnight and laid off nearly 6,000 employees.

This gave rise to one of the bitterest labor market conflicts in British history. Those who worked in Wapping got there in buses escorted by police and several hundred police and protesters were injured during the year the strike and protests lasted.

Murdoch had the support of the Thatcher government at all times and the conflict today is seen as a breaking point when it comes to Thatcher’s goal of breaking the unions’ power. Two years after Murdoch’s move, almost all national newspapers had left Fleet Street for Docklands and completed the same technology change as Murdoch.

Weekly press and magazine

Magazines are as big a sector as the daily press with over 8,000 different titles adapted to all tastes. The largest customer magazines from the grocery chains Asda and Tesco with editions of almost 2 million copies. each. Of the paid magazines, TV Choice and What’s on TV are the largest. Both have editions of over 1 million copies.

One of the world’s most influential news magazines, liberal The Economist, is headquartered in London. The newspaper, founded in 1843, has also increased its circulation in recent years and in 2014 is printed in just over 1.5 million copies, half of which are sold in the USA.

Another magazine with great influence but with much less circulation is the conservative The Spectator, founded in 1828, focused on politics and culture. The magazine is seen as a stepping stone for a political career and several of the former editor-in-chiefs have moved on to ministerial posts within the Conservative Party.

Book and publishing system

Book industry today

The development towards large international publishing groups and media groups that started in the 1980s has been very evident in the UK and is still ongoing. New acquisitions and mergers often occur, which is why a picture of the situation at a certain time risks quickly becoming out of date. In 2013, the largest publishing group was Penguin Random House, jointly owned by the British media conglomerate Pearson plc and the German media group Bertelsmann.

The second largest was French-owned Hachette, with publishers and imprints such as Hodder, Headline, Little Brown and Orion. The third largest publisher was HarperCollins, which is part of the media magnate Rupert Murdoch’s empire.

Completely independent are Oxford University Press, leading publisher of scientific and popular science literature and Bloomsbury. The latter has been growing well since 1997, when the publisher got the rights to the Harry Potter books .

The Publishers’ Association, the British Publishers Association, reported sales of approximately £ 3.3 billion in 2012, including export sales, and the number of new titles amounted to just over 170,000.


The first book printed in Britain was “Dictes or Sayenges of the Philosophers”, produced in 1477 by William Caxton. He also published, in Bruges 1473–74, the first in English printed book, “The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye”. Caxton published more than 100 works in a total of about 10,000 copies. His most ambitious work is “The Golden Legend” (1483). Other works include “Canterbury Tales” (1478, new edition 1484) and “Chronicles of England” (1480, new edition 1482).

John Day (also Daye, Daie, 1522–84) published the Bible in folio format in 1549, in 1560 the first book of church music and in 1563 the first edition of John Foxe’s “Book of Martyrs”. From the 17th century, Robert Barker’s edition of the “King James Bible” (1611) deserves mention. William Caslon created his famous font in 1734. The other great style cutter of the century was John Baskerville.

Charles Whittingham d. (1767-1840) was the first in the UK to produce bibliographical editions (including Thomas Gray’s “Poems”, 1799), and reprinted contemporary classics (“British Classics”, 1-222 1802). He created Chiswick Press, where the “Diamond Classics” series was published 1821–31. William Morris’s printing company Kelmscott Press (1891–98) became an internationally recognized source of inspiration for the renewal of printmaking art around the turn of the 1900s.


According to APARENTINGBLOG, the UK is a leader in theater art with a long and rich dramatic tradition. In London alone there are hundreds of theaters. The Shakespeare Globe Theater was built in 1997 according to ancient tradition to recreate the Shakespeare scene that existed in the 17th century. In Edinburgh, a large theater festival is held annually.

The early highlights of British literature include the historical epic Beowulf (probably from the 7th century), Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and William Shakespeare’s Drama. The first modern novel Pamela was written by Samuel Richardson 1740-1741. The following century featured writers such as Charlotte and Emily Brontë, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens.

Of the 20th century authors, Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, EM Forster, George Orwell, Graham Greene and William Golding are among the most prominent. In recent years, the playwright Harold Pinter (2005) and novelists VS Naipaul (2001), Doris Lessing (2007) and Kazuo Ishiguro (2017) have been awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. Among a younger generation of writers are Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, Margaret Drabble, A. L. Kennedy, Monica Ali, Zadie Smith and Jeanette Winterson.

Children’s book author JK Rowling has reached many readers with the books about the sorcerer boy Harry Potter.

From the 1960s Britain became known for its rock and pop music with groups such as the Beatles, Rolling Stones and The Clash. Other big names in popular music are P J Harvey, Adele and Amy Winehouse.

The state support for the visual arts mainly goes to the purchase of works of art for public museums and galleries. The British capital is also a center for the international art market. Well-known art dealers are Sotheby’s and Christie’s.

The greatest names in art life are the painters John Constable, William Turner and Francis Bacon, the sculptor Henry Moore and the architect and designer William Morris. Tracey Emin, Lucian Freud and Damien Hirst are among the most talked about artists of recent years.

Mass Media

Freedom of the press and opinion prevails. The British press is characterized by great liberality. However, its freedom is limited by strict laws such as slander and breach of confidentiality. For example, the media may not publish information that may affect legal processes. There are laws that prohibit the publication of secret material that may threaten national interests.

In Reporters Without Borders’ ranking for 2019, the UK ranked 33 out of 180 countries, which was an improvement over the previous year. In 2010, the country was ranked 19, but slipped after that down the list. This is largely due to a new law of 2016, the Investigatory Powers Act, which means that the police and the security service without any legal investigation, or that the person involved in the detention can monitor everyone, including journalists, communication via computers and telephones.

Reporters Without Borders has also criticized the authorities’ intervention against the Guardian in 2013. Among other things, the magazine was forced to destroy hard drives containing documents leaked to American media by Edward Snowden, which showed how the NSA signal authority in the US and its British counterpart GCHQ mass-monitored telecommunications and internet communications abroad.

In August 2018, two journalists were arrested in Northern Ireland, Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey, and the police seized their investigative material. They were charged with disseminating secretly stamped information from the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman on how the then RUC police department handled the investigation into the murders of six Catholics in Loughinisland in 1994. The criminal investigation against journalists drew sharp criticism from press freedom organizations, and in June 2019 it was shut down.

In 2011, it was revealed that newspapers hacked into and intercepted a large number of private individuals’ phones. The government appointed an inquiry that the following year recommended that new laws be enacted to deal with press ethical issues and that a new independent body should be created with the right to fine those who violated the rules. There was no legislation, but a royal treaty that laid down the guidelines, and it would be voluntary to join the new press committee. However, most of the press chose to form their own press ethical organization IPSO. However, it has received criticism for being toothless, and a competing group, Impress, was founded in 2016.

The daily newspapers are largely owned by a number of large media companies, not least the American News Corporation owned by Rupert Murdoch. In order to prevent the emergence of monopoly, there is a rule that a media company must have the government’s permission to acquire a newspaper that is published in more than half a million copies. Laws also control how much of a radio and TV company a newspaper group can own.

None of the major newspaper groups have any direct connection to a political party. However, media magnates such as Rupert Murdoch, who owns, among other things, the country’s largest newspaper Sun, have a great political influence.

Over 1,000 daily and weekly newspapers are published in the UK. The biggest quality newspapers are the conservative Daily Telegraph and the Times, the Left Liberal Guardian and the Financial Times. Since spring 2016, Independent has only been released online. Tabloid magazines such as Sun, Mirror and Daily Star often contain sensation-oriented material. In addition, there are Daily Mail and Daily Express that are placed between these two groups and are called mid-market newspapers. They include Metro free magazine.

The largest daily newspapers in Scotland are the Scotsman and the Herald. In 2014, The National, a new Scottish daily, launched the idea of ​​an independent Scotland. This has happened since traditional media has received sharp criticism among the independence leavers about bias in its monitoring of the referendum that year. In Wales, the Western Mail and South Wales Echo are the largest, and in Northern Ireland the Belfast Telegraph, Irish New and News Letter.

In addition, there are a number of regional morning, evening and Sunday newspapers. The leading political journals include Economist, New Statesman and Spectator.

Declining editions, a failing advertising market and the difficulty of paying for online publications cause many newspapers to have financial problems.

There are both state and independent radio and TV. The State BBC broadcasts TV in several channels. These are financed with license fees and state funds. However, the BBC is increasingly pressured financially. In 2015, the government decided that everyone over 75 years should not have to pay TV license and that the cost of this should be borne by the BBC. The media company’s agreement with the state was renewed in 2016, but the fears that the government was trying to increase its influence over the BBC were not met.

The terrestrial TV channels are Independent Television (ITV / Channel 3), Channel 4 and Five. In Wales, the company sends S4C on Kymrisk. In addition, pay-TV channels are available. The BBC World Service radio station broadcasts around the world in a variety of languages. BBC Radio operates five nationwide and some 40 regional channels. There are also hundreds of independent local and regional radio channels.


Percentage of the population using the internet

95 percent (2018)

Number of mobile subscriptions per 100 residents

118 (2018)



Compensation for tortured Libyans

Libyan Sami al-Saad and his family are awarded over £ 2 million in damages for being arrested in Hong Kong and brought to Libya with the help of British (and US) agents. Sami al-Saad was jailed in Tripoli and tortured. The government paid the money, but acknowledged no responsibility. The role of the British intelligence service MI6 was revealed in documents discovered after the fall of the Gaddafi regime in 2011.

Plans to introduce same-sex marriage

Cameron and a number of other leading conservative politicians express their support for same-sex marriage. Plans are underway to submit a new bill on this in 2013. Conservative members have been given the right to vote as they please, but it is likely that the proposal will be passed with the help of Labor and Liberal Democrats. The issue creates tension within the Conservative Party, as many members fear that they will lose votes, especially from older voters.

The economic problems continue

According to OBR (Office of Budget Responsibility), the independent agency that makes forecasts for the government, the economy will shrink by 0.1 percent in 2012. Osborne again points out that the state budget will not be in balance until 2016-2017, a year later than planned.


Strong criticism of the press in Leveson’s report

November 29th

Judge Brian Leveson presents his final report on the British press. Harsh criticism is directed at parts of the press (and then not just News of the World) who, according to Leveson, behaved as if there were no ethical rules and who, through their actions, “destroyed” the lives of innocent people. Criticism is also directed at politicians from all parties who are considered to have had too close relations with the press. In the report, which is over 2000 pages, Leveson recommends, among other things, that new laws be passed to regulate the British press. He also wants a new independent body to be created to ensure compliance with the press ethical rules and to impose sanctions on those who violate the rules (up to a million pounds). Its members should not be allowed to be active in the newspaper industry, belong to the government or sit in parliament. Cameron is in favor of most proposals, but opposes legislation to regulate the press. A line that has strong support in the newspaper world.

No to women who are bishops in the Anglican Church

The General Synod of the Church of England votes against allowing women to become bishops. The proposal does not go through, even though it is supported by a clear majority within the Synod, because of opposition from church members. Archbishop Rowan Williams regrets this. So does Prime Minister Cameron. Even before, there is a conflict between the Anglican Church and the government that wants to introduce marriage to people of the same sex, something a majority within the church opposes.

Labor promises wages to live on

Labor is launching a campaign calling for all wage earners to receive a salary they can live on, which should be higher than today’s minimum wage of just over £ 6 (those under 21 get less than that).


The government loses EU vote in the lower house

Cameron is hard pressed for EU policy. He has said he does not intend to approve any increase in the EU’s long-term budget, but suffers a defeat in the House of Commons at the end of October, when 53 Conservative members vote with Labor demanding it be cut. The opposition’s proposal wins by 307 votes against 294 for the government side. However, the change is not binding on the government. The European Commission has proposed a 5 percent increase for the years 2014-2020, compared to the previous period. The government is accused from several quarters of not having contact with reality. This impression was reinforced by several minor events. A minister is forced to resign after quarreling with police outside the prime minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street (where he must have called them “underclassmen” and “idiots”).

The economy is growing again

Statistics show that the UK economy has started to grow again. During the third quarter, GDP rose by 1 percent.

Ready for referendum in Scotland

In the middle of the month, Cameron and Scotland’s Prime Minister Alex Salmond agree on the basic conditions for a referendum on Scottish independence (see Scotland).


Success for the UK at the London Olympics

The Summer Olympics will be held in London between July 27 and August 12. Prior to the Olympics, it should be noted that a company responsible for security has failed to employ all the personnel needed. But the event is a huge success and the host nation UK is doing exceptionally well and is in third place in the medal league after the US and China. The Olympics will also be an arena where London’s mayor, the colorful and popular Boris Johnson, gets a lot of attention, sparking speculation that he plans to try to take over the party leadership post in the Conservative Party from Cameron.


Julian Assange is seeking asylum at Ecuador’s embassy

June 19

Julian Assange, one of the founders of the whistleblower organization Wikileaks is seeking political asylum at Ecuador’s embassy in London since the Supreme Court rejected his appeal against being extradited to Sweden. In doing so, he violates the terms of the bail granted in the United Kingdom. Basically, there is a fear that he will eventually be extradited to the US and prosecuted for Wikileaks publishing leaked videos, documents and diplomatic mail that reveal, among other things, abuses that the US military has committed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Cameron wants to save on welfare

In an interview in the Daily Mail magazine in late June, Cameron announces that the Conservative Party plans to make major new cuts to the welfare system. He talks about coming to terms with what he calls “a culture of rights” within the system, but admits that several of the savings will not be possible as long as the conservative governing coalition with the Liberal Democrats. Social grants with more than three children will lose benefits and housing subsidies for people under 25 will be abolished (however, it is unclear if this applies to everyone). In order to receive a job search grant, a person must show that he / she is actively seeking work. Anyone who has not received a job within two years must instead do “community service” in order not to lose all contributions.

Cameron hears about media scandal

During the spring, the Leveson investigation continues to hear people about the eavesdropping business that flared up the year before (see July 2011 and June 2012). Several top politicians are heard, including former prime ministers John Major and Gordon Brown (before that Blair has also been interrogated). Major reveals that Rupert Murdoch tried to influence the then Conservative government’s European policy in exchange for pledge of support from the Murdoch Group’s newspapers. Prime Minister Cameron is also called for questioning. Great attention is paid to Cameron’s private friendship with Rebekah Brooks, who held a high position within the group. Brooks has been arrested in connection with the scandal and is accused of trying to hide evidence of telephone interception by police. Labor accuses Minister of Culture Jeremy Hunt of lying to the House of Commons about his role when Murdoch’s News Corporation Group 2011 proposed to take over the entire pay-TV channel BSkyB. Labor wants Hunts behavior to be investigated,

Party for the Queen

Queen Elizabeth celebrates 60 years on the throne, and the British get an extra day off to celebrate it.


Success for Labor in local elections

May 3

Local elections in England, Wales and Scotland will be a clear success for Labor, which wins 838 new municipal terms and takes the upper hand in Cardiff and Birmingham, among others. Labor is particularly good for Labor in Wales, where the party gets its best result since 1996. The major loser becomes the Liberal Democrats who lose power in their stronghold in Cambridge. Ukip notes a success with 13 percent of the vote in England, but it gives only five new municipal mandates. The turnout is low, almost every third voter has voted. Several cities Birmingham, Sheffield, Nottingham, Manchester, Bradford, Coventry, Wakefield, Leeds and Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, vote no to introduce direct mayor elections. Only Bristol votes yes. In Scotland, both the SNP and Labor are progressing, while the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats are losing mandate. In most municipalities there is no clear majority, much because Scotland uses a different, proportional, electoral system. The only major success for the Conservative Party is that Boris Johnson, with a slight margin, is re-elected as mayor of London, but the victory margin is just under three percent to Labor candidate Ken Livingstone.


Clear sign for expulsion of Islamist preacher

The European Court of Justice gives Britain the right to expel the militant Muslim preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri to the United States, where he is charged with terrorist offenses. He is accused, among other things, of supporting the al-Qaeda terrorist network and of being involved in a hostage frame in Yemen in 1998, where 16 Westerners were captured. He is also accused of participating in and organizing a terrorist training camp in the US state of Oregon. The United States requested him extradition as early as 2004. In 2006, he was sentenced to seven years in prison in the United Kingdom for incitement to murder following statements he made as an imam at the Radical Mosque in Finsbury Park in London. (Hamza is deported to the United States in October 2012).


Osborne announces new cuts

Among other things, Minister of Finance Osborne cuts child allowances for those who earn the most, and reduces the contributions for many pensioners. At the same time, the income tax for high-income earners (those who earn more than £ 150,000 a year) is reduced from 50 to 45 percent. Instead, Osborne hopes to raise money through a new 7 percent tax on sales of properties worth over £ 2 million.

United Kingdom Culture

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