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electronic transmission of radio and television signals that are intended for general public reception, as distinguished from private signals that are directed to specific receivers. In its most common form, broadcasting may be described as the systematic dissemination of entertainment, information, educational programming, and other features for simultaneous reception by a scattered audience with appropriate receiving apparatus. Broadcasts may be audible only, as in radio, or visual or a combination of both, as in television. Sound broadcasting in this sense started about 1920, while television broadcasting began in the 1930s.  With the advent of cable television in the early 1950s and the use of satellites for broadcasting beginning in the early 1960s, television reception improved and the number of programmes receivable increased dramatically.



The first known radio program in the United States was broadcast by Reginald Aubrey Fessenden from his experimental station at Brant Rock, Massachusetts, on Christmas Eve, 1906. Two musical selections, the reading of a poem, and a short talk apparently constituted the program, which was heard by ship wireless operators several hundred miles away. Following the relaxation of military restrictions on radio at the conclusion of World War I, many experimental radio stations—often equipped with homemade apparatus—were operated by amateurs. The range of such broadcasts was only a few miles, and the receiving apparatus necessary to hear them was mostly in the hands of other experimenters, who pursued radio as a hobby. Among the leading personalities of this early period was David Sarnoff, later of the Radio Corporation of America and the National Broadcasting Company, who first, in 1916, envisaged the possibility of a radio receiver in every home.
The first commercial radio station was KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which went on the air in the evening of November 2, 1920 

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 The UK

After World War I the first steps were taken by commercial firms that regarded broadcasting primarily as a means of point-to-point communication.  A pioneering  broadcast of the human voice from a transmitter in Ireland across the Atlantic in 1919, led to the erection of a six-kilowatt transmitter at Chelmsford, Essex. From this spot two daily half-hour programs of speech and music, including a well-received broadcast by the opera singer Dame Nellie Melba, were broadcast between 1919 and 1920. Opposition from the armed services, fear of interference with essential communications, and a desire to avoid the commercialization of radio led  to a ban on the Chelmsford broadcasts, which the Post Office claimed the rights to. Nevertheless, about 4,000 receiving-set licenses and 150 amateur transmitting licenses issued by the Post Office by March 1921 were evidence of growing interest. When these amateurs, grouped into 63 societies with a total of about 3,000 members, petitioned for regular broadcasts, their request was granted in a limited form: the Marconi Company was authorized to broadcast about 15 minutes weekly.   The first of these authorized broadcasts, from a hut in Writtle, close to Chelmsford, took place on February 14, 1922; the station call signal was 2MT. Shortly thereafter an experimental station was authorized at Marconi House in London, and its first programme went on the air May 11, 1922.

Events in the USA had demonstrated the commercial possibilities of radio but also suggested a need for greater order and control. The Post Office took the initiative in encouraging cooperation between manufacturers, and on October 18, 1922, the British Broadcasting Company, Ltd., was established as a private corporation. Only bona fide manufacturers were permitted to hold shares, and the directors of the firm, all of whom represented manufacturing interests, met under an independent chairman. The company's revenue came from half of the 10-shilling license fee for receivers and a 10-percent royalty on the sale of receiving sets and equipment. Provincial stations were provided for, and all stations were to broadcast  “news, information, concerts, lectures, educational matter, speeches, weather reports, theatrical entertainment. . . .”

Already several precedents had been established that were later followed in many other countries; of these the license revenue was the most important, but the royalty on sets and equipment was also adopted elsewhere, even after its abandonment in Britain. Because the British Broadcasting Company was a monopoly and because British radio as a result developed in a more orderly manner than elsewhere, such problems and issues of broadcasting as control of finance, broadcasting of controversy, relations with government, network organization, and public-service broadcasting became apparent, and solutions were sought in the United Kingdom earlier than elsewhere.

In 1927, upon recommendation of a parliamentary committee, the company was liquidated and replaced by a public corporation, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), answerable ultimately to Parliament but with day-to-day control left to the judgment of the Board of Governors appointed on the basis of their standing and experience and not representing any sectional interests. A key figure, the chief executive of the original company and director general of the corporation, was John Reith (later Lord Reith), whose concept of public-service broadcasting prevailed in Britain and influenced broadcasting in many other countries. The BBC retained its monopoly until the creation of the Independent Television Authority (ITA) in 1954. The BBC experimented with local radio in the late 1960s and expanded the number of local stations in the early 1970s. In 1972 the ITA became the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA), which assumed responsibility for establishing and regulating independent radio and television stations. Regional and network production companies are appointed by the IBA; the companies sell advertising time, but advertisers are not allowed to sponsor programmes. However the regulatory controls are changing rapidly at present.


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