British Studies Web Pages



Media - A to Z:
An Insider's Guide to the BRITISH MEDIA!

With the help of FCO materials we have compiled a guide to some of the most important elements of the Media in the United Kingdom. The links provide you with more details from other web sites – for more websites, go to our Media Links.

A is for ADVERTISING. As the UK press receives no subsidies advertising is an indispensable source of income for newspapers. Many pages in newspapers and magazines are filled with advertisements, which are called adverts for short. Advertisements on radio or television are called commercials. The Advertising Standards Authority, an independent self-regulatory organization, checks whether advertisers do not make false claims about their products. See:

B is for the BBC, the British Broadcasting Corporation founded in 1927 as an independent public corporation. It broadcasts radio programmes both home and abroad. Currently, there are five radio networks, Radios 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. The BBC started regular television services in 1932. At present it has five terrestrial TV channels that most people receive through conventional aerials.

C is for COMPLAINTS - the Press Complaints Commission will deal with your complaints about newspaper items while the Broadcasting Standards Commission will deal with those about radio and TV.

D is for DIGITAL TV, the future of TV services. To find out what changes are planned as a result of the advent of digital television go to FCO materials. Also the lectures TV in the Digital age: towards 2014 by Barry Cox, Professor of Broadcast Media at Oxford University, which can be found at the Media Guardian - look down the page for the links now on links page too.

E is for ENTERTAINMENT, one of vital roles the media play in our lives. Newspapers, magazines, television, radio, film and the internet - collectively termed “the media” inform, educate and entertain.

F is for THE FINANCIAL TIMES, the most well known financial paper in the world. Printed on pink paper everyday except Sunday, it is read by business people everywhere.  If you are interested in financial news and markets, you can read THE FINANCIAL TIMES online at:

F is also for FLEET STREET, which used to be the centre of newspaper industry. However, today all the national newspapers have moved their editorial offices to other parts of London. Despite this FLEET STREET is still a synonym  for journalism in the UK.

G is for ‘GOING ONLINE’ which is no longer the distant future as 30-40 per cent of Brits go online regularly and more than 15 million homes use the internet on a regular basis. To learn more see our article on the Internet and a book review.

H is for HACKERS defined as computer users who access remote computers without permission with the aim of obtaining confidential information of a personal or business nature. HACKERS are modern computer pirates who believe in the total freedom of the media. They also seem to think that system cracking is fun. They often have excellent computer skills and some knowledge of programming. However, authorities all over the world treat it increasingly as a crime or even a serious threat to state safety as more and more institutions such banks or the army rely entirely on computer systems.

I is for ITV, the first regular independent television programmes were broadcast 19 years after the BBC in 1955 see Today ITV (Channel 3) is made up of 15 regionally based television companies that supply programmes in 14 independent television geographical regions e.g. Anglia Television for the East of England, Yorkshire Television for Yorkshire or Scottish Television for Central Scotland see

J is for JUNK MAIL, unwanted incoming e-mails, sent by all kinds of organizations who have somehow got hold of private addresses. It is serious nuisance which may jam your mailbox completely. It is not as serious as a virus but equally unwelcome. See also SPAMMING, sending of usually unwanted messages of excessive size. David Crystal in his book “Language and the Internet” (CUP 2001) gives the origin of this term: ” … (it) lies in a 1970 Monty Python sketch in which a café waitress describes the available dishes to two customers, and culinary variation is introduced by an increasing reliance on spam – ‘Well, there’s egg and bacon; egg sausage and bacon; egg and spam, egg bacon and spam; egg bacon sausage and spam, spam bacon sausage and spam; spam egg spam spam bacon and spam; spam sausage spam spam bacon spam tomato and spam…. ‘. Etc.

K is for CATEGORY K, THE DIVERSITY AWARD CATEGORY, in the Guardian Student Media Awards. For the past 24 years The Guardian has awarded the very best student journalists, editors and photographers prizes that include cash, work experience at The Guardian and European flights from Easy Jet. In category K the judges look for student journalists whose work presents an accurate picture of the diversity of British culture – which could be viewed through race, gender, religion, sexuality or disability – or has highlighted the inequalities faced by minorities in the UK. To learn more go to: and use the search engine.

L is for LONDON WEEKEND TELEVISION (LWT) - which is the ITV channel for London at the weekend (Friday evening to Sunday night) beginning in 1967. Its South Bank Show chaired by Melvyn Bragg has the reputation as the best arts programme on UK TV.

M is for MORSE CODE, a binary code for the transmission of verbal messages devised in the 1830s by Samuel Morse, US artist and inventor. A major innovation in its time opening up the news media internationally via telegraph cables, and widely used in the past by newspapers. In the 1990s it was replaced by satellite technology, which made the radio operator tapping out of signals no longer necessary.

N is for NEW LEGISLATION always needed in this rapidly developing technological sector. 2003 will see dramatic changes in the communications sector. It is commonly expected that rules governing the media ownership and plurality of services offered to the public will be relaxed. A new communications bill is pending - and it will not be the last. See Ofcom the new UK broadcasting regulator which will take over the roles of a number of other organisations to keep updated.

N is also for the NET GENERATION, those brought up with the internet from their earliest memories and for whom it will always have been a part of everyday life.

O is for OWNERSHIP. There is an ongoing debate concerning who owns the media.

P is for PUNCH, a weekly comic magazine started in 1841and modelled on a satirical French daily. Mohamed Al Fayed now owns it. PUNCH has a lively website with a cartoon library where you can find a cartoon archive with some very interesting explanations. You can read an article on the history of the cartoon which starts with a claim that it was PUNCH that invented the cartoon, as we know it today. See: PRIVATE EYE is another and more satirical weekly

P is for the PAPER BOYS AND GIRLS who deliver newspapers from the newsagents directly to people’s homes. You have to be over 14 to be able to earn money in this way.

Q is for QUICKTIME DOWNLOAD, the Internet tool that will allow users to download software to listen to various radio channels and even to watch some films. Definitely the future of the media.

R is for REUTERS, a large British company, formed in 1851 by Paul Julius Reuter, employing  journalists all over the world and sells news to newspapers, television and radio. REUTERS also provides stock exchange information and business news. It is REUTERS journalists who very often decide what is ‘news’. If you want to read the latest news headlines from REUTERS go to:

R is also for RADIO. Radio remains extremely popular in the UK, especially in the morning - 90 per cent of British people listen  regularly. Click here if you would like to listen to the BBC Radio.

S is for SKY NEWS, the most popular source of news in the UK via satellite, though terrestrial channels still dominate - see

T is for TEN, the number of daily morning newspapers in Britain with an average total circulation of over 12 million copies on weekdays. The British people are avid newspaper readers. 35–40 million are estimated to read newspapers every day. See Newspaper Links for their websites

T is also for THE TIMES, the oldest surviving daily paper dating from 1785. It has enjoyed a high reputation in the broadsheet market by covering important home, overseas and business news. See

T is also for TIME OUT the London listings guide which started as an alternative paper in the 60s for those wanting to find out where alternative and radical events were being held, which the established media of the time did not publicise. Today it is still independent and highly regarded for its reviews, though it has lost much of the political edge - it no longer opens with Agitprop entries! It is also a publisher of tourist guides. See

U is for USERGROUP, which together with chat groups, discussion groups, newsgroups, allows people to engage in multiparty conversation online, either synchronously, in real time, or asynchronously.

V is for VIRUS ALERTS. In a very short time the Internet has emerged as an extremely powerful medium of communication. Millions of people especially in the wealthier parts of the West use e-mail and it seems to be replacing conventional ways of correspondence very rapidly. In spite of this the Internet has also its disadvantages. It is prone to viruses, which can even destroy computers physically by starting shortcuts in the computer hardware. VIRUS ALERTS have recently become quite common and are perceived as serious threat to the global communications revolution.

W is for The WEEK, a weekly selection of the best of the British and foreign media that you can read also on line at THE WEEK covers news and has such sections as: “People”, “Health and Science”, “Talking points”, “Sport” and Arts.

X is X-NET, a lively website run by Guild of Students at the University of Exeter. It contains interesting articles and audio material on the life of British students. Click here to read more:

Y is for YAHOO, a popular American search engine

Z stands for ZIP which has acquired an entirely new meaning in the Internet context. If you want to send a large amount of data over the Internet, you might want to pack it nicely before sending. WINZIP is a popular tool for packing files.


1.       Divide the alphabet up amongst the class, giving each group or pair several letters to work with, and ask students to try to add one or two more items under each letter. This should also encourage students to read Facts and Figures section on which the Media A to Z was based. Students may need to be quite creative for some letters, e.g. Y, so make sure that pairs or groups have some "easier" letters as well as the more difficult ones.

2.       The Media A TO Z can also be used to play JEOPARDY with your students. This is how you can play it: give your students the definitions from the A to Z entries. They have to guess what the question is for each definition. FOR EXAMPLE: one of the competitors or teams is given the following definition: "A British financial paper popular among business people”. They have to ask the question: "What is the Financial Times?" to win a point. The competitor or team with the highest number of points wins. Jeopardy is known in Poland as a VABANK QUIZ.

3.       You can also divide your students into two groups. One group is given entries and the other definitions. Walking freely round the room and talking to as many students as it is necessary, the members of the groups have to find matching pairs, i.e. entries and their definitions.

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