Реферат: Some features of today's British life
From 1981 to 1989 the British economy experienced eight years of sustained
growth at the annual average rate over 3%. However, subsequently Britain and
other major industrialized nations were severely affected by recession. In
Britain growth slowed to 0.6% in 1990, and in 1991 gross domestic product
(GDP) fell by 2.3%. GDP fell in 1992 as a whole by 0.4%, but it rose slightly
in the second half of the year. The recovery strengthened during the first
part of 1993; with GDP in the second quarter being 2% higher than a year
earlier; the European Commission expected Britain to be the fastest growing
of all major European economies in 1993 and1994.
Recent indications that the recovery is under may include:
· an increase in manufacturing output;
· a steady upward trend in retail sales;
· increases in new car registrations;
· record levels of exports;
· increased business and consumer confidence; and
· signs of greater activity in the housing market.
The Government’s policy is to ensure sustainable economic growth through low
inflation and sound public finances. The Government’s economic policy is set
in the context of a medium-term financial strategy, which is revived each
year. Within this strategy, monetary and fiscal policies are designed to
defeat inflation. Short-term interest rates remain the essential instrument
of monetary policy.
Macroeconomic policy is directed towards keeping down the rate of inflation
as the basis for sustainable growth, while micro-economic policies seek to
improve the working of markets and encourage enterprise, efficiency and
flexibility through measures such as privatization, deregulation and tax
The economy is now benefiting from substantially lower interest rates. In
September 1993 base interest rates were at 6%. They had been cut by 9
percentage points since October 1990, and were at their lowest since 1977.
Private enterprises generate over three-quarters of total domestic income.
Since 1979 the Government has privatized 46 major businesses and reduced the
state-owned sector of industry by about two-thirds. The Government is taking
measures to cut unnecessary regulations imposed on business, and runs a
number of schemes which provide direct assistance or advice to small and
In some sectors a small number of large companies and their subsidiaries are
responsible for a substantial proportion of total production, notably in the
vehicle, aerospace and transport equipment industries. Private enterprises
account for the greater part of activity in the agricultural, manufacturing,
construction, distributive, financial and miscellaneous service sectors. The
private sector contributed 75% of total domestic final expenditure in 1992,
general government 24 % and public corporations 1%.
About 250 British industrial companies in the latest reporting period each had
an annual turnover of more than £500 million. The annual turnover of the
biggest company, British Petroleum’, makes it the llth largest industrial
grouping in the world and the second largest in Europe. Five British firms are
among the top 25 European Community companies.
The service industries, which include finance, retailing, tourism and
business services, contribute about 65% of gross domestic product and over
70% of employment. Britain is responsible for some 10% of the world’s exports
of services; overseas earnings from services amounted to 30% of the value of
exports of manufactures in 1992. The number of employees in services rose
from over 13 million in 1982 to 15.5 million by the end of 1992, much of the
rise being accounted for by growth in parttime (principally female)
Average real disposable income per head increased by nearly three-quarters
between 1971 and 1990 and this was reflected in a rise in consumer spending
of financial, personal and leisure services and on the maintenance and
repair of consumer durables. Demand for British travel, hotel and catering
services rose as real incomes in Britain and other countries increased. The
spread of home ownership, particularly during the 1980s, increased demand for
legal and state agency services.
Britain is a major financial centre, housing some of the world’s leading
banking, insurance, securities, shipping, commodities, futures, and other
financial services and markets. Financial services are an important source
of employment and overseas earnings. Business services include advertising,
market research, management consultancy, exhibition and conference
facilities, computing services and auction houses.
By the year 2000, tourism is expected to be the world’s biggest industry,
and Britain is one of the world’s leading tourist destinations. The industry
is Britain’s second largest, employing nearly 7% of the workforce. Retailing
is also a major employer and Britain has an advanced distribution network. An
important trend in retailing is the growth of out-of-town shopping centres.
The computing services industry continues to be one of the fastest-growing
sectors of the economy, and information technology is widely used in
retailing and financial services.
A notable trend in the services sector is the growth of franchising, an
operation in which a company owning the rights to a particular form of
trading licenses them to franchises, usually by means of an initial payment
with continuing royalties. The main areas include cleaning services, film
processing, print shops, hair-dressing and cosmetics, fitness centres,
courier delivery, car rental, engine tuning and servicing, and fast food
retailing. It is estimated that franchising’s share of total retail sales is
over 3%, a figure which is likely to increase.
The strength of the regular armed forces, all volunteers, was nearly 271,000
in mid-1993 — 133,000 in the Army, 79,300 in the Royal Air Force (RAF) and
58,500 in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. There were 18,800 women personnel
— 7,500 in the Army, 6,800 in the RAF, and 4,400 in the Royal Navy.
British forces’ main military roles are to:
· ensure the protection and security of Britain and its dependent
· ensure against any major external threat to Britain and its allies; and
· contribute towards promoting Britain’s wider security interests
through the maintenance of international peace and security.
Most of Britain’s nuclear and conventional forces are committed to NATO and
about 95% of defence expenditure to meeting its NATO responsibilities. In
recognition of the changed European security situation, Britain’s armed
forces are being restructured in consultation with other NATO allies.
Under these plans, the strength of the armed forces is being cut by 22%,
leaving by the mid-1990s some 119,000 in the Army, 70,000 in the RAF and
52,500 in the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines. This involves reductions in
main equipment of:
· three Tornado GR1 squadrons, four Phantom squadrons, two Buccaneer
squadrons and part of a squadron of Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft;
· 12 submarines, nine destroyers and frigates and 13 mine
· countermeasures ships; and
· 327 main battle tanks.
Civilian staff employed by the Ministry of Defence will be reduced from
169,100 in 1991 to 135,000.
As a member of NATO, Britain fully supports the Alliance’s current strategic
concept, under which its tasks are to:
· help to provide a stable security environment, in which no country
is able to intimidate or dominate any European country through the threat or
use of force;
· serve as a transatlantic forum for Allied consultations affecting
member states’ vital interests; deter from aggression and defend member
states against military attack; and
· preserve the strategic balance within Europe.
THE PRESS, RADIO AND TELEVISION
National Daily and Sunday Papers.
The British buy more newspapers than any other people except Swedes and the
Japanese. The daily press differs in two obvious ways from that of any
similar western European country. First, all over Britain most people read
“national” papers, based in London, which altogether sell more copies than
all eighty-odd provincial papers combined. Second, there is a striking
difference between the five “quality” papers’ and the six mass-circulation
These characteristics are still more salient with the Sunday press. Almost no
papers at all are published in Britain on Sundays except “national” ones: six
“popular”’ and five “quality” based in London. Three appear on Sundays only;
the others are associated with dailies which have the same names but
different editors, journalists and layouts. The “quality” Sunday papers
devote large sections to literature and the arts. They have colour
supplements and are in many ways more like magazines than newspapers. They
supply quite different worlds of taste and interest from the “popular”
Scotland has two important “quality” papers, “The Scotsman” in Edinburgh and
the “Glasgow Herald”.
The dominance of the national press reflects the weakness of regional
identity among the English. The gap in quality is not so much between Labour
and Conservative, as between levels of ability to read and appreciate serious
news presented seriously. Of the five quality morning papers only “The Daily
Telegraph” is solidly Conservative; nearly all its readers are Conservatives.
“The Times” and “Financial Times” have a big minority of non-Conservative
readers. Of the popular papers only the “Daily Mirror” regularly supports
Labour. Plenty of Labour voters read popular papers with Conservative
inclinations, but do not change their publican opinion because of what they
have read. Some of them are interested only in the human interest stories and
in sport, and may well hardly notice the reporting of political and economic
Except in central London there are very few newspaper kiosks in town
streets. This may be because most pavements are too narrow to have room for
them. In towns the local evening papers are sold by elderly men and women who
stand for many hours, stamping their feet to keep warm. Otherwise, newspapers
can be bought in shops or delivered to homes by boys and girls who want to
earn money by doing “paper-rounds”.
Most of the newspapers are owned by big companies, some of which have vast
interests in other things, ranging from travel agencies to Canadian forests.
Some have been dominated by strong individuals. The greatest of the press
“barons” have not been British in origin, but have come to Britain from
Canada, Australia or Czechoslovakia. The most influential innovator of modern
times is partly Indian, and spent his early years in India. He pioneered the
introduction of new technology in printing.
Among the “quality” papers the strongly Conservative “Daily Telegraph” sells
more than twice as many copies as any of the others. It costs less to buy and
its reporting of events is very thorough. The “Financial Times” has a
narrower appeal, but is not narrowly restricted to business news. “The
Guardian” has an old liberal tradition, and is in general a paper of the
The most famous of all British newspapers is “The Times”. It is not now, and
has never been, an organ of the government, and has no link with any party.
In 1981 it and “The Sunday Times”’ were taken over by the international press
company of the Australian Rupert Murdoch, which also owns two of the most
“popular” of the national papers. Its editorial independence is protected by
a supervisory body, but in the 1980s it has on the whole been sympathetic to
the Conservative government. The published letters to the editor have often
been influential, and some lead to, prolonged discussion in further letters.
Under the Murdoch regime it has continued a movement away from its old
The popular newspapers are now commonly called “tabloids”, a word first used
for pharmaceutical substances compressed into pills. The tabloid newspapers
compress the news, and are printed on small sheets of paper. They use
enormous headlines for the leading items of each day, which are one day
political, one day to do with crime, one day sport, one day some odd
happening. They have their pages of political report and comment, short,
often over-simplified but vigorously written and (nowadays) generally
responsible. They thrive on sensational stories and excitement.
The two archetypal popular papers, the “Daily Mail”’ and “Daily Express” were
both built up by individual tycoons in the early 20th century. Both
had a feeling for the taste of a newly-literate public: if a man bites a dog,
that’s news. The “Daily Express” was built up by a man born in Canada. He
became a great man in the land, a close friend and associate of Winston
Churchill, and a powerful minister in his War Cabinet. The circulation of the
“Daily Express” at one time exceeded four million copies a day. Now the first
Lord Beaverbrook is dead, and the daily sales are not much more than half of
their highest figure. The history of the “Daily Mail”, with its more
conventional conservatism, is not greatly different.
In popular journalism the “Daily Mirror” became a serious rival of the
“Express” and “Mail” in the 1940s. It was always tabloid, and always devoted
more space to picture than to text. It was also a pioneer with strip
cartoons. After the Second World War it regularly supported the Labour Party.
It soon outdid the “Daily Express” in size of headlines, short sentences and
exploration of excitement. It also became the biggest-selling daily
newspaper. For many years its sales were about four million; sometimes well
Until the 1960s the old “Daily Herald” was an important daily paper
reflecting the views of the trade unions and the Labour Party. Then it went
through several changes, until in the 1970s its successor, “The Sun”, was
taken over by Mr Murdoch’s company. In its new tabloid form it became a
right-wing rival to the “Daily Mirror”, with huge headlines and some nudity.
In the 1980s its sales reached four million and exceeded the “Daily Mirror”.
Mr Murdoch’s News International already owned “The News of the World”’, a
Sunday paper which has continued to give special emphasis to scandals. But by
1990 its sales were only two-thirds of their former highest figure of eight
For a very long time the press has been free from any governmental
interference. There has been no censorship, no subsidy. But for several
decades it has seemed that some newspapers have abused their freedom. In
competing with one another to get stories to satisfy a public taste for
scandal, reporters and photographers have been tempted to harass individuals
who have for one reason or another been involved, directly or indirectly, in
events which could excite public curiosity. Prominent people of all kinds, as
well as obscure people who come into the news as victims of crimes or
accidents, have been pursued into their homes for photographs and
Local and Regional Papers.
Local morning papers have suffered from the universal penetration of the
London-based national press. Less than 20 survive in the whole England, and
their combined circulation is much less than that of “The Sun” alone. Among
local daily papers those published in the evenings are much more important.
Each of about 70 towns has one, selling only within a radius of 50 to 100
kilometres. The two London evening papers, the “News” and “Standard”,
together sold two million copies in 1980, but they could not survive, and
merged into one, now called “The London Evening Standard”.
Most local daily papers belong to one or other of the big press empires,
which leave their local editors to decide editorial policy. Mostly they try
to avoid any appearance of regular partisanship, giving equal weight to each
major political party. They give heavy weight to local news and defend local
interests and local industries.
The total circulation of all provincial daily newspapers, morning and evening
together, is around eight million: about half as great as that of the
national papers. In spite of this, some provincial papers are quite
prosperous. They do not need their own foreign correspondents; they receive
massive local advertising, particularly about things for sale.
The truly local papers are weekly. They are not taken very seriously, being
mostly bought for the useful information contained in their advertisements.
But for a foreign visitor wishing to learn something of the flavour of a
local community, the weekly local paper can be useful. Some of these papers
are now given away, not sold out but supported by the advertising.
The Weekly and Periodical Press.
Good English writing is often to be found in the weekly political and
literary journals, all based in London, all with nationwide circulations in
the tens of thousands. “The Economist”, founded in 1841, probably has no
equal everywhere. It has a coloured cover and a few photographs inside, so
that it looks like “Time”’, “Newsweek” or “Der Spiegel”, but its reports have
more depth and breadth than any these. It covers world affairs, and even its
American section is more informative about America than its American
equivalents. Although by no means “popular”, it is vigorous in its comments,
and deserves the respect in which it is generally held. “Spectator” is a
weekly journal of opinion. It regularly contains well-written articles, often
politically slanted. It devotes nearly half its space to literature and the
“The Times” has three weekly supplements, all appeared and sold separately. The
“Literary Supplement” is devoted almost entirely to book reviews, and covers
all kinds of new literature. It makes good use of academic contributors, and
has at last, unlike “The Economist”, abandoned its old tradition of anonymous
reviews. “New Scientist”4, published by the company which owns the
“Daily Mirror”, has good and serious articles about scientific research, often
written by academics yet useful for the general reader.
One old British institution, the satirical weekly “Punch”’, survives, more
abrasive than in an earlier generation yet finding it hard to keep the place
it once had in a more secure social system. Its attraction, particularly for
one intellectual youth, has been surpassed by a new rival, “Private Eye”,
founded in 1962 by people who, not long before, had run a pupils’ magazine in
Shrewsbury School. Its scandalous material is admirably written on atrocious
paper and its circulation rivals that of “The Economist”.
Glossy weekly or monthly illustrated magazines cater either for women or for
any of a thousand special interests. Almost all are based in London, with
national circulations, and the women’s magazines sell millions of copies.
These, along with commercial television, are the great educators of demand
for the new and better goods offered by the modern consumer society. In any
big newsagent’s shop the long rows of brightly covered magazines seem to go
on for ever; beyond the large variety of appeals to women and teenage girls
come those concerned with yachting, tennis, model railways, gardening and
cars. For every activity there is a magazine, supported mainly by its
advertisers, and from time to time the police bring a pile of pornographic
magazines to local magistrates, who have the difficult task of deciding
whether they are sufficiently offensive to be banned.
These specialist magazines are not cheap. They live off an infinite variety
of taste, curiosity and interest. Their production, week by week and month by
month, represents a fabulous amount of effort and of felled trees. Television
has not killed the desire to read.
Radio and Television.
Since the 1970s 98% of British households have had television sets able to
receive four channels, two put out by the BBC, two by commercial companies.
Commercial satellite and cable TV began to grow significantly in 1989-1990,
and by 1991 the two main companies operating in Britain had joined together
as British Sky Broadcasting. By 1991 about one household in ten had the
equipment to receive this material.
Every household with TV must by law pay for a licence, which costs about the
same for a year as a popular newspaper every day.
Unlike the press, mass broadcasting has been subject to some state control
from its early days. One agreed purpose has been to ensure that news, comment
and discussion should be balanced and impartial, free of influence by
government or advertisers. From 1926 first radio, then TV as well, were
entrusted to the BBC, which still has a board of governors appointed by the
government. The BBC’s monopoly was ended in 1954, when an independent board
was appointed by the Home Secretary to give licences to broadcast
(“franchises”) to commercial TV companies financed by advertising, and called
in general independent television (ITV). These franchises have been given
only for a few years at a time, then renewed subject to various conditions.
In 1990 Parliament passed a long and complex new Broadcasting Act which made
big changes in the arrangements for commercial TV and radio. The old
Independent Broadcasting Authority, which had given, franchises to the
existing TV and radio companies, was abolished. In its place, for TV alone, a
new Independent Television Commission was set up in 1991, with the task of
awarding future franchises, early in the 1990s, either to the existing
companies or to new rivals which were prepared to pay a higher price. The
Commission also took over responsibility for licensing cable programme
services, including those satellite TV channels which are carried on cable
networks. The new law did not change the status of the BBC, but it did have
the purpose of increasing competition, both among broadcasters and among
producers. It envisaged that a new commercial TV channel, TVS, would start in
the early 1990s.
The general nature of the four TV channels functioning in 1991, seems likely
to continue, with BBC1 and ITV producing a broadly similar mixture of
programmes in competition with each other. ITV has a complex structure. Its
main news is run by one company, Independent Television News, its early
morning TV— a.m. by another. There are about a dozen regional companies which
broadcast in their regions for most each day, with up to ten minutes of
advertisements in each hour, between programmes or as interruptions at
intervals of twenty or thirty minutes. These regional companies produce some
programmes of local interest and some which they sell to other regions, so
that for much of each day the same material is put out all through the
country. Some of BBCl’s programmes are similarly produced by its regional
stations. BBC2 and the independent Channel 4 (which has its own company) are
both used partly for special interest programmes and for such things as
By international standards it could reasonably be claimed that the four regular
channels together provide an above-average service, with the balance giving
something to please most tastes and preferences. Some quiz-shows and “soap
operas”’, or long-running sagas, attract large numbers of viewers and to some
extent the BBC competes for success in this respect. But minority preferences
are not overlooked. In Wales there are Welsh-language programmes for the few
who want them. There are foreign language lessons for the general pubic, as
well as the special programmes for schools and the Open University2.
BBC news has always kept a reputation for objectivity, and the independent news
service is of similar quality.
Television is probably the most important single factor in the continuous
contest for the public’s favour between the political parties. Parties and
candidates cannot buy advertising time. At intervals each channel provides
time for each of the three main political parties for party-political
broadcasts, and during an election campaign a great deal of time is provided
for parties’ election, always on an equal basis.
Minor parties get time, based partly on the number of their candidates. In
Wales and Scotland the nationalist parties get TV time on the same basis as
the three others. Studios and transmitters must be provided free of charge.
But often a party prefers to film a broadcast outside the studio at its own
expense, for greater impact.
BBC TV Europe broadcasts some of its own programmes by satellite, and from
1991 BBC TV International began to sell and distribute its World Service TV
news in English and some other languages.
The BBC’s Radio 4 is the main general interest radio service, with some items
run by regional studios. Radio 3 is for minority interests, including music,
“2” for light entertainment, “1” for pop music and “5” for sport, education
and children’s programmes. There are also several dozens local BBC radio
stations, covering the whole country. The world wide radio service has been
established for long time, and is the activity of the BBC to receive a
The BBC runs several dozens of local radio stations, which compete with
independent commercial rivals, financed by advertisements. All provide a
mixture of local news and comment, with some entertainment matter, mainly pop
music, in between. In the 1990s there should be one or more new commercial
radio stations broadcasting nationwide, including one “non-pop” station,
possibly for continuous broadcasts of classical music.