Department for Culture Media and Sport

public service broadcasting

We encourage strong public service broadcasting, of high quality and variety.

The public service television broadcasters are:

  • the BBC, a public corporation, funded mainly by the television licence fee
  • Channel 4, a public corporation self-funded by advertising
  • S4C, a public corporation broadcasting for the fourth channel in Wales and funded by advertising  and grant-in-aid from the Government
  • ITV and Five, commercial television companies funded by advertising

Responsibility for licensing, regulating and monitoring public service broadcasters lies with the Office of Communications (Ofcom) and, in the case of the BBC, the BBC Trust.


The BBC’s Royal Charter establishes the BBC’s independence and what it does. The charter is reviewed every ten years, and the current one runs until 2016. An accompanying Framework Agreement provides further details of what the BBC must do, and how it must do it.

The BBC Trust sets the strategic direction of the BBC and oversees the Executive Board, which is responsible for the BBC’s day to day operations.