British Broadcasting Corporation
Statutory corporation
with a Royal charter
IndustryMass media
PredecessorBritish Broadcasting Company
Founded18 October 1922; 96 years ago (1922-10-18) (as British Broadcasting Company)
1 January 1927; 92 years ago (1927-01-01) (as British Broadcasting Corporation)
FounderJohn Reith
HeadquartersBroadcasting House
London, W1
United Kingdom
Area served
Key people
RevenueDecrease £4.889 billion (2019)[1]
Decrease £−52 million (2019)[1]
Decrease £−69 million (2019)[1]
Total assetsDecrease £1.172 billion (2019)[1]
OwnerPublic owned[2][3]
Number of employees
22,401 (2019)[1] (Outside UK)

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters are at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London, and it is the world's oldest national broadcasting organisation[4] and the largest broadcaster in the world by number of employees. It employs over 20,950 staff in total, 16,672 of whom are in public sector broadcasting.[5][6][7][8][9] The total number of staff is 35,402 when part-time, flexible, and fixed-contract staff are included.[10]

The BBC is established under a Royal Charter[11] and operates under its Agreement with the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.[12] Its work is funded principally by an annual television licence fee[13] which is charged to all British households, companies, and organisations using any type of equipment to receive or record live television broadcasts and iPlayer catch-up.[14] The fee is set by the British Government, agreed by Parliament,[15] and used to fund the BBC's radio, TV, and online services covering the nations and regions of the UK. Since 1 April 2014, it has also funded the BBC World Service (launched in 1932 as the BBC Empire Service), which broadcasts in 28 languages and provides comprehensive TV, radio, and online services in Arabic and Persian.

Around a quarter of BBC's revenue comes from its commercial subsidiary BBC Studios (formerly BBC Worldwide), which sells BBC programmes and services internationally and also distributes the BBC's international 24-hour English-language news services BBC World News, and from, provided by BBC Global News Ltd. In 2009, the company was awarded the Queen's Award for Enterprise in recognition of its international achievements.[16]

From its inception, through the Second World War (where its broadcasts helped to unite the nation), to the 21st century, the BBC has played a prominent role in British life and culture.[17] It is also known colloquially as "The Beeb", "Auntie", or a combination of both (as "Auntie Beeb" or "Auntie B").[18][19]


The birth of British broadcasting, 1920 to 1922

Britain's first live public broadcast was made from the factory of Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Company in Chelmsford in June 1920. It was sponsored by the Daily Mail's Lord Northcliffe and featured the famous Australian soprano Dame Nellie Melba. The Melba broadcast caught the people's imagination and marked a turning point in the British public's attitude to radio.[20] However, this public enthusiasm was not shared in official circles where such broadcasts were held to interfere with important military and civil communications. By late 1920, pressure from these quarters and uneasiness among the staff of the licensing authority, the General Post Office (GPO), was sufficient to lead to a ban on further Chelmsford broadcasts.[21]

But by 1922, the GPO had received nearly 100 broadcast licence requests[22] and moved to rescind its ban in the wake of a petition by 63 wireless societies with over 3,000 members.[23] Anxious to avoid the same chaotic expansion experienced in the United States, the GPO proposed th