With the start of BBC World Service Television, millions of viewers in Asia and America can now watch the Corporation's news coverage, as well as listen to it.
And of course in Britain listeners and viewers can tune in to two BBC television channels, five BBC national radio services and dozens of local radio station. They are brought sport, comedy, drama, music, news and current affairs, education, religion, parliamentary coverage, children's programmes and films for an annual licence fee of ￡83 per household.
It is a remarkable record, stretching back over 70 years — yet the BBC's future is now in doubt. The Corporation will survive as a publicly-funded broadcasting organisation, at least for the time being, but its role, its size and its programmes are now the subject of a nation-wide debate in Britain.
The debate was launched by the Government, which invited anyone with an opinion of the BBC — including ordinary listeners and viewers — to say what was good or bad about the Corporation, and even whether they thought it was worth keeping. The reason for its inquiry is that the BBC's royal charter runs out in 1996 and it must decide whether to keep the organisation as it is, or to make changes.
Defenders of the Corporation — of whom there are many — are fond of quoting the American slogan. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." The BBC "ain't broke", they say, by which they mean it is not broken (as distinct from the word "broke", meaning having no money), so why bother to change it?
Yet the BBC will have to change, because the broadcasting world around it is changing. The commercial TV channels — ITV and Channel 4 — were required by the Thatcher Government's Broadcasting Act to become more commercial, competing with each other for advertisers, and cutting costs and jobs. But it is the arrival of new satellite channels — funded partly by advertising and partly by viewers' subscriptions — which will bring about the biggest changes in the long term.
55. The world famous BBC now faces ________.
[A] the problem of new coverage
[B] an uncertain prospect
[C] inquiries by the general public
[D] shrinkage of audience
56. In the passage, which of the following about the BBC is not mentioned as the key issue?
[A] Extension of its TV service to Far East.
[B] Programmes as the subject of a nation-wide debate.
[C] Potentials for further international co-operations.
[D] Its existence as a broadcasting organisation.
57. The BBC's "royal charter" (line 3, paragraph 4) stands for ________.
[A] the financial support from the royal family
[B] the privileges granted by the Queen
[C] a contract with the Queen
[D] a unique relationship with the royal family
58. The foremost reason why the BBC has to readjust itself is no other than ________.
[A] the emergence of commercial TV channels
[B] the enforcement of Broadcasting Act by the government
[C] the urgent necessity to reduce costs and jobs
[D] the challenge of new satellite channels