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Thursday, 22 March, 2001, 18:49 GMT
From one channel to multi-media
Charles and Diana's wedding
Charles and Diana's wedding drew about 2.5bn viewers
When the BBC resumed TV broadcasting on 7 June 1946, after a long silence during World War II, it came back with a bang.

Technology had made sets even cheaper to buy. The Green Screen Wonder could be bought for just 10, made from surplus radar equipment which was common after the war.

By 1955, TV was becoming as much a fixture in the living room as the old wireless sets.

Independent Television (ITV) arrived, TV sets cost even less and many families now had higher incomes.

Key broadcast dates
1953: Queen Elizabeth II Coronation
1955: ITV transmits in London
1964: BBC2 opens
1969 Regular colour transmissions on BBC1 and ITV
1969: Live footage of men on the moon
1981: Charles and Diana's wedding (2.5 billion viewers)
1982: Channel 4 begins
1983: BBC and ITV begin breakfast TV
1989: Launch of Sky TV (satellite)
1990: BSB merges with Sky
1997: Channel 5 begins
1998: Sky Digital and ONdigital launch
With the arrival of BBC Two in 1964, the viewing public had three channels to choose from, and colour televisions were becoming popular.

And by the 1970s, the number of colour television licences shot up from 275,000 to 12 million.

Many households could now afford to have more than one TV set - something which would have been unthinkable a couple of decades earlier.

By 1979, a Sony 12-inch colour TV set would set you back 200, and the luxury of owning a Philips video cassette recorder would cost 400.

Text-based news and entertainment hit our screens during the 1980s, in the shape of Ceefax and Oracle, and televisions could also be used to play computer games.

Events such as the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 showed just what a massive medium TV had become.

The populist Channel 5 launched by the Spice Girls in 1997
The glittering spectacle, which was beamed live around the world, attracted 750 million viewers in 74 countries. It was the biggest outside broadcast to date.

The following year, the innovative new Channel 4 was created for television, and began broadcasting to an audience eager for fresh programmes.

Video recorders also arrived and their popularity rapidly grew.

Satellite technology had continued to develop apace, and in 1989, media mogul Rupert Murdoch launched Sky Television in the UK, and British Satellite Broadcasting (BSB) launched the following year.

When the two companies merged in 1990 to form BSkyB, the TV establishment had to sit up and take notice - by November 2000 it had 9.24 million subscribers.

Key radio dates
1901: Guglielmo Marconi's historic wireless broadcast
1922: BBC begins daily wireless transmissions
1939: Home Service replaces national and regional services
1945: Light Programme introduced, regional home services restarted
1967: BBC Radio 1 begins, radio networks renamed 1,2,3,4
1973: LBC and Captial radio begin
1974: Piccadilly and Radio City begin
1978: Regular broadcasting from Parliament begins
1992: Classic FM begins
1993: Virgin AM begins
1995: Talk Radio begins
The BBC got in on the satellite act in 1992, with the launch of UK Gold, a joint channel with Thames Television.

Meanwhile independent local and national radio stations began broadcasting, including Classic FM in 1992 and Virgin AM in 1993. The BBC set up the 24-hour radio news and sport network Radio 5Live in 1994.

Television continued to expand, with 1997 seeing the birth of the populist Channel 5, although it could be seen in only certain parts of the UK.

The following year, digital radio came onto on the market, offering much improved sound quality and automatic tuning, with further developments promising text news and instant replays.

And in 1998, OnDigital came hot on the heels of SkyDigital in launching digital television services.

Digital broadcasting means many more TV and radio channels can be transmitted than before, and each has consistent quality TV pictures and crystal clear sound.

Sky TV
Sky TV's 1989 launch heralded the beginning of satellite TV
With the right equipment it also becomes possible to have interactive services such as on-screen shopping, banking, internet access and e-mail.

By 2000, artists such as Madonna and Sir Paul McCartney were broadcasting concerts on the internet, attracting several million viewers between them.

Today, with our multi-set households, about 23 million homes contain about 55 million sets.

And with ever-developing technology, the outlets for broadcast are expanding, offering a wider choice than ever.

Charting its past, present and digital future
See also:

22 Mar 01 | Entertainment
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