Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
British Forces Broadcasting Service
The British Forces Broadcasting Service was established by the British War Office (now the Ministry of Defence) in 1943. Today it provides radio and television programmes for HM Forces, and their dependents, in Germany, Gibraltar, Cyprus, Falkland Islands, Belize, Brunei, Canada, Bosnia, Kosovo and the Middle East.
Since the 1980s, BFBS has formed part of the Services Sound and Vision Corporation (SSVC), a registered charity, which is also responsible for the British Defence Film Library, SSVC Cinemas, and Combined Services Entertainment, providing entertainment for HM Forces around the world. Neither BFBS Radio nor BFBS Television carry commercial advertising.
BFBS Radio broadcasts on local FM and other frequencies. There are now two BFBS Radio services:
- BFBS Radio 1 - popular music and local community radio
- BFBS Radio 2 - news, current affairs and sport
Many of the programmes on Radio 2 are sourced from BBC Radio Four and BBC Radio Five Live, including the soap opera The Archers, which was popular in Hong Kong until BFBS ceased broadcasting after the handover to China in 1997. BFBS Radio also provides programmes in Gurkhali, for the Gurkha units serving with the British Army.
BFBS Television first started in Germany in 1975, using taped broadcasts from the BBC and ITV, but now broadcasts live via satellite. Videotapes are still sent to forces serving in more remote areas. There is also a service known as BFBS Navy TV, which broadcasts time-shifted versions of the channel to Royal Navy vessels around the world via military satellite.
Most programmes come from the BBC, ITV, and Channel 4, including news from BBC News 24, Sky News, ITN, and sport from the BBC and Sky Sports. BFBS also has its own programmes, including the magazine programme BFBS Reports, the lifestyle programme Hung, Drawn and Quartered and the children's request programme Room 785.
BFBS Television is encrypted in some areas for copyright reasons, as it is intended solely for HM Forces and their families. Until 1997, it was widely available in Cyprus, but its signal is now encrypted or restricted to the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia as local broadcasters had bought local rights to show English football. However, it is watched by civilians in the Falkland Islands, where it is the only local TV service. Since 2001 there are two BFBS Television services:
- BFBS TV 1 - general entertainment, sport, news, documentary programming - for a more general audience
- BFBS TV 2 - general entertainment, sport - the so-called 'lads channel', (only available in operational areas)
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