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1.5.4 Religion

Christianity arrived in Britain in the first or second centuries and existed in­dependently of the Church of Rome after it was founded in the 5th century. Eventu-

ally the Christian Church of England came under Papal authority after the Synod of Whitby in 664, when King Oswiu of Northumbria decided to follow Roman rather than Celtic rituals and recognize the Pope as the head of the church. It then separated from Rome in 1534 during the reign of King Henry VIII, though it brief­ly rejoined during the reign of Queen Mary I in 1555.

The Protestant Church of Eng­land, or Anglican Church, is the offi­cial state church in England. The Brit­ish monarch must belong to it, but all other English people may worship as they choose. The spiritual head of the Church of England is the archbishop of Canterbury, known as the Primate of All England.

Canterbury Cathedral, left, dates back to Roman times, the first record­ed part of the building being erected in 740 AD.

The archbishops of Canterbury and York and 24 bishops have seats in the House of Lords. This gives the Church of England a formal link to the British government.

The British monarch is the constitutional Supreme Governor of the Church of England. In practice, however, the effective leadership falls to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The worldwide Anglican Communion of independent national or re­gional churches recognised the Archbishop until 2005 when the USA and Canadian churches split from the English parent over the issue of homosexual priests.

Many English people belong to other Protestant churches, known as Free Churches. The largest Free Churches include the Baptist, Methodist, and United Reformed churches.

The Church of England has about 27 million members, but most of them do not attend services regularly. There are about 4 million other Protestants and about the same number of Roman Catholics in England. The Catholic church is headed by the archbishop of Westminster. England also has about 1 million Muslims, about 400,000 Sikhs, about 300,000 Jews, and about 300,000 Hindus.

On March 12, 1994 the Church of England ordained its first female priests.

1.6 Mass media

Regular newspaper publication dates from the mid 17th century. Prior to then it was believed that the 'reckless' reporting of news might endanger the Crown and the country. A limit was placed on the printing of news other than of events abroad, natural disasters, royal declarations and crimes; there were weekly newslet­ters published from the 1620s containing such news.

The Daily Universal Register began life in 1785 and was later to become known as The Times from 1788. This was the most significant newspaper of the first half of the 19th century, but from around 1860 there were a number of more strongly competitive titles, each differentiated by its political biases and interests. The Manchester Guard­ian was founded in Manchester in 1821 by a group of non-conformist businessmen. Its most famous editor, Charles Prestwich Scott, made the Manchester Guardian into a world-famous newspaper in the 1890s. It is now called The Guardian.

In England, newspapers used to be classified by distribution as local or na­tional and by page size as tabloids and broadsheets. The principal newspapers of England and Wales are all nationals edited in London. There is often an implication that tabloids cater for more vulgar tastes than broadsheets. This distinction began to be blurred in October 2003 as two broadsheet newspapers - The Independent and The Times - began to trial tabloid editions in some parts of the U.K. Both changed format to what they prefer to call a compact edition in 2004.

There are daily paid local papers in most of the larger cities, and weekly paid papers in some other areas. These focus on local news and do not attempt to be a direct substitute for the London based national newspapers. Most areas also typi­cally have one or more free local papers, with extensive classified advertising.

Today there are 15 major national daily newspapers that publish every day except Sunday and 8 major national Sunday papers.

The media is dominated by the British Broad­casting Corporation (BBC), which was established by a Royal Charter in 1927.

The BBC logo right

The BBC is an autonomous corporation run by a board of governors appointed by the government for a term of four years and it operates under license as the na­tional publicly-funded broadcaster of the United Kingdom. Each household with a TV set is obliged to pay an annual licence fee which funds the BBB, known col­loquially as the "beeb".

BBC News claims to be the largest broadcast news gathering operation in the world, providing news through BBC network television and radio as well as BBC News 24, BBC Parliament, BBC World, BBCi, the internet and teletext. BBC News is based at the News Centre at Television Centre but operates regional centres across the UK and bureaux around the world. Political coverage is based in Westminster. The News Centre brought radio and TV news operations together for the first time and produces almost 100 hours of output every day.

On July 5 2004 the BBC celebrated 50 years of television news, the first bulletin -.vas broadcast in 1954.

There are two BBC "Free-to-air" analogue stations in the UK, BBC One and BBC Two, and there are currently seven BBC "Free-to-air" digital stations in the '_"!< The BBC's wholly-owned commercial subsidiary, BBC Worldwide.

The USA