Effects of the Act
An effect of this Act was that, in the letter of the law, the television or radio companies rather than the regulator became the broadcasters, as had been the case in the early (1955-1964) era of the Independent television authority when it had fewer regulatory powers than it would later assume.
In television, the Act allowed for the creation of a fifth analogue terrestrial television channel in the UK, which turned out to be Channel 5, now renamed Five, and the growth of multichannel satellite television. It also stipulated that the BBC, which had traditionally produced the vast majority of its television programming in-house, was now obliged to source at least 25% of its output from independent production companies.
The act has sometimes been described, both as praise and as criticism, as a key enabling force for Rupert Murdoch's ambitions in Britain. It reformed the system of awarding ITV franchises, which would prove controversial when Thames Television was replaced by Carlton Television, for what some felt were political reasons (see Death on the Rock), and when TV-am, admired by Mrs Thatcher for its management's defiance of the trade unions, lost its franchise to GMTV (the then former Prime Minister personally apologised to the senior TV-am executive Bruce Gyngell). It also allowed for companies holding ITV franchises to take over other such companies from 1994, beginning the process which has led to the creation of ITV plc.
In radio, it allowed for the launch of three Independent National Radio stations, two of them on mediumwave using frequencies formerly used by the BBC, and the other on FM using frequencies formerly used by the emergency services. It set out plans for many more local and regional commercial radio stations, generally using parts of the FM band not previously used for broadcasting, which have since come to fruition. Its plans for expanding community radio would only really be developed in the 2000s.