The BBC's venerable weekly TV chart show "Top of the Pops," one of the longest-running programs and most iconic musical institutions in British television history, is to be axed after 42 years on air.

The BBC's venerable weekly TV chart show "Top of the Pops," one of the longest-running programs and most iconic musical institutions in British television history, is to be axed after 42 years on air.

A statement released by the state broadcaster today (June 20) cites "ever-increasing competition" from multimedia outlets that, it says, makes it impossible for the show to continue in its current weekly form.

BBC director of television Jana Bennett says "the time has come to bring the show to its natural conclusion." The last edition of the program will air in the United Kingdom July 30.

"Top of the Pops" was first aired on Jan. 1, 1964, from a converted church in Manchester, in an edition presented by DJ Jimmy Savile that featured performances by Dusty Springfield, the Rolling Stones, the Dave Clark 5, the Hollies, Cliff Richard and the Shadows, the Beatles and others. It was originally commissioned for a mere six-week run, but the show proved to be hugely instructive as a weekly barometer of musical popularity.

By the 1970s, "TOTP" had a weekly audience of 15 million viewers. It marked its 2,000th edition in 2002.

In recent years, the show had struggled to maintain its audience in the face of greatly increased competition from other broadcast outlets. In 2005, it was moved from its traditional weekday slot on BBC1 to a Sunday night slot on BBC2, after viewing figures fell below three million. The new broadcast time failed to improve audience numbers.