Ofcom has today published the conclusions of its third review of public service TV broadcasting, the first review since 2008. Ofcom’s review finds that the public service broadcasters BBC, ITV, STV, UTV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and S4C continue to make a significant contribution to UK broadcasting, and audience satisfaction has increased since 2008, up from 69 per cent to 79 per cent in 2014.
Viewers value PSB programmes, and audience satisfaction is high. Close to eight in ten viewers believe PSB is delivering on its purposes – such as trustworthy news and high quality programmes that reflect the UK – a notable increase from 69 per cent in 2008.
Over half of all TV viewing is to the main PSB channels, rising to over 70 per cent when all the channels broadcast by PSBs, such as time-shifted ‘+1’ channels, are taken into account.
Ofcom’s review also identified some immediate concerns: news consumption and the provision of news for young people; drama that reflects and portrays British society back to a British audience; content tailored to the specific needs of the UK nations and their regions; religious programmes; children’s programmes; and investment in music and arts.
Ofcom research found that over half (55 per cent) of respondents from black ethnic groups felt they were under-represented in PSB programmes and a similar proportion (51 per cent) felt they were negatively portrayed. Around half (51 per cent) of disabled people felt under-represented.
Ensuring PSB reflects the diversity of the UK is an area broadcasters will need to monitor closely to ensure they meet their responsibilities and audience expectations. Ofcom has partnered with the Creative Diversity Network which will, for the first time, provide data on representation that is standardised, comparable and publicly available.
Ofcom is also working with the Equality and Human Rights Commission on a ‘toolkit’ that will provide practical steps that broadcasters can take to increase diversity.
Ofcom has today also published a review of Channel 4 Corporation’s delivery of its media content duties across its full range of channels and services. The review found that Channel 4 Corporation has broadly performed well in delivering its duties over the review period (2010-2013). It has produced a broad range of relevant media content that appeals to a culturally-diverse society; made high-quality films; and broadcast and distributed that content.