Public Service Broadcasting: Annual Report 2010
Ofcom has a duty to assess the designated public service broadcasters, taken together, in terms of their delivery of the public service purposes as set out in the 2003 Communications Act. Ofcom's Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) Annual Report provides an evidence base for assessing the delivery of PSB.
Spending on PSB network programming across the main five PSB channels and the BBC digital channels continued to fall by almost 7% from 2008 to 2009. Spend on first-run originated programmes declined at around the same rate over this time. Since 2005 spend on first-run originations has fallen by 16%, or an average of 4% a year. Spend on Nations and regions programming showed one of the greatest declines, falling by 32% in this time.
Against the context of an increase in TV viewing, share of viewing of the main five PSB channels in multichannel homes declined from 58% in 2005 to 55% in 2009, while the combined share of the PSB portfolio channels continued to rise. In 2009 the overall share of the main five PSB channels and portfolio channels in multichannel homes did not see an increase year-on-year for the first time in three years.
However, audiences continue to value PSB programming. Ofcom's PSB Tracker shows that audience ratings of the importance of the PSB purposes and characteristics remained high in 2009. Audiences' views on the delivery of the purposes and characteristics by the PSB channels did not change significantly from 2008 to 2009. However, opinions have become more positive across a number of areas since 2006, the first year of the survey. These include the PSB channels' contribution to informing our understanding of the world, stimulating knowledge and learning, and reflecting UK cultural identity, as well as five of the seven PSB characteristics: high quality, original, innovative, challenging, and content that is widely available. The PSB channels performed less well in attitudes towards nations and regions output.
A number of contextual factors may help to explain these findings. There have been significant changes in the way audiences consume media; many people now have access to new technologies that provide more choice and control, including more digital video recorders (DVRs) and growth in the use of television and internet on-demand services. At the same time, funding of first-run originated programming has been supported by greater production efficiencies, but has also had to bear increasing distribution costs and falling advertising revenue.
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