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Public Service Broadcasting Annual Report 2012

Published 28|06|12

Executive summary

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 Communications Act 2003. Ofcom's Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) Annual Report provides an evidence base for assessing the delivery of PSB on the five main PSB channels (BBC One, BBC Two, ITV1, Channel 4 and Channel 5), the BBC digital channels and S4C. Further information relating to the evidence base can be found in the appendices and data tables available with this report.

  • Total spending on PSB network programming across the five main PSB channels and the BBC digital channels decreased by 8% in real terms in 2011 to £2.8bn. This reduction is a continuation of the 20% decrease in spend over the past five years. A similar trend was evident for first-run originated programmes, with expenditure 6% lower than 2010 at £2.4bn. This continues a year-on-year decline (with the exception of 2010); over the five-year period; spending was down by 18% in real terms.
  • 2011 was a quiet year for sport, with first-run spend on sport down by 23% compared to 2010; excluding sports from first-run spending, investment in network programming in 2011 fell by 0.3% year on year.
  • Year-on-year real-term spend on first-run originations varied across channels. Expenditure rose by the biggest percentage on Channel 5, up by 45% to £95m, while in absolute terms, Channel 4's spending increase was greatest (up by £35m to £372m). The most pronounced percentage reduction in first-run investment in 2011 was on BBC One, down by 16% to £719m; in absolute terms, BBC One spend also fell by the greatest amount, down by £140m.
  • Over a five-year period, first-run spend across the five main PSB channels decreased by 18%; the reductions in spend were most substantial on Channel 5 (down 27%) and ITV1/ITV Breakfast (down by 22%). Significant reductions in first-run content spend were also made by Channel 4 (down by 18%) and on BBC One (down by 17%).
  • Despite the year-on-year decline in investment in first-run originated content, hours of first-run programming increased in 2011 by 295 hours; from 31,872 in 2010 to 32,167 in 2011. All of this increase was driven by the commercial PSBs combined (ITV1/ITV Breakfast, Channel 4 and Channel 5) which increased first-run hours by 495 in 2011, while the BBC saw a decline of 200 hours on this measure.
  • Viewing of television appears to have increased since 2006 (from 3.6 to 4.0 hours per day in 2011, as in 2010), according to BARB . Viewing of the five main PSB channels declined between 2006 and 2009 (2.5 hours per day to 2.3 hours per day), but in 2011 moved back closer to 2006 levels at 2.4 hours, although this is lower than in 2010 (2.5 hours per day).
  • The proportion of people watching BBC One in a typical week has increased over the past five years from 77% in 2006 to 79% in 2011. BBC Two has grown from 52% to 54%, whereas ITV1, Channel 4 and Channel 5 have each shown decreases (ITV1 from 69% to 67%, Channel 4 from 57% to 53% and Channel 5 from 42% to 40%).
  • Each of the five main PSB channels has seen a decline in its share of television consumed. In 2006 their aggregated viewing share stood at 67% and decreased to 54% in 2011. At the same time their digital portfolio channels have each increased in share: in total they increased from 9% in 2006 to just under 20% in 2011. As a result the combined share of the five main PSBs and their digital portfolio channels stood at 73% in 2011, against 76% in 2006.
  • 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 2011:
    • The statements which ranked the highest in terms of importance related to Purpose 1: 81% of UK adults rated highly the importance of 'its news programmes are trustworthy' as did 76% for 'its regional news programmes provide a wide range of good quality news about my area'.
    • Well-made, high quality programmes' was considered the most important characteristic, at 78%.
    • The statements which ranked the lowest in terms of importance were 'it shows high quality soaps or dramas made in the UK' and 'its programmes show different kinds of cultures with the UK', with 53% and 58% of UK adults respectively rating these as highly important.
  • In 2011, opinions of the delivery of the PSB purposes and characteristics continued to vary:
    • The statements that ranked highest on delivery were related to Purpose 1: 62% of UK adults scored the delivery of 'its news programmes are trustworthy' highly, as did 61% for 'its programmes help me understand what's going on in the world'.
    • 'Well-made, high quality programmes' was the highest-ranking characteristic, at 59%. Over four in ten of all audiences thought the PSB channels delivered well for most other purposes and characteristics.
  • Lower performance scores were given to both Purpose 3 and 4: 'Reflecting and strengthening our cultural identity' and 'Making us aware of different cultures/viewpoints'. The results showed that just over four in ten (43%) thought the PSB channels did well on 'portraying my region fairly to the rest of the UK' and 'Its programmes show different kinds of cultures within the UK'.
  • Overall satisfaction with all the main PSB channels combined remains high, with four in five (80%) of those who ever watch any PSB channel claiming to be either quite, or very, satisfied

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