UK public channel viewing falls

The viewing share of the UK’s five main public service broadcasting (PSB) channels has fallen by 12% in the past five years, broadcast regulator Ofcom says in a new report.

Ofcom’s Public Service Broadcasting Annual Report 2013 said the PSBs’ combined viewing share was 52% in 2012, down from 64% in 2007. But it added that the decline was offset by an increase in viewing to digital portfolio channels, with their combined viewing almost doubling from 12% in 2007 to 21% in 2012.

The UK regulator said large numbers of viewers continued to watch the public service channels, but that the weekly reach of BBC Two, ITV and Channel 4 had fallen over the past five years.

However, the proportion of people watching BBC One and Channel 5 every week had remained stable. BBC One’s weekly reach was 78% in 2007 and in 2012, while Channel 5′s reach was 40% in 2007 and 39% in 2012.

Ofcom’s research found that 76% of viewers of UK PSBs channels were satisfied, with news the most highly rated. More than eight in 10 of viewers said their provision of trustworthy news was important.

Spending on programming by PSBs fell by 2% in 2012, confirming a decline of 13% over the past five years. Thus fall came in spite of a 14% increase on first-run sports rights spending to £563m because of the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics.

Some £2.9bn was spent on programming across the channels, Ofcom said.

Between 2007 and 2012, “first-run spend across the five main PSB channels and the BBC digital channels decreased by 13% (£384m) in real terms; the reductions in spend were most substantial on BBC Two (down 28%), while ITV/ITV Breakfast, Channel 4 and the BBC digital channels all recorded a decline of 13%.”


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