Mae'r cynnwys hwn ar gael yn Saesneg yn unig.

Information requested from public service broadcasters

24 Chwefror 2005

Briefing note on information request to broadcasters


Ofcom’s review of public service television broadcasting (PSB) was launched by Stephen Carter at the RTS Cambridge Convention at the end of September 2003. The review is due to be completed in the late autumn of 2004.


The Communications Act (clause 264(3)) requires Ofcom to “carry out a review of the extent to which the public service broadcasters [BBC, ITV, Channel 4, S4C and Five] have [...] provided relevant television services which (taking them all together over the period as a whole) fulfil the purposes of public service television broadcasting in the United Kingdom”. The review should be conducted “with a view to maintaining and strengthening the quality” of PSB in the UK.

As part of the review, Ofcom needs to consider “the costs to persons providing relevant television services of the fulfilment of the purposes of public service television broadcasting”, as well as “the sources of income available to each of them for meeting those costs” (clause 264(7) of the Act).

Overall approach

The terms of reference document published by Ofcom (available on its web site) sets out four building blocks in the overall approach:

  • Analysis. This will include statistical analysis of the delivery of PSB over the last five years, and will involve the development of scenarios for the future development of the broadcasting sector and the implications for PSB
  • New research. A number of substantial new research projects will be conducted to underpin the analysis. These will include a major audience research study to assess viewers’ perceptions and preferences. The cost-benefits work that the ITC has developed over the last two years will also be built on and developed further as appropriate to cover all public service broadcasters
  • Expert advice. The review will draw on the experience of external advisers to complement the involvement of Ofcom’s main Board and Content Board. They will cover areas such as economic analysis, audience research, and specific editorial and content issues
  • Consultation. Detailed public consultations are built into the project plan, including two formal consultation stages as well as a series of seminars and discussion groups.

Process and timetable

The review has been divided into three phases, with the two formal consultations coming at the end of Phases One and Two:

  • Phase One: The Current Position (October 2003 - Spring 2004)
  • Phase Two: Prospects for the Future (Spring 2004 - Summer 2004)
  • Phase Three: Proposals and Recommendations (Summer 2004 - late Autumn 2004).

Phase One

Phase One will include a detailed, data-intensive review of PSB, as it is currently provided, in the context of the overall broadcasting sector. The main elements of this part of the review are:

  • audience research into what viewers believe the main aims and objectives of PSB should be
  • a statistical analysis of the delivery of PSB over the last five years, covering volume of output in different genres, expenditure on programming, ratings and audience perceptions of programmes, etc.
  • expert assessment, both from industry opinion-formers and from specialist interest groups (e.g. minority ethnic groups and disabled people), on particular aspects of PSB.

Framework for measuring the delivery of PSB

To provide a framework for the audience research and statistical analysis referred to above, we have identified four “core purposes” of PSB, based on the purposes set out in clause 264 of the Communications Act. These are:

  • Range and balance. This focuses on the programme schedules: range of different types of programming (particularly in peak), balanced investment, etc
  • Diversity. This focuses on programming targeted at different audience types, representation of different viewpoints, etc
  • Quality. This focuses on achieving excellence in programming, including high production values, originality and innovation, ambition and risk-taking, etc
  • Social values. This covers the wider benefits of television to society, including cultural identity (e.g. reflection of different parts of the UK), informed democracy (e.g. impartial news and current affairs) and educated citizens (including educational and children’s programming, as well as informative factual programming).
    Within each of these core purposes, we have specified a series of more specific objectives, as set out in the following chart:

link to accessible version of this diagram

The purpose of the statistical analysis is to help us to “tell a story” about how well PSB is being delivered. The crucial point is that this is not intended to be a purely mechanical number-crunching exercise, but rather to draw on a spectrum of information, ranging from the purely quantitative (e.g. hours of output) to the highly qualitative (e.g. audience perceptions, interviews with opinion-formers).

The indicators derived from the statistical analysis should be thought of as pieces of evidence in constructing this story. They will provide only part of the final story and will be complemented with qualitative assessment where necessary. This is reflected in our information request to broadcasters.

Information Request To Public Service Broadcasters

In order to help us to examine the extent to which the core purposes of PSB have been fulfilled, we are asking each public service broadcaster to provide data on each of their public service channels.

Our request consists of two sets of information:

  • First, we would like each broadcaster to provide data – covering the last five years (i.e. calendar years 1998-2002) – on readily quantifiable measures such as the volume of, and expenditure on, different types of programming, and the costs and revenues associated with each channel. This data is specified in a template, in the form of an Excel spreadsheet, to be returned to Ofcom
  • Second, we would like each broadcaster to provide supplementary information on its contribution to the fulfilment of each of the core purposes of PSB. This information will generally be more qualitative in nature, reflecting the fact that PSB cannot be measured purely in terms of volume and value statistics, but we would also be interested in any additional quantitative analysis that could be provided in support of any of the issues covered. For example, this analysis could address more intangible elements such as innovation, creativity, ambition and risk-taking.
    Ofcom will supplement the broadcasters’ returns with our own analysis of detailed viewing data from BARB. We will also use our main audience research study to ask respondents about their perceptions of different types of PSB programming. Ofcom will also conduct more detailed analysis of certain key PSB genres (likely to include news, regional, children’s, factual and drama programming).

We would like broadcasters to provide data separately for each of the following public service channels for each of the last five calendar years (1998-2002):

  • BBC. Volume, Value, P&L and Extra data separately for BBC 1 and BBC 2 for each year. Volume and Value data separately for each digital channel (BBC 3/Choice, BBC 4/Knowledge, News 24, CBBC and Cbeebies) for each year. P&L and Extra data combined for the digital channels for each year, plus data for each digital channel separately in 2002. NB Night-time transmissions of News 24 should be excluded from the BBC 1 data.
  • ITV. Volume, Value, P&L and Extra data for ITV1 (aggregate of all licensees and the Network Centre)
  • Channel 4, S4C and Five. Volume, Value, P&L and Extra data for the core PSB channels (including S4C Digital) for each year.
    It is important to be clear about the form of the data we need to collect on those channels which include programmes made for broadcast in the regions (“regional programming”) in addition to their network schedules, i.e. BBC 1, BBC 2 and ITV1. We would like Volume and Value data separately for the network schedule (which we define as the London schedule excluding regional programming) and for regional programming in each region. The P&L data should cover costs and revenues associated with all programming on each channel in aggregate, i.e. the network schedule plus the sum of regional programming in each region. The Extra sheet is a mixture of different types of data; we describe the data we would like in the relevant parts of this sheet.

Supplementary information

In addition to completing the data template, we would like each broadcaster to describe, and provide further evidence of, how it has contributed to the fulfilment of the core purposes of PSB, using our framework as a guide. For each purpose, this should include a commentary that highlights key trends in the data provided in the template, as well as any other relevant information and analysis. Specific issues for each core purpose are discussed below.

We would also like broadcasters to provide information on their interactive services, covering expenditure on these services and audience data. The services should be broken down into relevant categories, e.g. ongoing text services, ongoing video services (e.g. news loops), one-off text services (e.g. interactive voting) and one-off video services (e.g. sports events).

Range and balance

Data in the template allows analysis of the range of genres and scheduling patterns, based on BARB genre definitions, and of the balance of investment across genres. We have also asked for data to cover certain genres, such as drama and factual, in more detail.

We would, however, like broadcasters to provide more detailed evidence of their range of programming, particularly in peak time, that is not limited to genre analysis. For example, this should refer to different types of programming that BARB’s genre definitions do not define individually.


While it would probably be impossible to provide a definition of quality programming that is both comprehensive and incontrovertible, we have identified certain aspects of quality that we can track. This includes information on individual landmark programmes and analysis of new/returning series (as a proxy for originality and innovation). We will also examine the production values of different types of programming (these are captured in the data template).

We would welcome your views on the significance of these aspects, and any additional information that you consider demonstrates commitment to aspects of quality programming, e.g. through working with or nurturing new talent in order to encourage innovation or ambition. We would also like you to discuss how you assess quality programming, and provide relevant evidence of quality, e.g. positive critical reviews or awards.


Data from the template and from Ofcom’s analysis of viewing patterns will provide evidence of diversity of programme sources (by type and location of production company), viewing by socio-demographic groups, viewing of multicultural programmes, and provision of subtitling, signing and audio description.

We would welcome any additional evidence you consider important in demonstrating the extent to which different communities are being represented and their tastes met. This should aim to cover communities defined both by standard measures such as socio-demographic group (age, gender, social class, ethnicity, etc.) or region, and by less standard measures such as niche interest groups. The evidence should include any surveys that you have conducted into the representation of different groups, and the extent to which these groups feel their needs are met (both by programming targeted at them and by television in general).

Social values

This is the area in which the data template is likely to be least informative, and for which supplementary information would be most helpful. While broadcasters’ responses should be guided by the objectives listed in the chart above, we would particularly welcome information in the following areas:

Informed democracy

  • Evidence of audience appreciation or impact of relevant news, current affairs and other programmes and the manner in which they are delivered (e.g. news programmes tailored to specific audience groups)
  • Information on resources (e.g. international bureaux) and external sources of news
  • Information on major stories that have been individually investigated and “broken” in news and current affairs programmes
  • Evidence of trends over the past 10 years in amounts of international coverage in news, current affairs and serious factual programmes
  • Information on social action programmes and campaigns: descriptions of significant individual campaigns, investment levels, measures of impact (number of calls to help lines, etc.)
  • Investment in online news services and usage data (by key demographic groups)

Educated citizens

  • Educative elements of programmes that are not defined as being specifically educational
  • Educational initiatives and their support material: description of initiatives, forms of support and investment levels
  • Investment in online educational services and usage data (by key demographic groups)

Cultural identity

  • “Water cooler moments”: description of key programmes/events and evidence of their impact in bringing the nation, or significant communities, together (high ratings, audience appreciation indices, volume of press reports, etc.)
  • Development of new talent (e.g. writers, performers, producers): description of initiatives and investment levels
  • Support for arts and heritage: description of initiatives, investment levels and measures of impact. There should be a focus on areas specifically referred to in the Communications Act, e.g. music, film and comedy. This should include measures such as transmission of awards ceremonies, promotion of festivals, magazine programmes (e.g. Film 2003) and support for education/training courses (e.g. National Film and Television School).