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Public Service Broadcasting Annual Report 2013

08 Awst 2013

Executive summary

Ofcom has a duty to assess the designated public service broadcasters, taken together, in terms of the delivery of their 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, ITV, 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.

Audience impact

  • Audiences continue to value PSB programming. Ofcom’s PSB Tracker shows that audience ratings of the importance of the PSB purposes and characteristics (-1-) remained high in 2012:
    • The statements which ranked the highest in terms of importance related to Purpose 1: 85% of UK adults rated highly the importance of ‘Its news programmes are trustworthy’  as did 78% for ‘ Its regional news programmes provide a wide range of good quality news about my area’.
    • Well-made, high quality programmes’ ranked the highest characteristic, with 82% saying it was important, followed by over three-quarters (78%) rating ‘It shows programmes I want to watch’ as important.
  • Overall satisfaction with all the main PSB channels combined remains high, with four in five (76%) of those who ever watch any PSB channel claiming to be either quite, or very, satisfied. This is broadly in line with results seen in 2011 (80%).
  • Opinions of the delivery of PSB purposes and characteristics continued to vary: 
    • The statements that ranked highest on delivery were related to Purpose 1: 64% of UK adults scored the delivery of ‘Its news programmes are trustworthy’ highly, while ‘ Well-made, high quality programmes’ was the highest-ranking characteristic, at 59%, followed by ‘It shows programmes I want to watch’ (51%).
    • The lowest levels of perceived delivery among the purposes were ‘It portrays my region fairly to the rest of the UK (40%)’ and ‘Its programmes show different kinds of cultures within the UK’ (43%).  The lowest ranked characteristics were, ‘It shows pr ogrammes with new ideas and different approaches’, ‘ It shows programmes that make me stop and think’ (both 44%) and ‘ It shows new programmes, made in the UK’ (46%).


  • Average weekly reach figures (-2-) for BBC One (78% in 2007, 78% in 2012) and Channel 5 (40% in 2007, 39% in 2012) have remained fairly stable between 2007 and 2012. Over the same period, the average weekly reach of ITV (70% to 64%), BBC Two (58% to 52%) and Channel 4 (59% to 51%) have declined.
  • Viewing of the PSB channels (including BBC digital portfolio channels) has remained relatively stable over the last five years, from 2.4 hours per day in 2007 to 2.3 hours in 2012, according to BARB (-3-).
  • Between 2007 and 2012, BBC Two, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 have each seen a decline in their respective share of viewing (while BBC One saw its share fall between 2007 and 2011, there was a slight increase in 2012). In 2007 the aggregated viewing share of the five main PSB channels stood at 64%; this declined to 52% in 2012, a 12% point decrease. However, this decline is offset by an increase in viewing to their digital portfolio channels, with aggregated viewing almost doubling from 12% in 2007 to 21% in 2012.

Programming spend and output

  • Total spending on PSB network programming across the five main PSB channels and the BBC digital channels decreased by 2% in real terms in 2012; to £2.9bn. This reduction continues the 17% real-terms decrease in spend over the past five years.
  • Spending on first-run originated programmes across the five main PSB channels and the BBC digital channels increased marginally by 0.3% year on year to £2.5bn.  2012 was a big year for sport, with the London Olympics and Paralympics, and first-run spend on sports was subsequently up 14% to £563m.
  • Year-on-year real-term spending on originations varied by channel. The most pronounced increase in expenditure was for BBC One, up by £55m to £797m, while BBC Two saw an almost corresponding decline (in absolute terms) of £46m to £286m. ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 all maintained a similar level of spending on first run content in 2012 compared to 2011, at £756m, £385m and £100m respectively.
  • Over the five-year period 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%.
  • In line with the marginal increase in investment in first-run originated content year on year, hours of first-run programming increased in 2012 by 187 hours; from 32,167 to 32,354 in 2012.  All of this increase was driven by the BBC, which increased first-run hours by 320 hours, while the commercial PSBs combined (ITV/ITV Breakfast, Channel 4 and Channel 5) saw a decline of 133 hours.
  • Although not designated PSB channels, £91m was spent on first-run originations by the commercial PSBs on their digital portfolio channels in 2012, down 4.2% (or £4m) over five years in real terms.  ITV and Channel 4 spent £54m and £36m respectively on originations across their digital portfolio channels in 2012, while Channel 5 spent £1m.

Nations and regions programming

  • Spend on nations and regions first-run originations by the BBC (-4-) and Channel 3 combined declined 4% year on year to £266m in 2012. BBC’s spending declined by 4% to £183m, while ITV declined 3% to £83m. Over the five-year period from 2007 the decline in spending is more pronounced, with total spend on first-run originations in the nations and regions down 30% (BBC spend down 19% and ITV by 46%).  Between 2007 and 2012, total hours of nations’ and regions’ output was down by 857 hours (or 7%) from 11,859 hours to 11,002.
  • In the devolved nations, Channel 3’s share of viewing to the main weekday evening nations’/regions’ news fell in Northern Ireland by five points to 34%, stayed stable in Wales at 18% and increased in Scotland by two points to 27%. BBC One’s share fell by six points in Wales from 35% in 2007 to 29% in 2012; in Northern Ireland it fell by two points to 26% and increased in Scotland by three points; from 27% to 30%.
  • Audience opinion in the devolved nations on the provision of nations’/regions’ news varied by channel and nation, with viewers in Northern Ireland the most likely to state that ‘ Its regional news programmes provide a wide range of good quality new about my area’ (71%) compared to both England and Scotland (60% and 61% respectively).


  1.- See Figure 1 for a description of the PSB purposes and characteristics

  2.- Reach is defined as those viewing 15 consecutive minutes at least once in the average week.

  3.-It should be noted that a new BARB panel was introduced in 2010. Consequently data pre- and post-panel changes is based on different panels and therefore are not strictly comparable; findings should be considered with caution.

  4.- Note: Spend data for first-run originations only. Spend excludes Gaelic and Welsh language programming but includes some spend on Irish language programming by the BBC. This does not account for total spend on BBC Alba or BBC spend on S4C output.

The full documents are available below