Media Literacy Audit: Report on media literacy amongst adults from minority ethnic groups

03 April 2006

Executive Summary

The promotion of media literacy is a new responsibility placed on Ofcom arising from Section 11 of the Communications Act 2003.

Ofcom’s definition of media literacy, developed after formal consultation with stakeholders, is ‘the ability to access, understand and create communications in a variety of contexts’. Media literacy gives people the confidence and knowledge to get the most out of the many media platforms that now exist.

The focus of this report is upon the media literacy of adults from minority ethnic groups across the UK. Its purpose is to provide stakeholders with an array of information about minority ethnic group opinions and habits in relation to media literacy and to examine the extent to which such views and habits differ or not from the UK population as a whole.

We recognise that each of the seven minority ethnic groups included in this research is different, not only from the UK population as a whole but also from each other in terms of their relationship to media and communications technologies. Whilst the findings for each of the groups can give an indication of these differences they must remain indicative given these sample sizes.

This report is a supplement to a report on the findings of the audit across all UK adults. That report, Ofcom’s Media Literacy Audit: report on adult media literacy, is available at Media Literacy. The audit as a whole looks at how UK adults and children access, understand and create communications, with Ofcom’s particular focus being on electronic communications. In this context, our definition of access is much wider than availability or take-up of the platforms. Rather, it focuses upon interest, awareness, usage and competence relating to each platform. Understanding relates to how content (such as television and radio programmes, internet websites, or mobile video and text services) is created, funded and regulated.

Some of the elements of this audit - such as attitudes towards the provision of news, or knowledge of content regulation – apply to traditional analogue television and radio as well as their newer digital counterparts. But for the most part, this audit focuses on the four main digital media platforms – not only digital television and digital radio, but also the internet and mobile phones - as these are the ones where there is most divergence between different groups within the UK in terms of understanding, take-up and usage.

Our main findings are:

Across all platforms

  • Overall in terms of usage and general competence, minority ethnic groups have somewhat higher levels of media literacy compared to the UK as a whole across the digital platforms.
  • Minority ethnic groups have mostly lower levels of knowledge about how platforms are funded and regulated, and slightly lower levels of trust in news media.
  • Levels of concern about platforms are higher than the UK average, except for the internet.
  • There are proportionally more young people in minority ethnic groups than in the UK as a whole. This explains in part the overall high levels of media literacy within minority ethnic groups, as those aged under 45 tend to have much higher levels of media literacy than those aged over 45.


  • There is higher ownership of digital TV among minority ethnic groups (70%) than for the overall UK population (62%) - although Freeview penetration is markedly lower.
  • Minority ethnic groups watch less TV than all UK adults.
  • Levels of competence related to TV are generally high, and generally higher than for all UK adults.
  • Two-thirds of those from minority ethnic groups know how TV is funded and about its regulation. This figure is lower than that for UK adults overall (66% compared to 80% for all UK adults).


  • Claimed penetration of digital radio services is higher among minority ethnic groups (54%) than the UK population overall (44%). Claimed listening to digital radio services is also higher.
  • However, minority ethnic groups listen less to radio overall than all UK adults.
  • Levels of concern about radio are twice as high as for the UK as a whole, although still low in comparison to other platforms.


  • Home access to the internet is higher among minority ethnic groups (64%) than the UK population overall (54%).
  • Minority ethnic groups use the internet more frequently (14.5 hours per week compared to 9.9 for the UK overall).
  • Minority ethnic groups are slightly less concerned about the internet than all UK adults, and they are more likely to say they are happy to give out personal details online than UK adults as a whole.

Mobile phones

  • 3G mobile phones are more prevalent among minority ethnic groups, with consequent higher levels of spend, and awareness of content control systems.
  • Concerns about mobiles are dominated by affordability.

Sources of news

  • One in ten thinks the BBC on TV, radio and online is funded by government, compared to 1% of UK adults as a whole.
  • Amongst adults from minority ethnic groups levels of trust in news are somewhat lower for radio, the internet and the press than amongst all UK adults, although trust in UK-based TV news outlets is largely the same.

Attitudes and preferences

  • People from minority ethnic groups are less likely to agree that content on TV and radio should be free to be expressive and creative than UK adults as a whole. They are as likely to think that internet should be so (at just over half, or 51%). They are slightly more likely to feel that mobile phone content should be free to be expressive and creative, perhaps because of their higher levels of access to such content.
  • Around two in five adults from minority ethnic groups have experience of and interest in learning more about the media platforms. This compares with around one in five with experience of and two in five interested in learning amongst all UK adults. Interest and experience is more common amongst younger adults from minority ethnic groups.
  • Indians, Black Caribbeans and Black Africans appear to be more interested than other minority ethnic groups in learning more, particularly about the internet and the creation of websites. In addition, for Black Caribbeans and Black Africans, community TV and radio appear to be of interest.

The full document is available below