The promotion of media literacy is a responsibility placed on Ofcom by 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”. The purpose of this report is to provide a rich picture of the different elements of media literacy across the key platforms of television, radio, the internet and mobile phones. It is a report that looks specifically at adults (aged 16+) from ethnic minority groups (EMGs) within the UK population. People surveyed for this research will be of ethnic origin and may have been born in the UK or overseas but now reside in the UK. Respondents were given the option of conducting the survey in English, Punjabi, Gujarati, Urdu, French, Somali or Arabic North African.
The general UK adult population was surveyed as part of the wider Media Literacy Audit at the same time as fieldwork for this report was being conducted[ (-1-)]. Comparisons are made to the total UK adult population throughout this report, for context[ (-2-)].
Other groups reported in the Census are mixed race (1.2%), Bangladeshi (0.5%), other Asian (0.4%), Chinese (0.4%), Black other (0.2%) and other ethnic groups (0.4%).
For this report we selected the four largest ethnic minority populations living within the UK and interviewed a representative sample of 300 adults from each. The four EMGs that are covered in this report are therefore Indian, Pakistani, Black Caribbean and Black African adults.
Each chapter in this report looks at elements of media literacy within the specific ethnic minority group, structured according to the elements of Ofcom’s media literacy definition:
Access includes take-up of media devices and the internet, volume and breadth of use.
Understand includes interest and competence in using the features available on each platform, extent and levels of concern about content, trust in internet sites, trust in news, and knowledge of regulation and funding sources.
Create includes people’s confidence in engaging with creative content, and their interest in carrying out creative tasks, notably using social networking sites.
While almost everyone engages with media to some degree, the extent of media literacy varies across the UK population, and this variation is apparent across each of the three elements of media literacy outlined above. We have found that age and socio-economic group play a pivotal role in the extent of a person’s media literacy.
EMGs tend to be younger than the UK population in general. The proportions of adults aged 16-44 are:
This research has found that under-45s tend to be more engaged with digital media, and aspects such as take-up are higher among EMGs because of their younger age profile. However, we have found that while this younger age profile does influence many of the differences in media literacy measures, it is not the only influencing variable. Other socio-economic and cultural factors also appear to be playing a role.
Variations in media literacy are evident within specific EMGs, between EMGs, and when compared to the UK population in general. Within each EMG covered in this report, under-45s and ABC1s are more likely to use media devices and to be interested in their functionality – to a greater degree than their counterparts in the general UK population.
Looking across the EMGs and comparing them with the UK population as a whole, there are clear differences. Overall, people from EMGs are at the forefront of digital device take-up and use; this is particularly the case for Indians and Pakistanis. When watching television, most people are using another media device at the same time. Compared to the UK population as a whole, EMGs are more likely to live in a household which has the internet and/or a mobile phone. In general they are more interested in the various functions or interactive features available on digital media.
Indians and Pakistanis claim to spend more time online than people from the other two EMGs, and compared to the UK population in general.
When looking specifically at creative uses of media, all four of the EMGs report higher levels of downloading music and programme content as well as carrying out creative activities. Compared to the UK overall, they are more likely to upload photographs and develop social networking profiles.
With the exception of the internet, a higher proportion of EMGs are concerned about media platforms. They have greater concern about what is on the television and radio, and more concerns, in general, about gaming and mobile phones. However, concern and the types of concern vary between EMGs. The proportion of adults from EMGs who express some concern about what is on the internet is broadly similar to the UK population as a whole.
The following table summarises home ownership of digital television, internet access and personal use of a mobile phone. The multiple platform ownership measurement illustrates the proportion of people who have access to all three of these devices. The last measurement refers to the percentage of adults (16+ years) whose household is currently not connected to the internet but who intend to be connected in the next 12 months.
Key access measures
Black Caribbean adults
Black African adults
UK adults total
**Multiple platform ownership
Digital TV ownership
Mobile phone take-up
*Willingness to get internet
** Home ownership of digital television, internet and mobile phone
* Base: All adults who do not have the internet at home
Adults from EMGs are at the forefront of media take-up
The majority of EMG adults live in households which have multiple platform access. Indian, Pakistani and Black African adults are more likely to live in households with multiple platform access than are the UK population as a whole (62%-65% compared to 53% in the UK population as a whole). Across all the EMGs, take-up of media platforms is higher among under-45s and ABC1s. Among Indian and Pakistani adults, males are more likely to have access to the internet at home and use a mobile phone than are females.
Pakistani adults are more likely to have digital television (89%) than any other adults in the UK . Indian, Pakistani and Black Caribbean adults are more likely to receive their television service through satellite or cable services than through Freeview. This is perhaps not surprising, considering that satellite and cable services offer an array of international channels, including foreign news, which are known to be core drivers of take-up among EMGs[ (-5-)].
Mobile phone take-up is higher among each of the EMGs than among the UK population as a whole. In comparison, the level of in-home internet access is comparable across the UK population as a whole, Black Caribbeans and Black Africans, but significantly higher among Indian and Pakistani adults. Indians and Pakistanis also spend more time online than others.
Take-up of the internet is likely to continue at a higher level among EMGs than the general UK population over the next 12 months, based on claimed intentions
Between 24% and 36% of EMGs do not currently have internet access at home, compared with 37% of the UK population as a whole. Based on people’s claimed intentions, it is likely that internet penetration in EMG households will continue to increase over the next 12 months. However, the current economic conditions may influence some people’s intentions over this period.
Online activities are dominated by communication and finding information for work/studies
The online activities most mentioned by the UK population in general and specifically by EMGs are communicating (including email, instant messaging) and finding out information for work and/or studies. A wider range of online tasks is undertaken by under-45s, and ABC1s.
Indian and Pakistani internet users conduct a similar number of activities online to the UK average, while Black African internet users conduct fewer activities. One activity that all EMGs do less (19% - 29%) than the UK on average (41%) is conducting transactions online (such as banking, making purchases or using online auction sites).
EMGs are less likely to participate regularly in more traditional media activities such as reading a newspaper or magazine or watching a DVD
Most EMG adults say they watch television and talk on their mobile phone regularly. However, fewer people than in the UK population on average participate in traditional media activities such as reading a newspaper/magazine or watching a DVD. Black Caribbean and Black African adults are the least likely to consume these types of media.
The importance of mobiles and the internet reflect the younger population, as well as socio-demographic and cultural factors
Watching television is the media activity that many EMG adults say they would miss the most. However, mobile phones are also important, particularly among the under-45s, with between 24% and 43% saying they would miss their mobile the most. Black Africans are the group most attached to their mobiles.
The internet is also important to the under-45s. While adults under 45 in the UK population overall are likely to say they would miss their mobile or the internet the most, the figures are higher among Pakistani and Black African adults in the same age range, suggesting that other socio-demographic or cultural influences are playing a part.
The majority of EMG adults are using more than one media device while watching television or using the internet
A large majority of EMGs say they use another digital device while watching television or using the internet – these figures are significantly higher than in the UK overall. Talking on the telephone, whether fixed or mobile, is the most commonly mentioned activity that people do while watching television.
Two areas that we use to measure understanding in media literacy are interest in, and confidence in using, a variety of functions offered by media devices. We also examine the concerns that people have about media content or about the devices themselves.
The table below summarises the percentage of adults who expressed interest in any of the digital features listed in the research for each platform. The second half of the table summarises the proportion of adults who expressed concern regarding content delivered on that platform.
Key understand measure
Black Caribbean adults
Black African adults
UK adults total
digital TV functions
digital radio functions
Adults from EMGs are more likely to be interested in, and confident about using, interactive functions than the general UK population
Overall interest in the various functions that we assessed for digital television and radio is significantly higher among all EMGs than among the UK population as a whole.
Over three-quarters of adults from each of the EMGs said that they were interested in the digital television functions that we asked about (such as using the interactive button on the remote, setting up a menu of favourite channels, selecting different viewing angles and using a PIN to block access). Black Africans and Black Caribbeans were the most likely to show interest. Using the interactive button on the remote was the feature attracting most interest.
Adults from each of the EMGs are also more likely to be interested in radio functions. Most interest was shown in being able to see the details of music as it is being played.
Interest in internet functions differs by EMG. Black Caribbeans and Black Africans are more likely to say they are interested in installing security features, doing online banking (along with Pakistani adults) and joining online debates than others. Generally speaking, fewer Indian internet users are interested in the specific internet functions we asked about, compared with the other EMGs.
Almost all of the EMGs expressed interest in mobile phone functions, with text messaging, not surprisingly, attracting the most interest. Three in five Indian, Pakistani and Black Caribbean adults are interested in accessing their mobile operator’s web portal – significantly more than Black African adults.
Despite the higher proportion saying they have various media devices and are interested and confident about using their interactive functions, the proportion of EMG adults who say they are confident about finding information online is lower (69% - 83%) than the UK population as a whole (91%).
Awareness of how television programmes are funded is higher than awareness of how radio programming, or certain online content, is funded
We asked respondents what the main source of funding was for BBC television and radio programming and the BBC website, as well as for commercial television and radio programming, and search engines.
Awareness of how BBC television programming is funded is higher than awareness of how commercial television programming is funded. The main variations across the EMGs are among Indian and Pakistani adults. Awareness of funding among these two communities is higher for commercial radio stations than for BBC radio stations. In general, awareness in this area is lower among under-45s and C2DEs.
Similarly, funding awareness among Indian and Pakistani adults is higher for search engines than for the BBC website.
Compared to awareness across the UK population overall, awareness of BBC funding is significantly lower among Indian and Pakistani adults.
There is a degree of confusion about how content is regulated
We also asked people whether they thought television, radio, internet, mobile phones and electronic gaming were regulated or not.
Awareness of regulation, apart from television and radio, is mixed - and similar to the UK population as a whole, in that there is confusion and lack of knowledge/understanding in this area.
Although the majority of adults in EMGs are aware that television is regulated, awareness does vary by EMG. Awareness of television regulation is higher among Black Caribbeans than among Indian, Pakistani and Black African adults, and awareness of the watershed is lower among Indian and Black African adults.
Between 51% and 63% of EMGs say radio broadcasts are regulated. Awareness among Black Caribbean (63%) and Black African adults (57%) is comparable with the UK overall (58%) but awareness is significantly lower among Indian (51%) and Pakistani adults (47%).
Understanding of whether internet content is regulated is mixed; opinion is divided between EMGs saying that content is regulated, not regulated or ‘don’t know’. Indian adults are more likely to say that internet content is not regulated (41%), whereas Pakistani (39%), Black Caribbean (42%) and Black African (41%) adults are more likely to say that it is regulated.
In comparison with the EMG population, people in the overall UK population are more likely to say they don’t know whether the internet is regulated.
Similarly, opinion among EMGs is split on whether mobile phone content and gaming are regulated.
Awareness of whether mobile phone content is regulated also differs by EMG. Over two in five Black Caribbeans and Black Africans adults say they don’t know whether mobile phone content is regulated. In contrast, between 36% and 38% of Indian and Pakistani adults say that mobile phone content is regulated.
Across the different EMGs in this report, over two in five say they don’t know whether gaming is regulated or not.
Around half of the UK population as a whole don’t know whether mobile phone content and gaming is regulated or not.
Online content has a role to play in informing, educating and entertaining
Views are mixed about the main role of media content.
Adults from EMGs are more likely to say that the role of the internet is to educate or inform than it is to entertain. Although there is little demographic variation among those who say the main role of the internet is to educate, under-45s and C2DEs are more likely to say they think the main role is entertainment.
At the UK overall level, 47% agree that the main role of online content should be to entertain and 73% agree that it should be to inform and educate. Across each of the EMGs, between 48% and 59% agree it should be for entertainment, and Black Africans are the most likely to agree (59%).
Indian adults are less likely to agree that the main role is to inform and educate (61%) than are Pakistani and Black African adults; they share a similar opinion to the UK total.
In general, a higher proportion of people from EMGs say they are concerned about media than the UK population in general
Over three in five adults from EMGs are concerned about the internet - similar to the UK population in general. One of the main differences in the types of concern is the higher level of concern among EMGs about PC viruses and security.
Concerns about mobile phones and gaming are higher among EMGs than in the UK population in general. Mobile phone concerns are related mainly to affordability.
Pakistanis and Black Caribbeans are most likely to express concerns about what is on television, followed by concerns about what is on the internet. For Indian adults, equal proportions are concerned about the television and the internet. Black African adults are most likely to say they are concerned about the internet, followed by television. Across all EMGs, fewer adults mention concerns about gaming and radio, than the other platforms.
Concerns about television content are mainly about offensive content, while concerns expressed about the radio include poor quality programming and offensive content.
Among Indian adults, concerns about what is on the television and radio are higher among C2DEs and females. Among Pakistani adults, concerns about television, the internet and gaming are higher among ABC1s. Among Black African adults, concerns about what is on the television are greater among over-44s and concern about the internet is higher among under-45s and ABC1s.
Pakistani adults are more likely to mention poor quality programming, and specifically the view that there are too many adverts.
We measured people’s participation in creative activities by asking internet users how confident they felt about using creative functions online, and whether they had any experience or interest in creating online content. The creative activities we assessed were: experience of downloading different types of programming and audio content and interest in activities such as uploading photos, creating a social networking profile, contributing to blogs and creating videos that are later uploaded.
We also asked how confident people felt about carrying out these creative activities on the internet.
Key create measures
Black Caribbean adults
Black African adults
UK adults total
Confidence creating content
It is interesting that despite take-up of the internet among EMGs and their use of it for creative activities such as consuming and creating content, they are less likely to say they are confident in creating content than the average for the UK population.
EMGs are more likely to use certain creative functions than the UK population overall
Adults from EMGs are interested in engaging with creative content; they are more likely to say they have downloaded music, video clips and longer content such as films and television programmes, than the UK population as a whole. They have experienced a range of creative activities including uploading photos and setting up social networking profiles.
Again, the higher proportion carrying out creative activities is not just due to the younger age profile of the four EMGs covered in this report. Further analysis of the data shows that EMG under-45s are more likely to use creative functions than under-45s in the UK population in general. This may be influenced by cultural factors, and among Indian adults, by socio-economic factors.
It is particularly noteworthy that all EMG respondents show greater levels of interest in learning about digital technology (38% - 54%) than the UK average (31%). Indian and Pakistani adults are more likely than other groups to be interested in learning about creating a website (13-15% compared to 8% UK average), while Indian (8%), Pakistani (12%) and Black Caribbean adults (8%) are more interested than Black Africans (6%) or the UK average (4%) in learning about setting controls for internet access. Overall, although varying in preference by group, the most popular options for learning about digital technology are ‘asking friends or family’, ‘reading the manual’ or ‘trial and error’.
However, Indian adults are more likely than the UK average to prefer to learn via a supplier or store (26% compared to 12%) and Indian and Pakistani adults are more likely than the UK average to choose to go to a class (13%-16% compared to 6%).
1.- See Section 2 for further details of the methodologies used.
2.- The Adult Media Literacy Audit contained a sub sample representative of the total size of the EMG population (7.9% of the respondents).
3.- See www.statistics.gov.uk
4.- The 2001 Census asked the following questions related to Country of Birth and ethnicity.
Country of birth. "What is your country of birth?" with tick box options of: England ; Wales ; Scotland ; Northern Ireland ; Republic of Ireland and Elsewhere, please write in the present name of the country.
Ethnic Group. "What is your ethnic group? Chose ONE section from A to E, then tick the appropriate box to indicate your cultural background.
A White. Tick box options of: British; Irish or Any other White background (please write in).
B Mixed. Tick box options of: White and Black Caribbean; White and Black African; White and Asian or any other Mixed background (please write in).
C Asian or Asian British. Tick box options of: Indian; Pakistani; Bangladeshi; Any other Asian background (please write in).
D Black or Black British. Tick box options of: Caribbean ; African; Any other Black background (please write in).
E Chinese or other ethnic group. Tick box options of: Chinese; Any other (please write in).
5.- See Ofcom research report New News, Future News published 26 June 2007 New News, Future News
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