The way we consume audio-visual content is changing, and changing in many different ways simultaneously. In the future increasing numbers of viewers will be entering a ‘converged world’ in which traditional broadcast television programming will be available alongside content delivered through the internet on the same screen.
Smartphones and other web-connected portable devices have already reached a critical mass in the UK and are becoming mainstream. Internet-connected or ‘smart’ televisions are already available but have yet to reach critical mass. New converged services such as Virgin’s TiVo give access to broadcast content, catch-up services, video on demand and open internet content on our televisions. New brands and providers will continue to enter the marketplace, multiplying the range and type of content services available to UK audiences.
At the moment, different types of audio-visual services are regulated differently. The strictest regulations apply to licensed TV broadcasters and their channels available on terrestrial, satellite and cable television. A more limited set of rules apply to video on demand (VoD) services. In recent years whether, and how, to regulate audio-visual content delivered via other means has become an increasing challenge and source of debate. Government, regulators, industry and other stakeholders must now consider an increasing range of content providers, service types and distribution platforms when considering regulation for protection going forward. Ofcom has a duty to advise government on the need for protection of consumers and citizens in their consumption of audio-visual services.
In this context, Ofcom commissioned Ipsos MORI to conduct new audience research to explore attitudes and expectations in a world where content can be accessed in such a broad range of ways.
This report sets out the background to and key findings of the research. A separate annex incorporates the methodology and materials used in the deliberative audience workshops.
This report is intended to be a public source of information, and a foundation for discussion and debate, on the expectations, importance, and ways and means of protecting vulnerable individuals and providing assurance for audiences in their viewing choices.