The Provision of Current Affairs
As part of its duty to assess the effectiveness of public service delivery on television, Ofcom is conducting a series of bi-annual practitioner symposia. One of the key purposes of these events is to engage practitioners and other informed commentators in in-depth investigations into how well the public service purposes are being achieved by the broadcasters. The outputs of these symposia will also help to inform the future regulation of key genres of public service programming.
The first of these symposia entitled ‘The Future of Current Affairs’ took place on 28th March 2006 and examined one of Ofcom's key purposes of public service broadcasting: “to inform ourselves and others and to increase our understanding of the world through news, information and analysis of current events and ideas”.
The goal of this symposium was to reflect on the existing provision of current affairs programming by the public service broadcasters, to examine how current affairs provision may change moving forward towards digital switchover and to consider options for the delivery and regulation of current affairs programming in the future. The scope of the symposium was limited to public service television and did not include current affairs on radio.
The focus of this report is to provide a summary of the symposium itself and synopses of three pieces of original research conducted by Ofcom to inform debate at the event. These were:
- An audit of the current affairs output on the network public service broadcasters
- An audit of the current affairs output in the Nations and Regions; and
- Qualitative research into viewers' attitudes towards current affairs programming