Skip to main content

Television: Standards

Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UIN 41839, tabled on 3 September 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to the Department's news story, It’s time to level up Britain’s screens, published on 23 June 2021, what evidence his Department used to inform the assessment that choice is no longer an issue for UK viewers.

Answered on

13 September 2021

This answer is a correction from the original answer.

There is a wealth of evidence set out in our consultation document that supports the case we have made about the evolving media landscape and the challenges this presents for linear TV broadcasters. Linear TV viewing is down almost 60% amongst 16-25 year olds since 2010, whilst 16-34 year olds now spend almost twice as much time on YouTube and subscription VoD services than they do with broadcast content. There are now 315 channels, compared to 5 in 1982 when Channel 4 was established. Linear TV advertising revenues - which constituted 74% of Channel 4’s revenue in 2020 - have declined across the sector at a compound annual rate of 2.5% since 2015.

Moreover, Ofcom, in their latest recommendations to Government on the future of public service media, outlined what it called the ‘rapid change in the industry – driven by global commercial trends and a transformation in viewing habits - [which] is making it harder for public service broadcasters to compete for audiences and maintain their current offer”.

It is against this backdrop that the Government is taking action through a strategic review of the UK’s public service broadcasting system, with plans to bring forward a White Paper in the Autumn, to ensure that our traditional public service broadcasters are equipped to retain their place at the centre of the UK’s media ecosystem.

Original answer

There is a wealth of evidence set out in our consultation document that supports the case we have made about the evolving media landscape and the challenges this presents for linear TV broadcasters. Linear TV viewing is down almost 60% amongst 16-25 year olds since 2010, whilst 16-34 year olds now spend almost twice as much time on YouTube and subscription VoD services than they do with broadcast content. There are now 315 channels, compared to 5 in 1982 when Channel 4 was established. Linear TV advertising revenues - which constituted over 90% of Channel 4’s revenue in 2020 - have declined across the sector at a compound annual rate of 2.5% since 2015.

Moreover, Ofcom, in their latest recommendations to Government on the future of public service media, outlined what it called the ‘rapid change in the industry – driven by global commercial trends and a transformation in viewing habits - [which] is making it harder for public service broadcasters to compete for audiences and maintain their current offer”.

It is against this backdrop that the Government is taking action through a strategic review of the UK’s public service broadcasting system, with plans to bring forward a White Paper in the Autumn, to ensure that our traditional public service broadcasters are equipped to retain their place at the centre of the UK’s media ecosystem.