UK TV Content Commissioning Remains Under Surveillance

11 January 2006

With over 27,000 hours of programme content supplied by independent UK television producers in 2004, British viewers enjoy one of the highest levels of domestically-originated content in the world, according to a report issued Tuesday by media and telecommunications regulator Ofcom.

The Communications Act 2003 requires the watchdog to ensure a diversity of programme supply and broad representation of the communities and cultures of the UK, as well as a wide range of television content providers and services.

In 2004, UK broadcasters (public service and digital multichannel) spent £2.6 billion ($4.59bn; €3.8bn) on the commissioning of originated-output programmes (excluding news) which were created specifically for, and screened by, the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five and Welsh-language channel S4C.

Of these programmes, 56% (equivalent to £1.5bn) of originated output was produced inhouse by the broadcasters, and 44% (£1.1bn) by external producers.

The last major review of the sector - and of the commissioning of programmes - was conducted in 2002 and recommended the establishment of new Codes of Practice. Ofcom, however, is required to assess the effectiveness of those codes.

On the basis of its analysis to date, the body concludes that the conditions laid down for a withdrawal of regulation from the TV production sector will not be met in the medium-term. Ofcom will therefore focus on three core areas:

  • The negotiating strength of the broadcasters;

  • The commissioning of inhouse production; and

  • The geographic spread of production.
Ofcom is currently consulting all sides of the industry on these issues and their likely resolution. In the absence of agreement, however, Ofcom will later this year propose variations to its guidance on the Codes of Practice.

The consultation closes on 21 March. For full details click here.

Data sourced from Ofcom (UK); additional content by WARC staff