LONDON: UK communications regulator Ofcom on Thursday published its 330-page annual Communications Market Report.

The tome's purpose, say cynics, is less to inform than to demonstrate to government, taxpayers and businesses that the regulator is worth the £129.4 million ($257.71m; €190.40m) it compulsorily extracts from the public and media companies.

Ofcom's 2007 document focuses on the use by consumers of new digital communications services to take control of how, when and where they access and use such services.

The tome also notes that increased convergence of services and technologies is changing the shape of the communications sector and in particular industry revenues.

The key heading are ...

  • The Networked Nation
    The process of convergence - bringing technologies, platforms and devices closer together - is connecting the nation as never before. Consumers can now get live TV over their mobile, radio over their TV and make voice calls on the internet.

  • Television
    The decline in advertising revenues coincides with greater availability and use of television-style content online and the growth of digital video recorders that allow users to skip adverts, putting even greater pressure on advertising revenues. The report found that up to 78% of DVR owners regularly used them to skip through adverts.

  • Internet
    Online advertising spending continues to surge, up 47% during 2006 and just breaking the £2bn mark. Internet advertising spend is now equivalent to almost half (44%) that spent on all TV advertising; to 83% of advertising spend on ITV1, Channel 4 and Five; and to one quarter (24.2%) of all press advertising.

  • Telecoms and broadband
    As at April 2007, 53% of UK homes had a broadband connection. Headline speeds - the maximum advertised speed of a broadband service - have doubled over the last twelve months.

  • Radio
    While the total number of UK radio stations increased via the expansion of digital audio broadcasting, the report shows that the total number of radio listening hours declined to an average of 19.8 hours per week per listener in 2006. This fell further to 19.4 hours in Q1 2007. This decline was felt most in the commercial local radio sector. Between April 2005 and April 2006, average listening to local commercial radio fell by 4.1%.
Says Peter Phillips, who struggles under the pithy job title of Ofcom Partner of Strategy and Market Developments: "This comprehensive survey shows how our communications sector continues to develop at a fast pace, with consumers of all ages using a range of devices to find the services they want at lower prices."

For those with the necessary stamina, the entire 330-page tome can be downloaded by clicking here.

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