Insights Ofcom publishes conclusions of its Small Screen: Big Debate on future of public service media and calls for stronger system fit for the digital age


Ofcom is recommending a radical overhaul of laws to ensure that public service media survives and thrives in the digital age.

Ofcom’s recommendations to Government mark the conclusion of Small Screen: Big Debate, an in-depth review on the future of public service media (PSM). The report calls for the renewal of the PSM system to ensure it can flourish for the next decade and beyond.

Ofcom says that its review makes clear that public service programming remains highly valued by UK audiences, and the pandemic has only served to reinforce its role in society. However, with global competition intensifying, viewers are no longer bound by television schedules and can pick and choose content from a range of online providers and platforms. Given these changes, Ofcom says that the UK’s broadcasting industry is facing its greatest challenge.

Ofcom says that to secure the future of PSM, broadcasters must accelerate their digital plans if they are to maintain a strong link with audiences, and the regulatory system also needs to be urgently updated.

Ofcom is therefore recommending that the Government brings forward primary legislation to:

  • modernise the PSM objectives;
  • update availability and prominence rules to include digital platforms;
  • update production rules for PSM content; and
  • update the rules for PSM providers.

Ofcom also says that further radical approaches are needed to secure the vital benefits of PSM, including Government consideration of how to encourage new providers to help deliver public service programming in future. To read Ofcom’s press release in full and for a link to the conclusions of the review, click here.