Insights Ofcom publishes new research on attitudes to public service broadcasting (PSB)


Ofcom has published new research to explore the relationship that people have with PSB. The research is designed to help inform Ofcom’s work on the future of PSB: “Small Screen: Big Debate”. Ofcom says that its purpose is to stimulate a national conversation involving viewers, the broadcasting industry, Parliament and regulators about how the benefits of PSB might be assured for the future.

Ofcom commissioned the research to ask viewers and listeners from across the UK to tell the regulator about their use of PSB content, its role and relevance in their lives, and how that might change in the future.

In summary, audiences told Ofcom that:

  • there continues to be a role for PSBs, despite their day-to-day influence and relevance declining among younger audiences (aged 16-24);
  • younger audiences are attracted to streaming services like Netflix because they easily serve up relevant, personalised content with the talkability factor, supported by strong social media marketing;
  • but even younger audiences are typically keen to retain PSB, valuing the sense of “societal glue” they bring, along with high-quality British content and news; and
  • all except the most engaged audiences feel that PSBs need to work harder to provide relevant programming and make it as easy as possible to access across the generations.

Videos highlighting some of the observations from Ofcom’s interviews are available. Ofcom has also published a report and the data tables focusing on the perceived personal and societal benefits of PSB. This is part of Ofcom’s ongoing research. Fieldwork took place before the Covid-19 UK lockdown. To access the research, click here.