HomeInsightsOfcom publishes new study into audience expectations in the digital world

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The study shows that TV and radio programmes that are unsuitable for children or which contain hateful or discriminatory content should be the priorities for Ofcom’s work in upholding standards.

The research reveals broad support for broadcasting rules, which ensure audiences are protected while freedom of expression is upheld. Further, there is also widespread agreement among audiences that society’s views around offence have shifted in recent years.

In particular, viewers and listeners told Ofcom that:

  • they expect regulation to focus on cases of content inciting crime and causing harm, even if it airs on smaller, non-mainstream channels or stations aimed at particular communities; and
  • discriminatory content against specific groups is more concerning than other offensive content, such as nudity and swearing, and should be prioritised.

Ofcom says that the pattern of offence-related audience complaints made to Ofcom over the last five years also reflects these shifting priorities. Concerns around swearing, for example, have trended downwards, falling by 45% between 2015 and 2019. In comparison, complaints about racial and gender discrimination have increased by 224% and 148% respectively, during the same period. To read Ofcom’s news release in full and for a link to the study, click here.