Report Reveals Drop in TV Programme-making Spend in Nations and Regions

The amount of money spent making TV programmes for broadcast in the so-called UK Nations and Regions, of which Scotland is part, has fallen by 32 per cent over the four years between 2005 and last year – according to a report out today from broadcasting regulators, Ofcom.

Says Ofcom's annual review of public service broadcasting, there was also a 14 per cent drop in the amount spent on UK-wide programmes – over the same, 2005-2009 period – by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five.

Says Ofcom, spending by the Public Service Broadcasters on UK-wide, ie network, programmes – both first-run originated programmes and repeats – fell from £3.25bn in 2005 to £2.79bn in 2009. 

In terms of spend by the BBC or ITV/STV/UTV for programming exclusively in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or the English regions, it was £375m in 2005 and £256m last year. Broken further down, the figures – which exclude Gaelic and Welsh-language programming, but some Irish language – comprised £213m from the BBC and £162m from ITV/STV/UTV in 2005 and £175m from the BBC and £81m from ITV/STV/UTV last year.

Ofcom also provides a breakdown, in terms of hours, and, for Scotland-only audiences, it's a combination of news, current affairs and 'other' programming on BBC Scotland and STV. Here, there is not much difference between 2005 and last year: a slight fall. Barely 20 hours.

In 2005, the BBC’s programming in Scotland alone comprised 335 hours of news, 184 hours of current affairs and 311 hours of other types of programmes (a total of 810 hours). During the same year, STV’s figures were 614 hours of news, 76 hours of current affairs and 145 hours of other programmes (835 hours).

Four years later, the figures see BBC news fall to 311 hours, its current affairs fall to 176 but its other programming up to 317 hours (a total of 804 hours). Meanwhile, STV’s figures read: 470 news, 28 current affairs and 342 other (a total of 840 hours).

Last year, STV replaced its daily, half-hour five thirty show with the longer, The Hour. Ofcom considers STV’s two early evening simultanteous news broadcasts – Scotland Today and North Tonight – as an hour’s worth of news (actually a little more, when local, north-south and east-west opt-outs are added). BBC Scotland’s Reporting Scotland lasts 30 minutes.

The report considers the spend by the BBC’s digital channels, but not ITV’s.

So, the specific declines – between 2005 and 2009 – across the PSB channels, in terms of spend on network programmes, reads as follows:

BBC1 £891m to £799m = ten per cent

BBC2 £410m to £357m = 13 per cent

BBC digital channels £260m to £206m = 21 per cent

ITV1 £933m to £810m = 13 per cent

Channel 4 £547m to £467m = 15 per cent

Five £212m to £149m = 30 per cent.

Meanwhiile, the drops from 2008 to 2009 are as follows:

BBC1 £864m to £799m = eight per cent

BBC2 £359m to £357m = one per cent

BBC digital channels £215m to £206m = four per cent

ITV1 £851m to £810m = five per cent

Channel 4 £505m to £467m = eight per cent

Five £204m to £149m = 27 per cent.

By contract, programme spending across the PSB channels between 1998 and 2004 had increased from £2.71bn to £3.36bn.

The declines between 2005 and 2009 mirror audiences moving away slightly from PSB channels, as more and more households acquire access to hundreds of channels, via digital TV.

Says Ofcom: “People are now watching more channels and TV than ever, but the result is that viewing of the five main PSB channels has fallen from 58 per cent in 2005 to 55 per cent in 2009 in multi-channel homes. Yet, there is still a strong appreciation of the channels and their programmes, with nearly two-thirds of people, 63 per cent in 2009, saying the PSB channels deliver well-made, high quality programmes. This is up from 58 per cent in 2006.”