Fall in TV Programme-making Spend in Nations and Regions, finds Broadcast Regulator

The amount of money spent making TV programmes for broadcast in nations and regions of the UK plunged by more than a quarter in the last five years, a report released today has revealed.

According to media regulator Ofcom’s annual review of public service broadcasting, spend by the BBC or ITV/STV/UTV for programming exclusively in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or the English regions, dropped 26 per cent, from £359 million in 2006 to £266 million last year.

However, total investment in nations and regions output did see a slight increase of £2 million year-on-year between 2009 and 2010.

Spend on output for viewers in Scotland alone stood at £52 million, marking a fall of a fifth over the past five years, the findings showed.

Investment by Channel 3 broadcasters across the UK has plummeted 43 per cent from £148 million to £85 million since 2006, albeit against a backdrop of a year-on-year rise of one per cent between 2009 and 2010 with Scottish broadcasters, STV, and their decision to transmit more non-network content, said to be largely responsible.

The BBC, by contrast, recorded a decrease of £30 million – or 14 per cent between 2006 and 2010 – to £181 million on output for the devolved nations and English regions combined, albeit was also up 0.6 per cent year-on-year. The final figure excludes BBC ALBA.

Meanwhile, the total hours of nations and regions output has fallen by 779 hours since 2006, from 11,825 hours to 11,046.

However, it proved to be a brighter picture north of the Border where viewers enjoyed a 14 per cent rise to 1,881 as a result, says Ofcom, of the greater volume of original content coming out of STV.

Elsewhere, viewers in Scotland were found to spend more time watching UK-wide news than any other devolved nation, with the average person devoting 96 hours per year to such programming.

By contrast, viewing of national news remained much lower at 34 hours, though still six hours more than the UK average.

Following research into audience opinion that accompanies Ofcom’s report, the watchdog says: “Against the trend of long-term declines in spend, no significant increases were recorded year-on-year or versus 2007 in audience opinion of the delivery of ‘enough new programming made in the UK’ with 45 per cent of respondents scoring the PSB channels well on this.”