The Media in Figures: TV programming spend, etc in Scotland

SOME £263 million was spent by the BBC and ITV/ STV/ UTV on producing first-run originated programmes specifically for viewers in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the English regions last year, down by £3 million (or 1.2 per cent) in nominal terms from 2012 and down by 13 per cent since 2008 – according to broadcasting regulators, Ofcom.

Says the watchdog, in its annual Communications Market Report, the year-on-year spend by public service broadcasts on what is described as ‘first-run originated programming’ for viewers in Scotland has remained steady, around £52 million over the last four years, recovering slightly following a sharp drop in 2009.

Other figures (not including those relating to the Gaelic language channel, BBC ALBA) revealed by Ofcom include:

* BBC and STV spend on current affairs programming for viewers in Scotland increased by six per cent last year, a 17 per cent rise on five years earlier. Says Ofcom: “Although spend on news remained stable with no year-on-year change, the figure remains six per cent lower than in 2008. There was also no change year-on-year in non-news/non-current affairs programme spend, which remains six per cent higher than five years ago.

“Spend on programming commissioned for Scotland as a whole increased by one per cent, driven by the previously-mentioned increase in current affairs spend.”

* Expenditure on non-network content broadcast by the BBC and ITV for people in Scotland increased by one per cent to £53.3 million last year.

Continues Ofcom: “Spend on non-news/non-current affairs accounted for almost two-thirds of total spend (64 per cent); news accounted for a further 25 per cent, with current affairs making up the remaining 11 per cent.”

* Total first-run originated hours for Scotland has increased more than any other UK nation since 2008.

Says Ofcom: “The BBC and ITV1/ STV/ UTV produced a total of 11,232 hours of first-run originated content for the English regions, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2013, up by two per cent (or 230 hours) on 2012, and down by six per cent (765 hours) since 2008.

“The number of first-run originated hours produced specifically for viewers in Scotland has increased by 46 per cent since 2008 to 2,456 hours in 2013. This is the highest relative increase across the four nations over this period, and is mainly attributable to the increased output of The Nightshift on STV in 2010/2011. Over one year, the number of first-run originated hours increased by one per cent compared to the UK-wide average increase of two per cent.

“The distribution of programmes across genres and broadcasters in Scotland remained broadly the same in 2013 as in 2012. The largest change was an additional 33 hours of news programming on STV. In contrast, BBC news programmes fell by 11 hours across the year, although this was offset slightly by an increase of three hours of current affairs.”

* Total cost per hour on total nations’ output for Scotland has decreased by 27 per cent since 2008 – the highest across the nations.

Continues Ofcom: When analysing the cost of making programmes for the nations, cost-per-hour calculations show that, when measured in nominal terms, England and Scotland produced programmes more cost-effectively in 2013 than in 2008. The decrease in the Scottish figure can again be in part attributed to the large volume of hours and relatively low production cost of The Nightshift, which affected the overall average.

“Over the five-year period, Scotland’s cost per hour decreased by 27 per cent compared to the UK average decrease of five per cent.”

Source: The Communications Market: Scotland, publ Ofcom, August 7 2014.