Broadcasting Regulators Report Drop in News and Current Affairs Spending

Unable to provide comparative figures between 2006 and 2007, the broadcasting regulators, Ofcom, have announced that spending on news and current affairs by Scottish broadcasters has dropped by 41 per cent during the five years between 2002 and 2007.

Notwithstanding the possibility that spending could have actually gone up between 2006 and 2007 (because the drop between 2002 and 2006 might be bigger than 41 per cent), Ofcom estimates the 2002-2007 fall to be equivalent to two million pounds.

The figures, released this morning, appear in a wide-ranging report that looks also at broadband take-up between rural and urban areas and radio. This is Ofcom’s third ‘Communications Market Report: Nations and Regions’ report.

In Scotland, 59 per cent of rural households have broadband compared to 52 per cent of urban households.

In a fulsome press statement issued this morning, the 41 per cent drop in news and current affairs is not categorised by media outlet, such as BBC Scotland, Northsound, stv or talk107.

But Ofcom says the 41 per cent drop compares with an UK-wide figure of 19 per cent. Specifically regarding news, Scotland has experienced a six per cent drop over the same, 2002-2007 period – estimated at being worth one million pounds but this time roughly in line with the UK-wide reduction of five per cent.

It was a similar report last year, by Ofcom, that led to the setting up – by First Minister, Alex Salmond – of a commission looking into the future of Scottish broadcasting, and which is expected to be reporting its recommendations at the end of summer. Since last year, the BBC director-general, Mark Thompson, has pledged increased production activity at BBC Scotland.

However, Ofcom have been able to make a 2006 versus 2007 comparison on ‘originated output’ by BBC Scotland and stv: it was