In a statement, it says that its recommendations to the government mark the conclusion to Small Screen: Big Debate, an in-depth review on the future of public service media (PSM). The report calls for the renewal of the PSM system so it can flourish for the next decade and beyond.
It adds that the public service broadcasters are those providing Channel 3 services, Channel 4, Channel 5, S4C and the BBC. While all BBC public service television channels are PSB channels, only the main channels of each of the other public service broadcasters have this status.
During its review, Ofcom spoke to audiences of all ages and backgrounds across the UK, and met with broadcasters, streaming services, academics and analysts in the UK and abroad. It received over 100 responses, which focused on two main issues – the importance of PSM for UK viewers, and the urgent need to update the system to ensure its future sustainability.
Its review makes clear that public service programming remains highly valued by UK audiences, and the Covid-19 pandemic has only reinforced this. However, with global competition intensifying, viewers are no longer bound by TV schedules and are able to pick and choose content from a range of online providers and platforms. Given these changes, the UK’s broadcasting industry is facing its greatest challenge.
Ofcom recommends the government brings forward legislation to achieve a number of aims:
Modernise the PSM objectives.
Update availability and prominence rules to include digital platforms.
Update production rules for PSM content.
Update the rules for PSM providers.
Changes to the existing framework alone are not likely to be enough to preserve the benefits of public service media and further approaches are required.
PSM providers must forge more ambitious strategic partnerships.
Other companies should be encouraged to produce PSM programming.
Economic incentives to broaden PSM provision.
Dame Melanie Dawes, chief Executive, ofcom, said: “Our creative sector is the envy of the world, but public service media is facing a triple threat – from large global players, viewers turning towards online services, and increasing funding pressures. If we’re to preserve public service media and its outstanding content for future generations, change needs to happen – and fast.
“That’s why we’re recommending the biggest shake-up to public service broadcasting in twenty years. Our plan of action sets out how the industry, Government and Ofcom can together build a stronger system of public service media that can thrive in the digital age”.