Update on Small Screen: Big Debate – a five-year review of public service broadcasting (2014-2018)

Ofcom has published a review of how public service broadcasting (PSB) has delivered for UK audiences over a five-year period (2014 – 2018).

The Communications Act 2003 sets out the purposes and objectives of PSB and the television services responsible for their delivery. It also requires Ofcom to periodically review the PSB channels’ performance.

Ofcom’s review assesses the BBC television services, ITV and STV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and S4C, as well as the contribution that other broadcasters, audio and on-demand services have made to the PSB objectives.

Separately, Ofcom has also published a five-year review of Channel 4’s performance in meeting its media content duties.

Informing the debate on the future of PSB

The publication and supporting data are designed to help inform our wider programme of work on the future of PSB – Small Screen: Big Debate.

Small Screen: Big Debate takes a different approach from our previous PSB reviews. Its purpose is to provoke a broad and dynamic national conversation involving viewers, the broadcasting industry, Parliament, and regulators about how the benefits of PSB might best be assured for the future.

Our document summarises how audiences’ habits and the context for PSB has changed. New research, industry events and an upcoming conference will consider: what PSB should deliver; how it should be delivered and funded; and what regulatory and policy tools may be needed in the future. We are also examining how PSB and the wider broadcasting industry can support a thriving and increasingly diverse UK creative economy.

New website to support the debate

Ofcom has also launched a dedicated website – www.smallscreenbigdebate.co.uk. This provides easy access to all Ofcom and third-party research, and other materials relevant to the national conversation about the future of PSB.

The site will provide an opportunity for people to join the conversation and share their personal views to help inform our consultation in the summer. It will also include video of insights shared during events we are holding across the UK.

Engaging young people on the future of TV

Ofcom has today launched a competition, in partnership with the Financial Times, to encourage young people to contribute to Small Screen: Big Debate by sharing their creative ideas on the future of TV.

For a chance to win a £100 cash prize and see their work published in the FT, Ofcom is calling on students aged 16-18 to submit a blog-post or video on how traditional broadcasters and streaming services can appeal to the audiences of tomorrow.

The deadline for entries is 9 April 2020 and more information, including the competition’s terms and conditions, is available on the website.