Insights Ofcom publishes annual report on BBC’s performance finding that it must do more to serve audiences on lower incomes


Ofcom’s report finds that people in lower socio-economic groups, who account for almost a quarter of the UK population, are less engaged and less satisfied with the BBC. To understand why, Ofcom says that it will launch an in-depth review into how the BBC connects with audiences on lower incomes.

Ofcom also says that it wants the BBC to set out, clearly and publicly, its overall strategy for improving perceptions among disenfranchised audiences, including how it is drawing and acting on viewer and listener research.

Ofcom recognises that the BBC faces a challenging market and economic climate and is seeking to address these challenges in a strategy to become a “Digital First” organisation. The BBC’s plan is to create a “modern, digital-led and streamlined organisation that drives the most value from the licence fee and delivers more for audiences”.

As it undergoes this transition, Ofcom expects the BBC to continue to deliver for all audiences and will hold it to account in areas where it needs to do more. These include: (i) protecting local audiences as it seeks to make changes to its news and current affairs; (ii) improving its complaints handling; and (iii) being more transparent about changes it intends to make to its licence-fee funded public services.

Ofcom also says that, having carefully considered a request from the BBC, it has given the go-ahead for it to increase its catalogue of older content on iPlayer, such as past series of returning titles. Ofcom was required by the BBC Charter and Agreement to assess the BBC’s proposed change to BBC iPlayer to determine whether the proposed change was “material”. Ofcom consulted on its provisional view that the proposed change was not material, meaning that it would not be required to carry out a BBC competition assessment (BCA) or a shorter assessment considering elements of the BCA. In reaching its conclusion, Ofcom considered feedback from stakeholders. To read Ofcom’s news release in full and for a link to its annual report on the BBC’s performance, click here. For a link to Ofcom’s statement regarding archive content on BBC iPlayer, click here.