UK communications regulator Ofcom delivered its annual report on the BBC’s performance, offering a positive outlook, with room to build on transparency, creative risk taking and attracting younger audiences.
Despite declining live TV viewership over the last six successive years, the British pubcaster has performed well across TV, radio and online, attracting nine out of 10 adults to their content each week, with audiences spending an estimated two hours and 44 minutes with the BBC each day.
Audiences report overall satisfaction with the BBC, with 74% satisfaction with radio, 75% with websites and apps, and 68% with TV, while a majority also agreed that the BBC is delivering its “public purpose” well.
Elsewhere, more than seven in 10 people rate the BBC highly for high-quality, trustworthy and accurate news that helps them understand the world. More than eight in 10 rate current affairs TV programs highly for providing high-quality commentary and investigative journalism.
Ofcom also identified four key areas where the BBC could improve.
Transparency came up as a weakness, as when the BBC planned changes to the streaming service iPlayer while providing scant information to the public. In contrast, the pubcaster did invite meaningful feedback last year on plans for a new BBC Scotland channel, more in line with its privileged position as a publicly-funded organization, the report said. Ofcom also noted the need for greater transparency in the process of keeping public-service and commercial activities separate.
The report also called for more original UK programs to compete with the strong international programming available in the UK. This includes the need to take more creative risks to ensure local content that stands out and satisfies the 43% of audiences who do not feel like the BBC is taking creative risks and innovating.
With young people spending less than half as much time with the BBC as overall audiences, the report also urges a push to reach this relatively untapped market. While this means creating content more appealing to viewers, it also means finding new ways to reach young people where and how they consume content.
Lastly, more diverse representation of UK society came up as an area needing work, with audiences reporting a greater need for the representation of older women, people with disabilities, and regions outside major cities, in particular.
“Viewers and listeners have told us the BBC is generally doing a good job. But it can go further in some areas,” said Ofcom CEO Sharon White, in a statement. “We expect the BBC to do more in attracting younger people, being bolder in the programs it makes, and making original UK programs that accurately reflect the lives of people around the UK.”