North benefits from Out of London broadcasting spend

Stephen Chapman's picture
by Stephen Chapman

The main UK broadcasters are spending more and producing more programmes in the North of England according to Ofcom’s Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) Annual Report.

It examines spend and output as well viewing habits and audience opinion for the UK’s main PSB channels - BBC One, Two, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, the BBC digital channels and S4C.

According to the latest figures, while London still accounts for more than 50% of production spend and volume, this figure is steadily decreasing, with the main beneficiary being the North.

Since 2009, production spend by the PSB channels in the region has risen from 15.9% to 20% and this is echoed in productions by volume, with the North now accounting for 18.2%.


out of london

Nationwide, production spend has decreased by 2% in real terms to £2.9bn, but this is more stark when viewed over the last 5 years with a 17% real terms decrease. In the nations and regions, the figures are more pronounced. The BBC’s spend was down by 4% (£183m) and ITV to 3% (£83m), with the 5 year figures down 30% (BBC down 19% and ITV by 46%).

Since 2007, the hours of programmes produced specifically for the nations and regions has dropped by 857 hours to 11,002 (or 7%).

The survey also studied viewing habits for regional news and found that on average people watched 26 hours of Nations/Regions news in 2012. The figure in the devolved nations was highest in Wales (88 hours) and in the regions it was Border (41 hours) which came out on top - this compares to the lowest region, London (18 hours).

78% of viewers, which is the same as 2011, said that regional news bulletins were important. 

When looking at the combined figures for BBC and ITV, Nations/Regions news viewing has changed little over the last 5 years. However, the average person is watching one additional hour of regional news on BBC One, but 2 fewer hours on ITV.

A comparative analysis of the Nations/Regions evening news for ITV and BBC over the last 5 years shows that in Yorkshire, ITV fell 3 points against the BBC, but Border was up 14 points and the North East 4 points.

The full study can be read here.