UK channels acquire more, spend less on original programming

Spending on UK-originated programming by the UK broadcasters with a public service remit has fallen 15% since 2004, according to research released today by communications regulator Ofcom. The BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five all have PSB obligations and Ofcom has found that the amount spent on acquired programming has increased the outlay on first-run original programming is sharply down.

The amount spent on original programming has fallen £339 million since 2004, taking the 2008 total to £2.3 billion. Overall program spend was down at all of the PSB channels across the period except Five, where it increased by 1%. The BBC spent 13% less across its two main channels while the combined decrease at the commercial channels was 8%.

However, the number of hours of first-run originated programming was down less sharply than the amount spent. The number of hours decreased 3%, taking the 2008 total to 33,177 across the PSB channels.

Ofcom added that spend on news and current affairs fell 14% across the measurement period and the 2008 total was £250 million. The volume of factual programming increased as the amunt spent on factual fell less steeply than for other genres. It was down 4%, taking the total to £17 million.