Part one is here. A reminder; these are my personal views.
The second document I’ve read from OFCOM’s review of Public Service Broadcasting is Annex 7: ” A synopsis of Oliver & Ohlbaun’s economic modelling of future scenarios for public service content”.
Traditional broadcasters need to reinvent themselves in order to adapt to the new media world which is being shaken up primarily by the internet. This synopsis gives some useful projections of what might happen as they do.
It is as one of my colleagues would say “chewy” i.e. lots of acronyms, diagrams and jargon.
The synopsis suggests four different things that might happen to the traditional commercial public service television broadcasters, with the worst case scenario being that the changes in media put them out of business.
But there is some data which gives cause for hope.
Figure 9 (p.15) gives some numbers for how traditional television advertising revenues might decline by 2020.
The two most optimistic scenarios see it declining by 0.4 billion or 0.7 billion pounds
Figure 7 (p.14) gives numbers for how revenue for web and mobile content might increase over the same time.
In the best cases it increases by 0.6 billion and 0.5 billion pounds.
So there is a possibility that by moving into the web and mobile the commercial PSBs could recover the revenue they lose from conventional tv advertising and maintain roughly their current position, presumably without throwing off their PSB obligations (which the research doesn’t refer to).
Clearly in order to make this move the commercial PSBs will need help. What kind of help is the question.
I would challenge the assumption which underlines this work that less investment in TV programmes is automatically a bad thing. In order to make the move commercial PSBs need to invest in platforms and web content rather than more programmes.
If more content is user generated the answer may be not to increase investment in content overall but concentrate on fewer, better more high quality programmes which can be put on mobiles and the web as well as conventional TV.
There is something curious about the final section of the report: 7.1: “Commercial viability of programme genres”.
This has a table (Figure 12 on page 18) which asserts that certain genres of programme are not profitable for commercial public service broadcasters. But there are no numbers attached to support it.
Are UK Children’s programmes really “very unprofitable” now (the table is for 2007), if CITV made £4 million for ITV last year?