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28/03/2001

ITC'S ANNUAL REPORT LOOKS TOWARD FUTURE

The ITC's recently published Annual Report for 2000 looks ahead to new Government requirements in forthcoming Communications legislation and reports on the quality and diversity of the UK’s broadcasting industry.
In the report Sir Robin Biggam, chairman of ITC said: “The United Kingdom is a world leader in broadcasting and now in digital broadcasting.” He also described the steps the ITC are taking towards the integration of the regulation of broadcasting, spectrum usage and telecommunications to ensure the best possible framework for the full transition to digital.
The year 2000 saw digital television taking off faster than any other recent technology has done, with over 30 per cent of households in the UK already having access to digital.
The ITC licensed 116 new services during the year, compared with 71 in 1999 and new services included ‘Artsworld’, ‘The Community Channel’ and ‘MBI’, the first African Caribbean channel in the UK. The report shows the most marked rise in broadcast hours on cable and satellite is in the film, documentaries and children’s programming genres, with light entertainment, sport, drama and hobbies also showing rises.
Findings from a major programme of research carried out by the ITC in 2000 showed that viewers are strong supporters of a public service broadcasting. They believe that competition between the BBC and ITV maintains a high range, quality and diversity of programming. Regional programmes were considered essential, along with a flourishing regional production base.
The Government’s recent White Paper on Communications proposed a ‘first tier’ of regulation, to which all broadcasters would be subject, establishing minimum content standards. Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC) research has showed 92 per cent of viewers believe in regulation to ‘uphold standards’, particularly protecting children from material which may be harmful to them.
The explosion of new services creates a challenge for regulation and policy has to be sensitive to where new developments and consumer choices and attitudes are indicating that differing degrees of regulation are desirable.
ITC research shows there continues to be overwhelming public support for the concept of ‘family viewing time’ and the watershed. Following ITC concerns in 1999 that the transition to adult material was too rapid after 9pm, 2000 saw an improvement.
Anticipating change to the structure of communications regulation, the ITC consulted widely within the industry on a number of issues. A joint consultation with the OFT and OFTEL on digital television resulted in a report going to the Government. The ITC also worked with other bodies, including the BSC, the BBC and the Advertising Standards Authority, on several joint audience research projects.
The ITC report can be downloaded from their website: www.itc.org.uk (AMcE)
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