Ofcom study shows less arts content investment

A study by the broadcasting regulator Ofcom says broadcasters are spending less on arts programmes.

The study examined the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five, the UK’s public service broadcasters, and their work in arts content, original content and content which was acquired, according to a BBC report on the study. The report showed that spending on arts and classical music content on television fell by 39 percent from £72 million in 2006 to £44 million in 2011, according to the BBC report. The report from Ofcom adds that funding on first run arts and classical music programmes also fell by 15 percent, according to a BBC report.

A spokesperson for Ofcom told the BBC that first run content budget had been influenced by major sport events, and that 2011 had far fewer major sport events, according to the BBC. “We publish each of the PSB channels’ spending on first-run, originated programming based on returns provided by each broadcaster, and on the same basis as all the previous PSB annual reports,” the spokesperson said. “The report also includes details of total spend on network content and first-run originated spend for viewers in each of the nations.”

In a statement to Kettle, a BBC spokesperson said the BBC continually invests in original arts programmes. “The BBC is the biggest producer and investor in original arts and music programmes in the UK and continues to play a unique role in the country’s cultural life, showing acclaimed content across all our channels, including the recent Cultural Olympiad output, the Year of Books and an on-going commitment to the premiere classical music festival The BBC Proms which is funded and broadcast exclusively by the BBC,” the spokesperson said. “Alongside this the BBC forms partnerships with other arts organisations such as the Royal Opera House, The Southbank Centre, The Barbican and Arts Council England as well as funding its five orchestras and professional choir.”

The BBC spokesperson added that the BBC remained the biggest commissioner of new music around the world, and that despite cuts, the BBC’s supports to the arts remains crucial. “As with all areas of the BBC, arts and music have not been immune to efficiency savings but our commitment to them remains unequivocal and we measure our success in terms of impact and quality as well as spend,” the spokesperson said.

A request to Five seeking comment on the study was not returned. A spokesperson for Channel 4 declined to comment. ITV did not respond to a phone message seeking comment on the study.

Ofcom’s review of this content is part of the annual report into public service broadcasters across the UK and levels of content, including original content that is made available.