This year has seen some outstanding international programmes on our television screens. The Tribe, Escape from Isis (both Channel 4) and Hunters of the South Seas (BBC2) demonstrate the power of television to engage audiences with important international issues and to shed light on how people live their lives in other countries.
And yet, the role of public service broadcasting is disputed. The BBC faces criticism for its scale and scope in the face of Charter review, and the possibility of privatising Channel 4 remains on the horizon.
International content is one of the defining elements of PSB, delivered not just through news and current affairs but across a range of genres. And, since we live in an increasingly globalised world, it should be more important than ever that we in the UK are aware of what is going on beyond our shores. Television plays a vital role since, despite the growth of the internet, it remains the main source of information for people in the UK about what is happening in the world.
It is in this context that we publish the latest findings from a unique study which we have been undertaking since 1989. It examines in detail how much international content there is on which channels, covering what topics, through which genres, in what countries and how this has changed over time.
The aim of this research is to document as accurately as possible the quantity and nature of international content on UK television, to provide a basis for an informed debate about the contribution that such content makes to our understanding of the wider world.
International Broadcasting Trust