Ofcom consultation on the Channel 3 and 5 licences
In response to the request from Ofcom for comments on these proposals, the International Broadcasting Trust submits this paper.
IBT welcomes the fact that Channel 3 and Channel 5 have not proposed any changes to their national and international news and current affairs obligations. We also welcome that no changes have been proposed to the original production or independent production quotas by either channel.
Thus, in answer to Question 1 of the consultation, IBT agrees that the there should be no reduction in the existing obligations on Channel 3 and Channel 5 licensees in respect of national and international news and current affairs, and original productions should be maintained at their current levels. However, IBT would like to propose that Ofcom should monitor the delivery of international current affairs.
Ofcom used to monitor the amount of international content in general but stopped doing so two years ago. We propose that Ofcom should resume measuring the amount of international content – specifically analysing, as an element of this work, the amount of international current affairs. As well as being an explicit obligation in their licences, it is a statutory commitment in the Communications Act (2003), clause 279, that both Channel 3 and Channel 5 provide news and current affairs programmes which deal with international matters.
IBT is concerned that the obligation to broadcast a range of international current affairs programmes isn’t being adequately met at the present time. From recent research it is clear that there has been a decline in the spend on current affairs programming in general and a significant reduction in the amount international current affairs programmes.