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Ofcom ‘concerned’ about Channel 4’s falling viewership

UK communications regulator Ofcom has told Channel 4 that falling viewing share at its main channel is a ‘potential concern’ and has asked the commercial public broadcaster to give its views on its future ratings prospects.

Ofcom noted that despite increased investment in original programming at the core Channel 4 service, audience share is now just over half of the broadcaster’s total across its portfolio of channels, which also includes Film4 and E4. Against that backdrop, Ofcom has asked the broadcaster to explain how it will deliver on its public service remit.

The regulator noted an increase in commissioning of original programming from England, but added that it was potentially concerned about the broadcaster’s efforts to order and transmit programmes about different national and regional identities within the UK.

News and education output were also highlighted as areas of potential concern in the letter to Channel 4 chief executive David Abraham from Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards and chairman Colette Bowe.

Ofcom and Channel 4 decide annually how the broadcaster should deliver upon its public service remit and highlight areas in which it is performing well and others in which it must improve.

Following Channel 4 presenting its 2012 Statement of Media Content Policy and subsequent meetings between the broadcaster and Ofcom, the regulator highlighted the increased investment in original content last year and commitment to sustain that investment this year.

Ofcom also said Channel 4 was doing well in supporting a variety of production companies of differing sizes and that the broadcaster’s coverage of the Paralympics was a “clear programming success”.