BBC fury: Broadcaster told to act ‘fast’ as older viewers ‘up in arms’ over youth strategy

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Older viewers’ satisfaction with the BBC is showing “signs of waning” for the first time, a report by the TV watchdog Ofcom has said. The BBC’s younger viewers have been lured by streaming giants in recent years. But Ofcom’s new report says that older audiences’ attitudes towards BBC programming could be shifting too.

Speaking on the Jeremy Vine show, commentator Peter Price said: “It’s not working.

“They’ve already tried with the late-night show on Merseyside BBC, they’re changing the music and the older viewers are up in arms.

“The BBC has got to do a very fast job to change its audience.

“The competition out there with phones and everything else is the most difficult part of the industry.

“We’ve got mass jobs going so I think the BBC has got a job and a half.”

Over-55s have been the BBC’s bread and butter audience, using and valuing it the most.

But the regulator’s annual report on the BBC states: “For the first time, satisfaction levels among audiences who typically use the BBC the most, and have been most satisfied with it, are beginning to show signs of waning.”

It said that the BBC’s “need to respond to audiences’ habits and changing markets is becoming more urgent.”

The report covers the period April 2019 to March 2020, before means-testing of the TV licence for over-75s began in August.

Vikki Cook, Ofcom director of broadcasting policy, said: “Older viewers are still likely to be more satisfied than the average UK audience with BBC services.

“This year, our research does indicate the first signs that that level of satisfaction is starting to decrease.

“So that means their audience numbers are also beginning to decline.”


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Overall positive impressions of the BBC, among adults aged 55 plus, fell from 64 percent in 2017/18 to 62 percent in 2019/20.

Overall weekly reach of the BBC, with the same age group, dropped for the first time, from 96 percent to 93 percent.

Services such as Netflix, YouTube and Spotify “are continuing to attract audiences away from the BBC” and other public service broadcasters, the report said.

It said: “While BBC radio and audio services continue to lose listeners, national commercial radio and specialist online services are seeing growth.”

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