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Regulator raises concerns with C4

UK media regulator Ofcom has warned Channel 4 about the falling number of young people watching the pubcaster’s news programmes and issued a warning about its youth digital strategy.

Ofcom meets with C4 twice a year to discuss its strategic planning and content policy to ensure its public service commitments are being met.

The regulator has written to the broadcaster this week following the latest meeting praising it in a number of areas, but raising worries in others.

Ofcom welcomed the news that C4’s annual content budget for 2012 would be at an all-time high of £455m (US$731m), up £5m on last year.

It also praised the volume of new programmes in peak times and the changes to the current affairs strategy, which included more, shorter episodes of its flagship series Dispatches. This had led to increased audiences and raised the show’s reputation.

However, the watchdog also highlighted declining viewing figures for Channel 4 News, particularly among young people. Ofcom has asked C4 to produce a strategy for dealing with the problem.

Ofcom also said that C4’s strategy for delivering online educational material to 14-19s “does not appear to be gaining traction with the target audiences in this age range.”

It also found that while the target of 3% original production in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland was being met, the proportion of programming commissioned in those regions had fallen compared with 2010. C4 has been told to review its commissioning strategy and commit to a sustainable increase.

Ofcom is about to embark on the broadcaster’s licence renewal process.

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