Insights Ofcom publishes report to Secretary of State on Channel 3 and Channel 5 licensing


Ofcom has published a report to inform the relicensing process for Channel 3 and Channel 5. The report looks at whether the holders of the Channel 3 and Channel 5 licences will be able to fulfil their public service broadcasting obligations at a commercially sustainable cost, over the next ten-year licence period.

The Secretary of State now has a year to decide whether to intervene in the licensing process. Channel 3 and Channel 5’s broadcast licences are due to expire on 31 December 2024. To help inform that decision, Ofcom has a duty to provide its opinion on matters relating to the question of renewal. Based on its research and analysis, Ofcom has concluded that there is a good case to proceed with the renewal of the licences.

In summary, Ofcom found that:

  • Channel 3 and Channel 5 are likely to continue to make important contributions to public service broadcasting over the next licence period; both Channels have a good track record of delivering public service content to audiences; almost half of all people in the UK watch Channel 3 each week and nearly a third watch Channel 5; viewer satisfaction is also high (Channel 3: 75%, Channel 5: 67%); the licensees also play an important role in the health of the UK production sector, collectively spending an average of around £860 million a year on a wide range of original network content that meets different audiences needs and interests; and
  • current licence obligations could be commercially sustainable in the next licence period, but benefits are likely to reduce over time; in return for delivering their PSB licence obligations, Channel 3 and Channel 5 receive benefits that non-public service broadcasters do not: prominence within on-screen programme guides and privileged access to spectrum; as viewers and advertising revenues shift to other platforms, Ofcom recognises that commercial sustainability could come under increasing pressure; sustainability would be strengthened, however, by implementation of the Government’s proposed legislative reforms to make public service broadcasters’ services and content easier to discover online.

To access the full report, click here.