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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 February 2006, 16:36 GMT
'Fewer young people' watching TV
Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps
Are young people pursuing other interests?
Fewer young people are watching television, according to a report by the media watchdog Ofcom.

Between December 2003 and December 2005, total TV reach declined but the biggest fall was among young people - it fell by 2.9% for 16-24 year-olds.

During 2005, reach declined by 2.2% in that age group.

Reach is defined as at least 15 minutes of consecutive TV viewing in a week. Industry figures say the decline could be due to the growth of the internet.

DVDs and gaming could also be factors, they said.

Among 25-34 year-olds, reach fell by 1.9%, according to Ofcom.

ITV1 had the greatest single-channel decline in reach in multi-channel homes - homes which had extra channels as well as terrestrial ones. It fell by 3.6% during 2005.

BBC Two was the only terrestrial channel to increase its reach in multi-channel homes over the year with a rise of 1.6%.

Digital boost

The BBC channels had the biggest share in multi-channel homes overall, with 30.8% of the audience. The ITV channels had 22.6%, while Channel 4 had 8.6%.

By the end of September 2005, over two thirds of UK households - 16.5 million - had access to digital television.

Ofcom recently announced proposals to allow sponsorship of entire commercial television channels and radio stations. Currently, only individual programmes can be sponsored.

Ofcom wants to allow channel sponsorship but with a number of restrictions, including no sponsorship of news and current affairs programmes.

Proposals for other possible sources of future funding, such as product placement, are also under discussion.

Meanwhile, Stonewall has criticised the BBC for allegedly perpetuating negative attitudes towards lesbians and gay men.

Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Clarkson was among the presenters criticised by Stonewall

A study for the charity found gay people figured in only 38 minutes out of 168 hours of programming on BBC One and BBC Two.

Researchers said they found 32 minutes of the coverage contained derogatory or offensive references on programmes including The Weakest Link and Top Gear.

The report said: "The BBC rarely challenges homophobia and consistently allows its presenters to perpetuate negative attitudes towards lesbians and gay men and gay sexuality."

The BBC defended its output, citing the recent EastEnders storyline involving Sonia and Naomi and the bisexual character Captain Jack in Doctor Who as examples of its "richness and diversity".

A BBC spokeswoman added: "We feel the notion that gay men and lesbians only receive value for money from the licence fee through seeing direct representation of gay life is misconceived."

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