It is easy to ignore or overlook Ofcom’s research on the media. On 29 November 2017 for example the regulator published Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes 2017 report. This is an annual report but it provides detailed evidence on media use, attitudes and understanding among children and young people aged 5-15. This year, for the first time the report looks at how children aged 12-15 consume news and online content, with a particular focus on their experience of ‘fake news’.
Much Ofcom research like this merits at least a quick read. Why? Partly because the content is often interesting in itself, and relevant to the work of any compliance adviser or lawyer. Secondly, because it will give you clues to Ofcom’s thinking on that subject. Third, a broadcaster or on-demand provider may be able to use the research in support of its position on a particular point or issue.
The research will often be the basis of important Ofcom guidance or decisions in a specific area. Some good illustrations are Ofcom’s research on offensive language and gestures, violence on TV, and on the application of Rule 2.1 to issues like faith healing. If you are facing a tricky Ofcom investigation on any issues on which Ofcom has published research, dig it out and check it out. It will help explain Ofcom’s approach to that issue and may provide you with some useful points to make in your defence.