BBC Audience Figures 

1 December 2003

BBC Press Office

Audience figures are a tyranny. They tell us nothing of use and blind programme makers to the possibilities of television as an artform. They are derived from a ridiculously small sample, and show only what “the majority” are interested in – but assume that the majority are male-female-2.4-suburban, when the reality is that single people are the majority in this country (by hook or by crook) and that the 2.4 stereotype is meaningless.

So take the figures with a pinch of salt at all times… unless they agree with your preconcieved notions for how the world should be, of course.

These figures are great on that basis. In an age where the BBC is the only public service broadcaster worthy of the name (PBS anyone?), when the charlatans and crooks at ITV and BSkyB (respectively) have the lead when it comes to spinning statistics and lobbying gullible MPs, when the Grauniad is baying for the BBC’s blood (embraced capitalism at last, eh, lads?) and the Labour party is only a step behind (wither Socialism – discuss), BBC-1 still has a quarter share of the audience.

ITV is busying trying to persuade advertisers that the audience is too fragmented to be measured and thus they should stick with the Cinderella Network despite its lack of middle class viewers. Channel Four tells its advertisers that they are the only way to access the BBC’s otherwise loyal, educated and intelligent audience. The advertisers themselves want to advertise on BBC-1 as they know there is an audience that they don’t reach, an audience who aren’t interested in crappy programmes that appeal to the masses. And that’s a BBC audience (since 1922).

So rejoice in being one of the 25% who watch decent television (or better still, become one of the 11% who watch the superior BBC-2 offerings). You are paying a ridiculously small sum a day for the least worst television in the world, and it isn’t even trying to sell you soap powder.

Make ITV, C4 and the advertisers jealous. Watch the BBC. It’s worth everyone’s while.

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