The Advisory Committee for Scotland (ACS) discusses a wide range of questions each year as part of its regular advice to Ofcom.

When Ofcom’s annual Communications Market Report (CMR) on Scotland is being compiled, we always comment on the findings before they become public. Now that the CMR for Scotland been published, it’s worth highlighting a few key issues.


Local issues brought into sharp focus

I found Ofcom’s research on the ways in which families are watching more TV together very positive news.

Given the number of TVs in many households, no one would be excused for thinking that everyone must be watching their own TV.

Big screens, high-definition television might be helping to reinvent the living room as a place where the family comes together to share some common purpose. But as their research notes, things are not exactly the same as the 1950s with viewers armed with laptops, smartphones, and tablet computers. What are they doing?

Twitter engages and empowers viewers

I had the opportunity to participate in a stimulating virtual seminar organized by Columbia University’s Center for Tele-Information (CITI). It featured former US FCC Chairman Reid Hunt and Blair Levin, who authored the FCC’s National Broadband Plan.

They spoke about their new book How Technology Can Fix the Budget, Revive the American Dream, and Establish Obama’s Legacy. I had not read the book, but their summary – however abbreviated - reminded me of the risks of not focusing attention on organizational innovation.

Challenge is to make the most of improving technology


We watch a lot of TV in the UK, nearly four hours a day on average according to Ofcom, which is topped only by America and Italy.

This was one of the headline grabbing facts to come out of the latest International Communications Market Report (ICMR), released this week, but not the most interesting.

My eye was drawn to the amount of internet shopping we do in the UK, which is more than any other major country.

social media children.jpg

There's been a significant increase in the amount of time children spend online, according to Ofcom's latest report on children's media habits. 

This does not surprise me but there seems to be a growing concern that all this new technology is “dumbing down” our children. Very rarely do we get to read about the great opportunity studies like this provides our next-generation on what is possible.

GCSE study

The results speak for themselves

As Ofcom's Advisory Committee for England begins to think about understanding the diversity of cities, it is interesting to see the degree that tweets can provide a perspective on the diversity of language communities. Here is an article about mapping the language communities of London, based on tweets from Fast Company - As the work points out, it is highly biased toward the English language, given the user community of Twitter.

The diverse language communities of London
UK and Ireland map

So Scotland has fewer people and more countryside than the rest of the UK? Surely all that means is that new communications technologies will be rolled out rather more slowly in Scotland.

Is there anything else we need to know about Scotland and its population distribution, in order to understand where the communications markets may fail to provide? We all know Scotland has a lot more rural areas than England, England has ten times the population, but less than twice the area of Scotland.

Population density means some areas will never be commercially viable for operators

Ofcom’s Communications Market Report for Scotland once again underlines that some significant differences exist across the UK. Scots are somewhat less likely to cut back on their communications spend than the UK average – by 47 to 52%.

And, in line with a long-observed trend in Scotland, there is a good half hour’s added TV viewing each week: 4.5 compared to the UK average of 4 hours. TV is by far the most favoured medium in Scotland whereas by contrast, Scots listen least to radio with a distinct preference for commercial stations over those of the BBC.

Not everyone can or is prepared to pay to be online
Scotland flag


Broadband take-up in Scotland has risen faster than any other UK nation over the last year, jumping 7 percentage points over 2011.

Sixty-eight per cent of homes in Scotland now have broadband, up from 61% a year earlier.

The figures are contained in Ofcom's 2012 Communications Market Report for Scotland.

Giant's Causeway


Northern Ireland has the highest availability of superfast broadband in the UK. These services are available to around 94% of premises compared to 60% for the UK as a whole.

The startling figures are contained in Ofcom's 2012 Communications Market Report for Northern Ireland.

The report also reveals that consumers in Northern Ireland are also becoming increasingly technology savvy.

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