Torin Douglas is right to question the conclusions of the Barwise report about the BBC’s digital TV services (MW October 22). The report concludes: “Television is a mass medium, with only weak segmentation, not a niche medium.”
Since the BBC has committed 80 per cent of its resources for new services on channels targeting viewers under 35 years old, Barwise rightly focused on the connection between channel viewing and age.
A critical flaw in the BBC’s strategy, he said, was the belief that it could target programmes at specific groups – in this case age groups.
Every shred of evidence in the report showed that other than at the extremes of the age spectrum (the under-fives) the targeting of a channel at a specific age group did not work.
So far so good and so far Barwise cannot be faulted. Where Mr Douglas is right is questioning the evidence in the report to generalise the conclusion about niches to factors other than age.
The BBC’s focus on a narrow age band may have failed, but Barwise is wrong to conclude from this that all forms of niche TV channels, not based on age, will suffer the same fate.