ANALYSIS: MEDIA TRACK - It may broadcast Xena but Channel 5’s foothold in the UK market is getting firmer

Channel 5, the station that brought us copious helpings of Xena: Warrior Princess, has just celebrated its third birthday.

Channel 5, the station that brought us copious helpings of Xena:

Warrior Princess, has just celebrated its third birthday.



Over the last three years, Channel 5 has gradually carved itself a niche

in the nation’s viewing schedule. Its share of viewing has risen from

2.9 per cent in 1997 to 5.4 per cent during 1999.



It is the only terrestrial channel to report a rising viewing share over

this period. The average adult watched an hour and 22 minutes of Channel

5 each week in 1999. This is up from just less than three-quarters of an

hour a week in 1997, according to Barb figures.



One of Channel 5’s strengths is its film output, which, in a survey

conducted by CIA MediaLab last month, was considered excellent by a

quarter of those questioned.



Independent Television Commission research reveals 20.8 per cent of

Channel 5’s programming comprises feature films.



However, the station has often been criticised for scheduling

low-quality entertainment series and broadcasting little original

high-budget drama.



Earlier this year, the ITC agreed to lower the proportion of original

drama on the station and, in return, Channel 5 committed to increasing

its investment in these drama series.



The commission stated that the channel ’suffers from the inclusion of a

great deal of low-budget material’. Its arts output remains at less than

half a per cent of the station’s total weekly programming.



Over the past three years, Channel 5 has seen its audience profile for

the prized ABC1 adults category increase by 4.0 per cent, to comprise

38.3 per cent of the channel’s adult audience so far this year.



ITV’s ABC1 adult audience profile, which has grown by 3.4 per cent over

the same period, is only slightly higher at 39.8 per cent. Despite its

reputation as a youth station, Channel 5’s fastest-growing audience is

the over 65s, which rose by 3.8 per cent between 1997 and February 2000

to comprise 23.5 per cent of its adult audience.





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