World Media 2006: UK

The abounding confidence of last year has subsided after the London bombings and a poor Christmas on the high street. Meanwhile, the country is gearing up to switch over to digital TV.

Last spring, the mood in Britain was confident almost to the point of being smug. Economically, the country was continuing to outperform its main European competitors; and politically, it was steady as she goes, with Tony Blair's New Labour party poised to win a third straight general election - this despite deep disquiet over Blair's policies (past and present) regarding Iraq and the nature of his political relationship with George W Bush's US presidency.

How different things feel a year later - and the feeling of introspection is striking. Since then, we've had the London bombings of last July and a loss of economic confidence that not only resulted in a poor Christmas for high-street retailers but could also spell a future electoral meltdown for the current Government.

The chancellor, Gordon Brown, widely seen as the natural successor to Blair, is likely to carry the can for economic underperformance, and his room for manoeuvre was reduced even further by Blair's embarrassing climbdown at the European Union summit in December - when he was forced to hand back a total of £1 billion a year to the EU coffers until 2013.

Meanwhile, the highest point of last year was, in theory, the UK's winning bid for the 2012 Olympics. 2012 is a date looming in the media calendar too - it's when the country's evolution from analogue to wholly digital TV transmission is expected to be complete. The charge is being led by BSkyB (which signed up its eight millionth customer back in December) and the BBC.

As neither network has advertising as its main focus (the BBC is funded by a licence fee and Sky relies mainly on subscriptions), that continues to worry advertisers. In the UK, free-to-air commercial television, itself dominated by one player, ITV, continues to be squeezed in the middle ground.

Meanwhile, in 2006, we're due to see research both from the industry audience research panel, Barb, and from individual broadcasters, on the extent to which personal video recorder viewing erodes television advertising effectiveness. Initial indications are that the effects might not be as severe as the pessimists believe.

But the mood was gloomy over the first quarter of 2006. With high-street retailers suffering post-Christmas blues and some advertisers holding back budget for the World Cup, all sectors save the internet were struggling.

ADVERTISING EXPENDITURE USdollars million at current prices. All years based on US$1= £0.55. *Estimated Total TV Newspapers Magazines Radio 1994 11,796 3,823 4,993 2,009 343 1995 12,795 4,153 5,288 2,237 421 1996 13,797 4,473 5,559 2,504 481 1997 15,203 4,906 6,054 2,762 553 1998 16,604 5,334 6,560 3,002 650 1999 17,620 5,717 6,966 3,010 724 2000 19,429 6,094 7,807 3,160 830 2001 18,583 5,514 7,629 3,099 758 2002 18,619 5,759 7,496 2,916 768 2003 19,226 5,812 7,607 2,852 815 2004 20,657 6,213 7,950 2,958 846 2005 21,271 6,307 7,924 2,971 811 2006* 22,359 6,578 8,124 3,026 828 2007* 23,434 6,827 8,329 3,083 848 2008* 24,566 7,142 8,542 3,143 874 Total Outdoor Online Cinema 1994 11,796 545 0 83 1995 12,795 589 0 107 1996 13,797 666 0 114 1997 15,203 779 13 137 1998 16,604 877 31 150 1999 17,620 926 84 192 2000 19,429 1,085 253 200 2001 18,583 1,054 273 255 2002 18,619 1,074 324 282 2003 19,226 1,187 672 280 2004 20,657 1,319 1,072 299 2005 21,271 1,405 1,548 304 2006* 22,359 1,493 1,997 313 2007* 23,434 1,590 2,436 321 2008* 24,566 1,661 2,874 330 Adspend notes 1) After discounts. 2) Excludes production costs, except for cinema and outdoor. 3) Excludes 15 per cent agency commission. 4) Includes classified advertising. FACTFILE Highest circulating titles - Newspaper: News of the World (Sunday, 3.7 million copies) - Business magazine: The Economist (weekly, 147,000 copies) - Consumer magazine: Take A Break (weekly, 1.2 million) Top TV shows - Most watched TV programme: Coronation Street - Best new TV format: Strictly Come Dancing (Pro-celebrity ballroom dancing) Major measurement tools - Circulation: Audit Bureau of Circulations - Readership: National Readership Survey - TV viewing: Broadcasters' Audience Research Board Main media owners - Newspapers: News International, Trinity Mirror, Daily Mail & General Trust - Magazines: IPC, Emap, The National Magazine Company - Television: BBC, ITV, BSkyB

THE LOWDOWN

Media topic du jour: Despite major relaunches, especially at the quality end of the market, newspaper circulations continue to decline. Will 2006 see one of the national titles bite the dust?

Reigning media guru and why: Andy Duncan, the chief executive of Channel 4. At the BBC, he was the mastermind behind the runaway success of Freeview, the system delivering digital TV to conventional aerials. Now, he's pioneering simulcast live streaming of Channel 4 programming via the internet.

Media mogul to be seen dining with: James Murdoch, son of Rupert and chief executive of BSkyB, has been emerging as his own man - and one to be reckoned with.

Car to drive: Toyota Prius.

Phone to carry: Samsung D600.

Whatever you do, don't say: I can't wait for the penalty shoot-out against Germany this summer.

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