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Digital Power: Scotland needs more to cope with media diversification trends

OfCom’s seventh annual Communications Market Report into the UK’s TV, radio, telecoms and internet industries says that multi-tasking and diversity are the hallmarks of media consumption in the UK today. 45% of people’s time is spent consuming media (by my calculation on my own waking hours, that’s about 7 hours a day). The average person now sends four times as many texts in a day than in 2004, spends nearly a quarter of their time on social networks and spends 3 hours 45 minutes a day watching TV. Media multitasking is widespread, but the time people spend watching TV remains stable alongside internet growth. 12.8m Brits now own Smartphones (c. 20% of the poulation), with Facebook taking a 45% share of time spent on the mobile internet. Online advertising spend increased to £3bn. The amount of television content produced in Scotland increased again in 2009 for the third year running All good news for the creative and digital industries and the content sector.
The divide between younger and older media use is narrowing as the older generation gets online, and more people do, the less it costs them. However, despite the digital divide disappearing around age, it appears that Scotland risks falling behind as Scotland is below the UK average when it comes to the take-up and use of broadband, fixed line telephones, social networking, games consoles and mobile phones. Fewer Scots also use the internet to access health, banking or government websites than elsewhere in the UK. Ofcom’s Director in Scotland, Vicki Nash, said:
‘This report provides a vital snapshot of communication trends in Scotland. Ofcom’s data shows improving news for Scottish broadcasting, but also a slowing in demand for broadband – Scotland is now the least connected nation in the UK’.
Digital Power – Reform Scotland’s report, launched 16.08.2010, support’s Nash’s summation. The report calls for those in poorer or remote areas, who may already suffer from social exclusion, do not become further isolated through lack of broadband connectivity and bandwidth. Although most areas have the Digital Britian recommended 2mbs connection, Scotland lacks the infrastructure for the next leap up to Superfast broadband – 50-100mbs Next Generation Access (NGA) networks. The report recommends that the Scottish Government recognises this, and produces a framework and strategy for Scotland which reflects the Digital Britain objectives, but which takes proper account of distinctly Scottish issues, such as the extensive rural landscape – a “Digital Scotland framework and strategy”.
‘The report looks at the level of digital infrastructure needed for anticipated use by households and businesses. It particularly takes into account Scotland’s strong presence in software, digital media and the creative industries and tries to anticipate the next generation of products and services such as e-health and e-education for which digital capacity is of vital importance. The report then sets out recommendations on how to create a Digital Scotland framework that utilises existing digital infrastructure and facilitates new infrastructure to provide the levels of digital capacity efficiently’. (Executive Summary, Digital Power).

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