The BBC needs to do “much more” to attract younger audiences to its services, according to Ofcom’s annual report on the corporation.
But, the regulator added, the BBC still plays a central role in the audiences’ media and news consumption.
Ofcom’s head Sharon White said some viewers felt certain services were “not relevant to their lives”.
In response, the BBC said it had a “clear plan to meet the needs of younger and diverse audiences”.
White said: “The BBC is still a vital, valued part of British culture. But we’re concerned that a new generation is tuning out of its services. So, the BBC must set out bolder plans to connect with younger viewers and listeners.”
She added the BBC needs to “broaden the appeal of its news, which some viewers and listeners feel isn’t relevant to their lives. And the BBC must find ways to be more distinctive online, where our research shows younger people are passing it by.”
In a statement, a spokesman for the BBC responded: “We welcome Ofcom’s recognition that audience satisfaction remains high and that the BBC continues to deliver for British audiences.
“The BBC has a clear plan in place to meet the needs of younger and diverse audiences, outlined in this year’s Annual Plan. It is focused on BBC iPlayer, BBC Sounds and BBC News Online. All three have grown strongly in the last year. So our plan is clearly working. But we want to do even more for young and diverse audiences and we will set out our next steps in our [next] Annual Plan.”
Over the last year, the BBC has commissioned several programmes which are clearly intended to particularly appeal to a young audience – such as RuPaul’s Drag Race UK and Little Mix star Jesy Nelson’s documentary about body image.
The corporation has also experimented with uploading full box sets of its drama series, such as Killing Eve, so viewers can binge-watch them as they do with other streaming services.
The report dealt with several services specifically, including the corporation’s news output.
Ofcom said news output is seen by some as “representing a white, middle-class and London-centric point of view that is not relevant to their lives”.
It continued: “For some whom we spoke to, the BBC is just ‘one of many’ online news providers.”
The regulator said its research into BBC news and current affairs found that young viewers were increasingly consuming their news via social media and aggregator services.
It added that when people find their news this way their engagement is typically “fleeting” and that they usually only read a headline of brief paragraph before moving on.
The regulator also highlighted a “perceived lack of diversity in BBC reporters and presenters”.
“The BBC should better represent the whole of the UK with authentic news and current affairs content that feels relevant and engaging to all audiences,” it said.
In one of its main findings, the Ofcom report stated the corporation’s editorial complaints process lacks transparency.
It highlighted the corporation’s recent reversal of the decision to partially uphold a complaint against the BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty, who had expressed an opinion on comments made by President Trump.
“We consider that the way in which the BBC has handled the recent Naga Munchetty case highlights that it should provide more transparency on the reasons for its findings on compliance with its editorial guidelines which reflect the Ofcom Broadcasting Code.
“We will be addressing the BBC’s lack of transparency in this area as a matter of urgency”.
Ofcom concluded: “We expect the BBC to now set out publicly its plan for addressing these recurring themes: engagement with young people; representation and portrayal; commitment to transparency; and commitment to new original UK programmes, as well as how it will engage with the recommendations of review of news and current affairs.”