UK’s Ethnic Minority Groups Watch Less TV, More Tech Aware

June 25, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Broadcast & Cable | Europe & Middle East | Media & Entertainment | Retail & E-Commerce | Telecom | Television

Consumers from ethnic minority groups are among the most enthusiastic and technology-aware consumers of communications services in the UK, according to research published by Ofcom.

They watch less TV – especially the biggest traditional channels – and those with internet are more likely to have broadband and to use and depend on a mobile phone than the rest of the population.

Ofcom’s “Communications Market Special Report” on ethnic minority groups (EMGs) found that 83% said that communications technology is important to them, compared with the UK average of 69%.

In addition, some 72% of people from EMGs said they keep up with technology, compared with the UK average of 59%, and 63% said they could not happily live without a mobile phone (vs. 50% for the UK overall).

Telecom and Internet

The report shows that adoption levels of telecom and internet services among people from EMGs compare favorably with the overall UK population’s.


Of all internet users in the UK, a higher proportion of people from EMGs have broadband (80%) than the UK average (74%). Some 86% of EMG households have a fixed-line telephone (89% UK) and mobile adoption is higher among EMGs (83% vs. 80% UK average).

A higher proportion of people from EMGs (44%) rely primarily on their mobile to receive calls than the UK population (31%). Also, a higher proportion of EMGs (43%) are on mobile phone contracts (as opposed to prepay) than the general UK population (33%).


EMG households spend more on fixed line telephone services. Some 32% of EMG households spend 71 pounds per month or more on fixed line services, compared with just 25% of all UK households.



EMG individuals watch less television per day (3 hrs, 16 min) than the average person in the UK (3 hrs, 37 min). Of the television they do watch, they have a stronger preference for films (13.5% of total EMG viewing, compared with 9.6% UK average) and children’s programming (3.9% of EMG viewing, vs. 2.3% UK average).

EMG adults spend less time (at 1.5 hours a day) watching television on channels run by public service broadcasters (PSBs – BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, S4C, GMTV and Public Teletext) than the UK average of 2.5 hours per day. The PSB channels account for just under half (48%) of EMG viewing, compared with 68% of the average UK viewer’s time spent watching television.

There are only small differences between EMGs and the overall population in viewing of Channel 4 and Five, but there are larger gaps on BBC1 and BBC2 (BBC1 UK average viewing share is 23%, but 16% for EMGs. The UK average for BBC2 is 8.9%, but 4.9% for EMGs).

The largest gap exists with ITV, which accounts for 20.3% of viewing time across the UK but 11.5% with EMG viewers.

EMG households are more likely to watch satellite or cable TV than Freeview. Just 12% of EMG adults said they had Freeview compared to a 29% UK average. In contrast, 60% of EMG households have a cable or satellite television service compared to a UK-wide average of 52%.


When choosing communications services, EMG adults are in many ways more likely to take their children’s needs into account.

For example, when asked to value the benefits of digital television, 66% of parents from EMGs mentioned the ability to set parental controls, compared with the UK average of 47%.

Likewise, when asked the reasons for having the internet at home, some 74% of EMG adults mentioned their children’s education, compared with the UK average of 47%.

About the report: The Ofcom report looks individually at the following ethnic groups: Asian total, Indian, Pakistani, Black Caribbean and Black African. Ethnic minority groups are also reported as a whole that includes Mixed, Asian or Asian British, Black or Black British, Chinese and other non-white ethnic groups. The full text of all reports can be found here.


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