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MEDIA NEWS

Just one more episode…

A surge in screen time during the height of lockdown saw people in the UK spend 40% of their waking hours watching TV, with 12 million new sign-ups to streaming services. That’s according to Ofcom’s third annual Media Nations report, reviewing key trends in the TV, online video and audio sectors. During April 2020, people kept themselves informed and entertained by spending, on average, six hours and 25 minutes each day watching TV and online video content – a rise of almost a third (31%) on last year. The biggest factor behind this increase was people spending twice as much time watching subscription streaming services such as NetflixDisney+ and Amazon Prime Video – one hour 11 minutes per day on average in April 2020.

The virtual dog ate my homework

Children learning remotely were not doing as much schoolwork as they would in regular term-time, meaning that most were instead spending a large amount of time online, and alone in their rooms, according to Ofcom’s study on Children’s Media Lives – Life in Lockdown. Most kids were using TikTok for several hours each day, and reported that it was a good way to ‘kill time’.

Although face-to-face contact was limited during lockdown, children developed new routines and behaviours to socialise online. Many were using gaming as a way to catch-up with friends, and most were regularly ‘multi-screening’ either while gaming or using social media. After an initial surge in interest, kids had disengaged with the news about COVID-19, some due to feeling anxious and others due to lack of interest, whilst some continued to receive news passively via their social media networks.

Because you’re worth it (ish)

Advertising spend across the media fell by more than £1bn year on year during the lockdown, according to new figures published in the Guardian this week. Traditional media advertising spend, including TV, newspapers, magazines and radio, almost halved from the start of lockdown on 23 March to the end of June. The widespread freezing of marketing budgets led to a 48% fall in ad spend from £2.3bn to £1.2bn year on year. TV bore the brunt of cuts, with total spend down by almost £500m (37%) year on year to £822m. Spend on newspapers and magazines fell by £155m (42%) and radio marketing dropped by more than a third (£79m).

However it’s not all bad news – a few advertisers significantly upped their spend. The Government has become the UK’s biggest advertiser during the pandemic, with the need for national health and safety messaging resulting in Public Health England spending £44m, a 5,000% year-on-year increase.

LAUNCH OF THE WEEK

In the latest step designed to combat the fake news ‘epidemic’, WhatsApp has introduced a feature allowing users to check the contents of viral messages, according to the Guardian.

It coincides with pressure from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s ongoing disinformation inquiry, which is seeking to root out fake news on social media platforms. The feature, which is being piloted in six countries including the UK from Tuesday, allows users to perform a Google search on content they have been forwarded to fact check claims and information. The Facebook-owned app has added a magnifying glass icon that will appear next to messages that have been forwarded through chains of five or more people. Tapping it searches the message’s contents online, with the hope that this should reveal if it contains conspiracy theories or misinformation.

MEDIA MOVES

Lucy Fisher will be joining The Daily Telegraph later in the year as Deputy Political Editor. She was previously Defence Editor at The Times.

Bill McLoughlin has been appointed as the Weekend Editor at the Daily Express.

Josh Spero has been appointed Acting Associate Editor of the FT Magazine.

Louise Eccles has been appointed Consumer Affairs Editor at The Sunday Times, starting in September. She has previously been a Money Journalist at the Daily Mail and most recently working in communications for John Lewis & Partners.

James Murdoch has resigned from the board of News Corporation, citing ‘disagreements’ over editorial content. The corporation owns The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun newspapers as well as Dow Jones.

If your organisation needs communications advice, or you would like more information about how Lexington’s team of media experts can support you, please contact Patrick Foster, Head of Corporate Communications.

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