TV was the top-ranked platform for Covid-19 news in a new Ofcom survey, while the BBC, Sky News, Guardian and Times were among the most valued newsbrands.
Ofcom’s annual news consumption survey found that TV was the most highly rated source for Covid-19 information, with 73% of TV news consumers rating it between seven and ten out of ten for quality of news provision and 72% saying it helped them understand restrictions.
- September 16, 2021
- September 15, 2021
- September 15, 2021
TV was the most used platform overall, with 79% of UK adults (aged 16 and above) using television for news. This was followed by the internet (73%), radio (46%) and print newspapers (32%) – although when traditional print is combined with newspaper websites and apps this reaches 49%.
This is the same proportion of adults who used social media for news.
Despite being the least used medium, print newspapers received the second-highest rating for Covid-19 information, with a 69% score for providing news about the pandemic.
Two-thirds rated non-social media websites (including newspaper websites) highly, while social media platforms were rated highly by just 41% of their users.
Among the UK's TV news providers, the BBC ranked top at 78% for providing news about Covid-19, but was equal with Sky News at 76% for helping people understand restrictions.
Channel 5 came bottom of the UK domestic providers with 61% of its users rating it highly on both measures in the survey, conducted online from November to December last year and February to March this year.
Of the UK's national print newspaper brands included in the survey, the Guardian/Observer ranked top with 79% for Covid-19 news and 82% for helping its readers understand restrictions. It was followed by the Times with 75% and 76%, respectively.
The BBC once again dominated online, with scores of 82% and 79%. The Guardian, Sky News, ITV and Google News made up the rest of the top five.
Facebook was the worst regarded source, with 36% of its users rating it highly for both providing Covid-19 news and helping them understand restrictions.
This is despite being the third most used source after BBC One and ITV/UTV/STV, with 36% of adults using it for news – down from 40% in 2020.
Scroll down for a ranking of the top 20 most used news sources
HuffPost, which has closed its newsdesk since the survey took place, was ranked bottom (32%) for helping its readers understand restrictions and scored below YouTube (49%) and Twitter (54%) for news provision.
BBC also topped the radio rankings, followed by LBC, which was rated highly by more than two-thirds of its listeners.
Talkradio and Talksport, combined, ranked below Capital and Heart.
Overall – not just for Covid-19 news – TV made up seven of the top 20 most used news sources. There were also four social media sites, three print/digital newspaper brands, three radio stations and three websites/apps (two of which are associated with broadcasters).
BBC One was the most used news source in each of the main demographic breakdowns (gender, age group, social class and race) except the 16–24 age group, in which it was beaten by Instagram (48% compared with 46%). Facebook and Twitter were both on 44%.
By contrast, 82% of people over 65 used BBC One to get their news and only 16% used Facebook, their most popular social media platform.
After BBC One, ITV/UTV/STV was the most popular news source for each of these groups, except among minority ethnic groups (35%) who were more likely to use Facebook (43%), Instagram (42%), Twitter or WhatsApp (both 38%).
Compared with 2020, fewer adults named BBC One (down three percentage points to 19%) or ITV (down two percentage points to 7%) as their single most important source, while more nominated the BBC website/app (up three percentage points to 11%).
Mail titles in print and online were the newspaper brand most likely to be named someone's single most important source (4%), followed by the Guardian (3%).
Picture: Shutterstock/J.J. Gouin