What their telly tells them, most Brits can’t always tell

LONDON—Two studies, run in tandem, have found that 71% of adults in the United Kingdom can’t always understand clearly what is said on television.

One study was a joint project of the Danish hearing aid manufacturer, Widex, and Britain’s Channel 4. The other was undertaken by the British Broadcasting Company (BBC).

One purpose of the studies was to test the complaint by viewers that excessive background music was obscuring the speech of actors and presenters enough to reduce viewers’ understanding. There were two groups of subjects: One consisted of 8000 members of the BBC Pulse adult online panel; the other group was made up of 508 non-Internet users aged 65 and over.

The researchers found that 70% of the online adults experienced problems (59% occasionally, 11% always or often) hearing what was being said. Among the older, non-Internet participants, this percentage rose to 76% with problems (occasionally 59%, always/often 17%).

Among other findings was that 62% of the over-65 group reported that background music reduced their enjoyment of a TV program. Also, of those in the older group who also had poor or very poor hearing, 99% said they had difficulties hearing speech clearly on TV, even though 61% of them used hearing aids.



An analysis of the findings revealed that poor speech intelligibility resulted more often from technical issues during recording of programs than from the subsequent overlaying of a soundtrack.

In response to the survey, the BBC has launched an industrywide training initiative through the BBC Academy. The goal is to improve the quality and speech intelligibility of recording of TV programs.

For more information on this study, visit  Widex UK