You are weird, and 17 other things we learned from Ofcom's Communications Market Report

You oddball. Yes, you.

We are getting more and more connnected

But almost more interesting are the trends which have turned around. Digital radio take-up has declined in recent years, MP3 player usage has flatlined, and mobile broadband is less used than it has ever been since Ofcom started tracking it. At least some of that is likely to be cannibalisation by smartphones, which can do all of that and more. And sure enough, "internet on mobile" is the fastest growing category on either of these tables.

No one wants to give up TV

When people are asked the one activity which they couldn't give up, watching TV is still number one by a huge margin. But using mobiles is steadily becoming more and more of a necessity — and no wonder, because they can do almost all the rest and more.

Because we all watch it all the time

We're actually spending more time in front of the TV than we did five years ago, and slightly less time using the internet on computers. We've doubled the amount of time on a mobile, but from such a tiny base, there's a lot more to go.

Media "stacking" and media "meshing" are things

This is basically OFCOM splitting the commonly accepted definition of "second screening"—literally using a second screen while you watch TV—into two different things. Media meshing is doing something related to what you're watching on telly, while media stacking is doing something completely different. Meshing is what the broadcasters want you to do, since it increases the value to advertisers and allows them to demonstrate how engaged you are with their content. Stacking is what you actually are doing, though. More than half of us have done something else while watching TV. Young people do both more, but the difference is stark when it comes to meshing. 

Tablets get shared around

If you're the only person who uses your tablet, you're in the minority. Two thirds of them are used by someone else, normally partners or children.

You are weird

Only 32 per cent of the UK get their news from the internet. You—yes, you, dear reader—are an odd minority.

That said, this figure is self-reported, and it shows. The thought that 79 per cent of the country doesn't "use" word of mouth for news is faintly ridiculous. So it may be the case that people actually do use websites for news, but just don't think of it because it's part of a larger process of general newsgathering.

Even so, it's clear that TV rules the roost. And not even the rolling news channels, just good, old-fashioned BBC One. Remember that, next time you wonder why Ed Miliband is prepared to sound like a robot to get his talking point on the 6 O'clock News.

YouTube isn't as popular as it seems

Slightly over half of Britain admitted to "regularly" viewing video clips. Again, it may be a reporting error, but it's far lower than regular visitors of the New Statesman website may expect.

No-one uses their DVR

Two thirds of Britain has the ability to time-shift their viewing of TV, thanks to services like Sky+; but only a tenth of the country actually does it. 

The five-channel model of TV is out of date

Almost every home now watches at least 15 minutes of TV on a channel other than the big five once a week, and nearly 50 per cent of our watching time is spent on these other channels. The big losers have been BBC One and ITV, which no longer command anywhere near the share they did in the 1980s.

Men like sports, women like "living"

BBC One is the channel with the best male/female balance, while some channels have an unusally gendered audience: News is blokey, apparently, while all the ITV channels except the deliberately male-focused ITV4 have strong female audiences.

A fun quirk, that CBBC apparently has a "younger" audience than Cbeebies, is probably due to the fact that parents are more likely to watch TV with their toddlers than with older children. That would also explain the gender balance for those channels, since stay-at-home parents are overwhelmingly women.

Spotify is boss

But there's still room for more book clubs in the market, at least.

Rich people have more devices

Not particularly surprising, maybe; but there are a couple of quirks in the data. The most interesting is the flat graph for games consoles, which supports anecdotal evidence that these all-in-one entertainment boxes are a favourite of poorer families. The PS3, for instance, is also one of the cheapest internet-enabled devices on the market.

People who don't have the internet don't want the internet

A lot of ink is spilled on the "digital divide"—the damage caused by being offline in this day and age—but by far the most common reason given for not having the internet is a lack of interest. Just under a quarter can't afford it, and at least eight per cent of them wouldn't want one even if they could.

Amazon has taken ebay's crown

Meanwhile, the legacy retailers are far less popular.

Texting is dying

Landlines got more expensive last year, even though we used them less

On average, we made fewer calls, but paid more for the whole thing. "NTS" calls refer to phone calls to 08 numbers.

The 18 month mobile phone contract is no more

In boosting us all onto 24 month contracts, the carriers get an extra six months of locking us into the stupidly high fees we invariably accept for the latest mobiles. Stupid us.

Spare a thought for poor Royal Mail

The surprising thing about this is how long it took. The internet's been killing post for decades, yet we still sent well over twice the letters in 2007 as we do now. Well, unless you are under 35; then you've never used the post.

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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What’s it like to be a human rights activist in post-Pussy Riot Russia?

It is five years since the feminist punk collective crashed Moscow’s Cathedral in a performance that got some of them jailed.

On 21 February 2012, five brightly-dressed members of Russian feminist punk collective Pussy Riot took to the alter of Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour to protest links between the Russian Orthodox Church and its “chief saint” Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Virgin birth-giver of God, drive away Putin!” they shouted from beneath now-iconic balaclavas.

The “Punk Prayer” was both a political statement and a powerful feminist message. Six months later, a judge sentenced three of the girls to two years in prison (one was rapidly released) on a conspicuously apolitical conviction of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred”.

These past five years, Russia’s involvement in crises in Syria and Ukraine has cast a dark shadow over relations with an increasingly cleaved-off West. The year 2015 saw opposition politician Boris Nemtsov murdered some 500 metres from the Kremlin walls.

Domestically, society has constricted people challenging the political status quo. However, low-key initiatives retain traction.

“Artists are simply silent,” says Russian curator and gallerist Marat Guelman, who left for Montenegro in early 2015. “It is better not to say anything about politics, it is better to bypass these issues.”

This is a major difference from five years ago. “Despite persecution against Pussy Riot, people were not afraid to defend them,” he says. “It was a better time.”

There are three topics artists and curators now avoid, says artist and feminist activist Mikaela. One is “homosexuality . . . especially if it involves adolescents”, she says, citing a 2015 exhibit about LGBT teens called “Be Yourself”. Authorities closed it and interrogated the galley owner. “Then the war in Ukraine,” she says. “Russian Orthodoxy is the third topic you cannot tackle.”

Marianna Muravyeva, a law professor at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, says that aside from the government completely discarding human rights rhetoric, the most significant legal change is the “gay propaganda” law and “legislation against those who insult the feelings of believers”.

The latter came into force in July 2013. Since then, the Orthodox Church has made deeper societal incursions. Muravyeva says that the secular nature of the Soviet Union led to residual feelings of guilt towards the Church – and now it uses that “capital”.

Mikaela observes a “cultural expansion”, citing a new TV channel, radio station and three new churches in her neighbourhood alone.

Orthodox activist attacks on exhibits have increased. In August 2015, they targeted an exhibit at one of Moscow’s most prominent art galleries. Its perpetrators were found guilty of “petty hooliganism” and handed a 1,000 rouble fine (£14 by today’s rates).

“Any word written in Old Slavonic lettering is spirituality,” says Guelman. “Any work of art by a modern artist . . . depravity, sin, the impact of the West.”

Similar groups are active across Russia, and galleries err on the side of caution. Perpetrators, while self-organised, believe their actions to be state-sanctioned, says Muravyeva. They are influenced by “the kinds of messages” conveyed by the government. 

Nowadays, self-organisation is integral to artistic expression. Mikaela witnessed educational institutions and foreign foundations telling artists “we are with you”, “we know you are smart” but they cannot host political works for fear of closure. Not knowing where the “invisible line” lies foments uncertainty. “It’s self-censorship,” she says.

Dissident artist Petr Pavlensky, notorious for nailing his scrotum to the Red Square in late 2013 (“Fixation”) and setting fire to the doors of the FSB in 2015, advocates personal agency.

“Fixation” was about a sense of helplessness in Russia that must be overcome; he tried to convey the amount of power the castrated have. “Pavlensky says, ‘Look, I have even less than you’,” says Guelman. The artist and his partner Oksana Shalygina are now in France intending to seek asylum after sexual assault accusations.

Some rise to the opportunity, such as Daria Serenko. She rides the Moscow Metro carrying political posters as part of Tikhy Piket or “Silent Protest”. Her 12 February sign depicted a girl with her head in her arms inundated by the comments received if a women alleges rape (“she was probably drunk”, “what was she wearing?”).

However, as a lone individual in a public space, she experienced hostility. “Men, as always, laughed,” she posted on Facebook afterwards. Earlier this month an anonymous group pasted painted plants accompanied by anti-domestic violence messages around Omsk, southwestern Siberia.

Their appearance corresponded with Putin signing legislation on 7 February decriminalising domestic abuse that causes “minor harm”. While it doesn’t specifically mention women, Muravyeva says that the message “women can manage on their own” is a “disaster”.

On 27 January, after Russia’s parliament passed the final draft, pro-Kremlin tabloid Life released a video (“He Beats You Because He Loves You”) showing how to inflict pain without leaving a mark.

Heightened social awareness is aided by online networks. Since “Punk Prayer”, the proportion of people using the internet in Russia has exploded. In 2011, it was 33 per cent, while in 2016 it was 73 per cent, according annual Freedom House reports. Authorities have concurrently exerted stronger controls over it, eg. targeting individual social media users through broadly-worded laws against “extremism”.

Last July, the hashtag #ЯНеБоюсьСказать (“#IamNotAfraidtoSay”) went viral. Women documented experiences of sexual violence. Russian organisation Сёстры (“Sisters”), which helps survivors receive psychological support, receives “250-350” crisis calls annually.

“Over the past year, the number of applications increased,” because of the hashtag, it says. New media platforms Meduza and Wonderzine also emerged as more “socially aware” outlets. Previously “all we had was LiveJournal communities,” Mikaela says.

Bottom-up challenges are partially due to a generational shift. “Nobody bothered before,” says Muravyeva. “Those children who were born after ‘95 . . . they were already born in a very free society – they don’t know what it is to be afraid, they don’t know what it is to be self-censoring, what it is to be really scared of the state.”

Aliide Naylor is a British journalist and former Arts and Ideas Editor of The Moscow Times.

> Now read Anoosh Chakelian’s interview with Nadya Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot