Five is the newest of Britain's public service broadcasters. Although there are recommendations from Ofcom for its future, everything could change if the much-speculated merger with Channel 4 goes ahead.

Five has been told that its PSB commitments will be cut down in the long-term with regard to news and UK programming. There will also be some minor short-term changes in the mix as well.

But Ofcom overtly suggests that merger with Channel 4 should be strongly considered: "Another option could be for Channel 4 to merge with a commercial organisation, such as Five. Any partnership would need to maintain and strengthen delivery of the public purposes."

Short-term changes

The major change for Five in the short term is how many of its programmes are to be made outside of London.

"We will set the originations quota for Channel Five at 50 per cent, with a 40 per cent figure in peak-time, with effect across the calendar year 2009 and thereafter," says Ofcom's report.

Long-term changes

Should Five remain independent of Channel 4 it will be relieved of some of its public service broadcasting (PSB) commitments if the government follows Ofcom's recommendations.

"Free up ITV and Five as strong commercial networks making entertaining, engaging UK content including national and international news, but with limited public service commitments," Ofcom recommends.

"The public service obligations for the Channel Five service are far more limited than those of Channel 3 and Five is already paying a market related rate for its DTT (digital terrestrial television) capacity rather than just a share of costs. The inherent tension in the Channel Five licence is, therefore, not as great.

"Five wishes to retain its public service broadcasting status. We believe this model should be maintained and the service should focus on UK original programming and national news, consistent with the proposed obligations on the Channel 3 licences."