Overview of the UK media sector

Emma Knowles, Editorial assistant
March, 2018

Jobs in the media are increasingly dominated by graduates - so gaining a good degree, coupled with some practical work experience, is often the best route into these roles

What areas can I work in?

Employment opportunities can be grouped into:

  • advertising
  • animation
  • business-to-business (B2B) media
  • digital marketing
  • film
  • games
  • interactive media
  • journalism
  • post-production
  • publishing
  • radio
  • scriptwriting
  • special effects
  • technical production
  • television
  • web design.

Graduate entry roles are often at assistant level and include jobs such as runner, media researcher, production assistant and editorial assistant.

As with most other sectors, you can work for larger media and internet companies in areas such as finance, marketing and human resources (HR). For more information about digital marketing roles, see marketing, advertising and PR.

For examples of job roles in this sector, see graduate jobs in media and internet.

Who are the main graduate employers?

Examples of employers in the media sector include:


  • Bloomberg
  • BuzzFeed
  • The Guardian
  • The Independent
  • Johnston Press (includes i, The Scotsman and The Yorkshire Post)
  • News UK (includes The Sun and The Times)
  • PA (Press Association)
  • Telegraph Media Group
  • Thomson Reuters
  • Trinity Mirror.


  • Aardman Animations
  • Endemol Shine UK
  • FremantleMedia UK
  • Hat Trick
  • Raw TV
  • Real SFX
  • Tiger Aspect Productions
  • Wall to Wall
  • ZigZag Productions.


  • Bauer Media Group
  • Bloomsbury Publishing
  • Faber & Faber
  • Future PLC
  • HarperCollins UK
  • Hearst Magazines UK
  • Oxford University Press
  • Pearson
  • Penguin Random House
  • Time Inc. UK.

Radio and television

  • BBC
  • Channel 4
  • Global (includes Classic FM, Heart and LBC)
  • ITV
  • Sky UK
  • Virgin Media
  • Wireless Group (includes talkSPORT).

There are a number of directories you can use to find media production companies in your area, including Kays and The Knowledge.

What's it like working in the media and internet sector?

You can expect:

  • freelance work and short contracts to be commonplace
  • long and unsociable hours
  • opportunities to work away from home or abroad, such as when filming on location or covering foreign affairs as a journalist
  • an average graduate starting salary of £30,000 at major employers, unchanged for the past four years (according to High Fliers' The Graduate Market in 2018 report), but for salaries to vary considerably.

To find out more about typical salaries and working conditions in your chosen career, see job profiles.

What are the key issues in the media and internet sector?

This sector can be a notoriously difficult one to enter. High Fliers' The Graduate Market in 2018 report noted that graduate vacancies in the media have more than halved between 2007 and 2017.

Major employers, for example Sky UK, HarperCollins UK and Virgin Media, run graduate schemes, but to secure work in smaller organisations, networking and building contacts is essential.

The sector is also dealing with a historical shift. According to the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA), in 2017 UK consumers spent more on digital media - music, video and games - than 'traditional' media - books, magazines and newspapers - for the first time, at £7.2billion compared to £7.1billion respectively.

The worrying knock-on effects, such as how to fund online content and maintain the high quality and frequency of updates that has come to be expected by consumers, are being addressed over the next few years as modern trends are identified and analysed.

Journalism is a still a popular career choice and particularly hard area to get into. With newsrooms shrinking following the decline of print publications, and the challenge of making money from online news, opportunities are fewer and further between than before.

You'll need to demonstrate your commitment by getting plenty of work experience in order to stand out from the crowd. Developing a range of skills - such as being able to work with video, data and social media - is essential for the modern journalist.

If you opt to go freelance, as many journalists do, be prepared to network at every opportunity, build a portfolio and establish yourself. In the beginning, this will take some time and be a lot of hard work, so you'll need plenty of ambition, drive and perseverance.

It's unclear whether the UK's decision to leave the European Union (EU) will affect the sector significantly. For example the country's relationship with Creative Europe - the EU's creative funding programme, which provided the UK film industry with over €100million of funding from 2007 to 2013 - will be affected.

However, statistics released by the British Film Institute (BFI) in January 2017 revealed that the top three box office hits of 2016 (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and Bridget Jones' Baby) were all made using UK crews, locations and facilities.

The UK had a hand in producing some of 2017's most popular films too, including Dunkirk, Baby Driver, T2 Trainspotting and Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

The report showed that spending on film production in the UK increased 13% compared with 2015 to a record £1.6billion, much of it in the form of inward investment from big US studios - demonstrating what the BFI described as the 'continued high regard held for UK crews, VFX (visual effects) and production services'.

This global reputation, coupled with its consistently strong independent sector, means the UK film industry is still a vibrant and exciting place to work. While the future of the sector is uncertain, it still continues to thrive and provide rewarding careers for passionate, creative-minded individuals.

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