Britain’s youth is driving a ‘radical shift in media consumption’ away from TV, radio and newspapers and onto the web, according to industry regulator Ofcom.

Ofcom’s Communications Market Report for 2005 shows declining interest in TV among 16-24 year olds, who watched one hour of TV less per day than the average viewer last year.

Fifty eight per cent of the time they did spend watching TV was spent viewing public service broadcasting channels, down from 74% in 2001.

Fifteen to 24 years olds’ radio consumption was also 15 minutes per day lower than the wider population; while 27% of those surveyed said they read newspapers less as a consequence of their online usage.

The report said the age group is spurning traditional media in favour of online services , including downloadable content – used on multiple devices such as iPods and mobile phones – and participation in online communities.

More than 70% of 16-24 year old internet users used social networking websites, compared to 41% of all UK internet users, while 37% of 18-24 year olds have contributed to a blog or message board, compared to 14% of all UK internet users.

The same group also uses mobile phones extensively, on average making seven more calls and sending 42 more texts per week than the wider UK population.

Ed Richards, Ofcom’s COO, said: “The sector is being transformed by greater competition, falling prices and the erosion of traditional revenues and audiences. A new generation of consumers is emerging for whom online is the lead medium and convergence is instinctive.”

The report also said online advertising continued to grow in importance as a mass marketing medium, with online ad revenues increasing eight-fold between 2001 and 2005 (from £0.17 billion to £1.3 billion per year).

Ofcom said online advertising revenue is now almost three times greater than radio advertising revenue (at around £0.5 billion, unchanged since 2001 in real terms) and over one-third that of television advertising revenue (£3.8 billion in 2005, up from £3.5 billion in 2001).