Sunday, 2 April 2017

SUMMARY OF DRAFT BBC OPERATING LICENCE - RADIO

The BBC Trust is dead. April 3rd 2017 sees Ofcom become the BBC's first external regulator.  Accordingly, Ofcom’s developing an 'Operating Framework' for the BBC, covering regulation of the BBC’s performance, compliance with content standards and impact on competition.

The BBC is required to ensure its portfolio of radio stations offer “the broadest variety of output and that the range of musical output on its popular radio services is broader than that of comparable providers”.

Below is a summary of key points relating to radio of the draft new operating licence, and, in italics, a summary of the relevant parts of the old service licence. Neither is exhaustive.

As Ofcom says: “Regulatory conditions previously set by the Trust that deliver this were maintained and increased where appropriate. Other Trust targets were not retained. Where appropriate, new conditions have been set to ensure delivery of these aims”.

This speedy summary is not exhaustive and offers no comment within. I do observe, however, that the proposals appear less specific about target audiences, although there are over-arching responsibilities to serve all. Radio 1 goes from the former ‘15-29 year olds…and younger teens’ requirement to simply ‘young audiences’ and there appears to be nothing to suggest that BBC local radio retains its 50+ focus. BBC local stations may also share output with ‘neighbouring stations’, without limit.

The closing date for responses to the consultation is 17 July.


Radio 1

Principally a popular music services aimed at young audiences, with a commitment to the best new music, but also containing significant speech output

The time allocated to news during Daytime each weekday is not less than one hour and includes at least two extended bulletins, of which at least one must be in Peak Listening Time; and it provides regular bulletins during Daytime at weekends.

The BBC must ensure that in each Year the number of first-run documentaries is not less than 40. For the purpose of this requirement “first-run documentaries” includes documentaries which have been first broadcast on 1Xtra.

In each Year at least 45% of the music in Daytime is from UK acts and at least 50% of the music in Daytime is New Music, of which a significant proportion must come from new and emerging UK artists;

In each week it broadcasts at least 60 hours of Specialist Music; and

In each Year it broadcasts at least 175 new sessions (excluding repeats) that have been recorded within the previous month; and the station plays a broader range of music than comparable providers, taking into account both the number of plays and the size of the playlist, at both Peak Listening Time and Daytime.


Former service licence

Target audience is 15-29 year olds and it should also provide some programming for younger teenagers.

Broadcast at least 1 hour of news during daytime each weekday, including two extended bulletins

Provide regular bulletins during daytime at weekends

At least 60 hours of specialist music each week

At least 40% of the music in daytime is from UK acts each year

At least 45% of the music in daytime is new each year, with continuous particular support for new and emerging UK artists alongside established acts

Feature coverage of at least 10 festivals and significant live events8 in the UK and abroad each year

At least 160 new sessions each year

Contribute to BBC Radio’s commitment to commission at least 10% of eligible hours of output from independent producers

Broadcast at least 40 new documentaries each year

Offer at least 2 major Social Action campaigns, supported across daytime output and online each year, together with a number of other initiatives


1Xtra

A service of contemporary black music, with a focus on new and live music, alongside significant speech output for young audiences

The time allocated to news during Daytime each weekday is not less than one hour and includes at least two extended bulletins; and it provides regular bulletins during Daytime at weekends.

The BBC must ensure that in each Year the number of documentaries is not less than 40. 
For the purpose of this requirement, “documentaries” includes repeats.


Former service licence

At least 60% of the music played on the station in daytime is new each year

Ensure that at least 35% of all music played in daytime is from the UK each year

Contribute to BBC Radio’s commitment to commission at least 10% of eligible hours of output from independent producers

Broadcast at least 1 hour of news during daytime each weekday, including two extended bulletins

Provide regular bulletins in daytime at weekends
Broadcast at least 40 documentaries each year

Radio 2

A service providing a broad range of popular and specialist music and speech output including news, current affairs and factual programming

The BBC must ensure that the time allocated to news and current affairs programming each week is not less than 17 hours, of which not less than 3 hours must be in Peak Listening Time; and it provides regular news bulletins.

The BBC must ensure that in each year: the time allocated to arts programming is not less than 100 hours. For the purpose of this requirement, “arts programming” includes repeats;  the time allocated to documentaries is not less than 130 hours. For the purpose of this requirement, “documentaries” does not include repeats; and the time allocated to religious output is not less than 170 hours, and that the output covers a broad range of faiths. For the purpose of this requirement, “religious output” includes repeats.

In each Year at least 40% of the music in Daytime is from United Kingdom acts; and at least 20% of the music in Daytime is New Music, of which a significant proportion must come from new and emerging United Kingdom artists;

In each Year it broadcasts at least 260 hours of live music;

In each Year it broadcasts at least 1100 hours of special music programmes; and

The station plays a broader range of music than comparable providers, taking into account both the number of plays and the size of the playlist, at both Peak Listening Time and Daytime.


 Former service licence

Ensure that at least 40% of the music in daytime is from UK acts each year

Ensure that at least 20% of the music in daytime is new each year

Broadcast at least 260 hours of live music each year

Broadcast a broader range of music than any other major UK radio station with over 1,100 hours of specialist music programmes each year

Broadcast over 100 hours of arts programming each year

Contribute to BBC Radio’s commitment to commission at least 10% of eligible hours of output from independent producers

Broadcast at least 16 hours of news and current affairs programming each week, including regular news bulletins

Broadcast at least 130 hours of documentaries each year

Broadcast at least 170 hours of religious output 14 each year covering a broad range of faiths


Radio 3

A service centred on classical music, alongside other music and art forms and speech output, and with a strong focus on live and specially recorded music

The BBC must ensure that it provides news at intervals throughout the day.

The BBC must ensure that in each Year: at least 45% of the station’s music output consists of live or specially recorded music; it broadcasts at least 440 live or specially recorded performances; it commissions at least 25 new musical works (excluding repeats); and it broadcasts at least 35 new documentaries on arts and cultural topics (excluding repeats).

 Former service licence

Ensure that at least 40% of the station’s music output will consist of live or specially recorded music each year

Broadcast at least 400 live or specially recorded performances each yearCommission at least 20 new musical works each year

Broadcast at least 20 new drama productions each year

Contribute to BBC Radio’s commitment to commission at least 10% of eligible programmes from independent producers

Broadcast at least 30 new documentaries on arts and cultural topics each year

Ensure that at least 40% of relevant spend is incurred outside the M25 area each year

Radio 4

A speech-based service including news, current affairs, factual programmes, drama, readings and comedy

BBC must ensure that the time allocated to news and current affair programmes (including repeats) in each Year is not less than 2,750 hours; and it provides daily reports of Parliamentary proceedings when Parliament is sitting.

The BBC must ensure that in each Year: the time allocated to original documentaries (excluding repeats) covering a range of different subjects is not less than 375 hours; and the time allocated to original religious programming (excluding repeats) is not less than 200 hours.

In respect of BBC 6 Music, the BBC must ensure that the time allocated to speech-based features, documentaries and essays each week is not less than 10 hours on average across each Year.

 Former service licence

Broadcast at least 2,500 hours of news and current affairs programmes each year

Broadcast at least 600 hours of original drama and readings each year

Broadcast at least 180 hours of original comedy each year

Contribute to BBC Radio’s commitment to commission at least 10% of eligible hours of output from independent producersBroadcast at least 350 hours of original documentaries each year

Broadcast at least 200 hours of original religious programming each year



4 Extra

A speech-based service offering comedy, drama and readings, mainly from the BBC archive


5 Live

24-hour coverage of news and sport

The BBC must ensure that in each Year the proportion of its output that is news and current affairs programming is not less than 75%; and there is extensive coverage of local and general elections, and of elections to the United Kingdom’s devolved chambers, as well as regular coverage of European and international politics.

The BBC must ensure that in each Year live commentary, news and other programming is offered on at least 20 sports.


Former service licence

News and current affairs programming represents around three-quarters of output each year

Contribute to BBC Radio’s commitment to commission at least 10% of eligible hours of output from independent producers

BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

A part-time extension to BBC Radio 5 live providing additional live coverage of sporting events

6 Music

A service of popular music outside the current mainstream, together with speech output which provides context for that music

The BBC must ensure that the time allocated to news in each week is not less than 6 hours.

Contribute to BBC Radio’s commitment to commission at least 10% of eligible hours of output from independent producers


Former Service licence

Ensure that no more than 30% of all music played each year is new

Broadcast at least 400 hours of archive concert performances each year

Broadcast at least 6,500 concert tracks or sessions from the BBC’s music archive each year, with at least 1,150 in daytime

Broadcast at least 300 new sessions  each year

Feature at least 10 hours a week of speech-based features, documentaries and essays on average across the year

Broadcast at least 6 hours of news each week

BBC Local

In each Year, Speech content is on average at least 60% in Core Hours; and  100% at the Breakfast Peak.  (also Scotland, nan Gàidheal, Wales, Cymru, Ulster, Foyle)
“Core Hours” means 06:00 to 19:00 on Mondays to Fridays, and “Breakfast Peak” means 07:00 to 08:30 on Mondays to Fridays.

BBC must ensure that service provides news and information of particular relevance to the area and communities it serves at intervals throughout the day; and it provides other content of particular relevance to the area and communities it serves. 

The BBC must ensure that in each week the time allocated on each BBC Local Radio station to original, locally-made programming is not less than 95 hours (Guernsey 80, Jersey 80, Somerset, 70). For the purpose of this requirement, “original, locally-made programming” includes programming shared with neighbouring stations broadcast between 06:00 and 19:00.


Former service licence

The target audience should be listeners aged 50 and over, who are not well-served elsewhere, although the service may appeal to all those interested in local issues. 

There should be a strong emphasis on interactivity and audience involvement.

Broadcast an average of at least 60% speech content in core hours and 100% at the breakfast peak each year

Broadcast at least 85 hours of original, locally-made programming each weekMusic output should be mainstream in peaktime and include specialist in off-peak hours. 

Specialist music should be appropriate to the area. Current and recent chart hits should represent no more than 15% of weekly music output

BBC Local Radio should contribute to this purpose amongst its audience. It should provide opportunities for new and emerging musicians from the local area and support local arts and music events by providing event information.


Others (highlights only)

BBC Radio Scotland, the BBC must ensure that in each week the time allocated to news and current affairs (including repeats) is not less than 50 hours; it provides several regional opt-outs each weekday, offering news, sport and information, and some regional opt-out community programming in the evenings; and it provides content and music of particular relevance to Scotland.

BBC Radio nan Gàidheal, the BBC must ensure that it includes news frequently across the day, particularly between 07:00 to 08:30 and 16:00 to 19:00 on Mondays to Fridays and 07:00 to 11:00 on Saturdays and Sundays; and it provides content and music of particular relevance to Scotland.

BBC Radio Wales, the BBC must ensure that in each week the time allocated to news and current affairs (including repeats and acquisitions) is not less than 32 hours; and it provides content and music of particular relevance to Wales.

In respect of BBC Radio Cymru, the BBC must ensure that in each week the time allocated to news and current affairs (including repeats) is not less than 23 hours; and it provides content and music of particular relevance to Wales

BBC Asian Network, the BBC must ensure that the time allocated to news and current affairs programming each week is not less than 24 hours.

 Programme-making in the nations and regions:

The BBC must ensure that in each Year at least one third of relevant Expenditure is incurred outside the M25 area. “Relevant Expenditure” includes Expenditure on first-run originated programming, but does not include Expenditure on news or sport output. For the purpose of this requirement, “first-run originated programming” means programming which is commissioned by or for a UK Public Radio Service and has not previously been broadcast on a radio service in the United Kingdom.

In meeting the requirement, the BBC must ensure that some of the relevant Expenditure is incurred in respect of Radio 1; Radio 2; Radio 3; Radio 4; and BBC Radio 5 live.

In respect of Radio 3, the BBC must ensure that in each Year at least 40% of relevant Expenditure is incurred outside the M25 area. For the purpose of this requirement “relevant Expenditure” includes Expenditure on first-run originated programming and Radio 3’s allocation of the central orchestras’ subsidy but does not include Expenditure on news or sport output.

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