Ofcom is proposing to reduce the speech quota for Local BBC Radio breakfast from 100% to 75% as part of shifts being made to the BBC’s licence.
This is part of a series of reports on how it regulates the BBC which were launched today.
It follows a similar move in 2021 on proposed changes that were designed to modernise the BBC’s Operating Licence, for example by reducing the number of quotas in place designed to keep BBC services distinctive.
Ofcom says it wants to safeguard the delivery of news and current affairs on the BBC’s TV and radio services, the distinctiveness of the BBC’s network radio services (music quotas for BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 2; live or specially recorded music for BBC Radio 3 and sports coverage for BBC Radio 5 Live), and regional production on TV and radio.
Ofcom proposes decreasing the breakfast peak time speech quota on local radio from 100% to 75% and making news and current affairs quotas on network radio annual rather than daily or weekly while retaining an obligation on the BBC to make news available regularly throughout the day.
A BBC Spokesperson said: “The BBC’s regulation needs to evolve for the digital age with built-in flexibility so we can continue to serve audiences with impartial news and distinctive UK content in a fast-changing global market, so we welcome Ofcom’s proposals.”
The BBC says it wants to maintain and build on the strength of local radio by focussing resources on parts of the day where it makes the biggest difference with audiences. This will include changes permitted under the new Operating Licencer.
We saw during the pandemic the importance of local radio – especially around the tiering system which was so localised. People need local news and so this must remain at the core of what is offered.
People use radio for different things – if you are looking for music over speech then some of the commercial stations are probably right for you, if you want speech first some of the nationals such as 5Live or LBC are the best fit BUT if you want local news – you simply cannot beat BBC local radio.
Ofcom needs to remember exactly what people want from different stations as part of this consultation.