The BBC Trust has launched its service review of 5 Live and 5 Live Sports Extra – and commercial rival talkSPORT has already submitted its first evidence to the process.
Owners UTV have produced some research which shows 5 Live listeners think around 38 percent of the station's output is news.
Its current licence remit requires the station's output to comprise 75 percent news.
UTV's research, conducted by BritainThinks earlier this month, polled a thousand people who say they listen to 5 Live for at least an hour a week.
Their main findings are as follows…
[blockquote]- Half (49 percent) of 5 Live listeners agree that it should focus more on serious news
– 5 Live listeners are over five times more likely to associate the station with sport than news (when asked the first word that comes to mind to describe BBC Radio 5 Live, 33 percent said sport, against 6 percent who said news)
– Listeners estimate that only 38 percent of 5 Live airtime is dedicated to news, i.e. around half of its licence requirement of 75percent
– Only half of the total news airtime on 5 Live – or less than 20 percent of overall airtime – is thought by listeners to be ‘serious news’
– Only 20 percent of Richard Bacon listeners define the show as a ‘news programme’, despite the BBC counting the show towards its overall 75 percent news quota
– BBC Radio 5 Live listeners estimate that 45 percent of total airtime is dedicated to sport, of which over two thirds (67 percent) is estimated to be football
– 51 percent of 5 Live listeners believe that it should increase the amount of airtime given to sports that are less often covered by other broadcasters, with only 18 percent disagreeing.
The publication of the research comes a week on from the [link=http://radiotoday.co.uk/news.php?extend.6931]BBC Trust not upholding UTV's complaint[/link] about 5 Live but ruling that it raised 'significant and valid questions' about what constitutes news on 5 Live.
On today's document submitted to the BBC Trust's service review, Scott Taunton, Managing Director of UTV Media (GB), said: "This authoritative piece of BritainThinks research provides overwhelming evidence that 5 Live’s listeners see it as a sport station rather than the news station described in its service licence. The listener anecdotes and celebrity interviews that make up part of 5 Live’s daytime output are not considered news by the overwhelming majority of 5 Live’s audience – despite the BBC classifying them as such when it reports to the BBC Trust."
Mr Taunton also said the data gathered on behalf of his company also showed that there is an appetite among listeners for sports coverage that's not just about Premier League football. He added: "This report reveals some startling statistics, which is why we are today submitting it to the BBC Trust to inform the initial stages of its review. We will of course be making further submissions to the BBC Trust during the consultation period."
The Trust's public consultation began today and will go on until 13th July, seeking views on the quality, distinctiveness and value for money of both 5 Live and 5 Live Sports Extra.
Alison Hastings, lead Trustee on the review, said: "Between them, 5 Live and 5 Live Sports Extra reach nearly 8 million people every week. We want to know how well those listeners – and others with an interest in the two stations – think they’re doing, and how well they’re performing against their service licences. The service reviews we’ve carried out so far have led to increasing quality and distinctiveness across the board."