The BBC’s music radio stations are distinct from the commercial sector, are viewed as high quality, and represent good value for money, the BBC Trust has found.
BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra, Radio 2, Radio 3, 6 Music and Asian Network also perform a vital role in the development and promotion of UK music.
However, the Trust says Radio 2 should address the disparity in reach among black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) listeners and all BBC stations should engage on a regular basis with the UK music sector and commercial radio.
BBC Radio 1 should share more documentaries with 1Xtra, and Radio 3 should cut back on its dramas.
Analysis of the music played on each of the six BBC music radio stations found that they play a wider range of tracks and genres than is available elsewhere on radio. Overlap of the music played on BBC music radio and commercial stations was also found to be low.
The Trust’s report has highlighted 11 action points which it is asking the BBC to take forward as a result of this review. In summary these include:
Future focus – BBC radio should continue to develop its online strategy and should engage on a regular basis with the UK music sector and commercial radio. As the current definition of ‘new’ music is becoming invalid, the BBC should work with the music industry to find a more appropriate way to define new music on BBC radio.
Output – Radio 1 should find more ways to deliver a range of public purposes in its daytime programming. Radio 3 should maximise its distinctiveness by minimising similarities with other stations.
Audiences – Radio 1 should remain focused on serving a young audience and Radio 2 should address the disparity in reach among black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) listeners.
Service licence changes – In order to enable savings, the number of live sessions on Radio 1 is being reduced, Radio 1 and 1Xtra will increase the number of documentaries shared between the stations, and the number of dramas on Radio 3 will reduce. Asian Network’s news and current affairs output will now be safeguarded through a service licence commitment to broadcast at least 24 hours of news and current affairs per week.
BBC Trustee Nick Prettejohn who jointly led the review said: “Our review’s findings make for positive reading. The BBC’s six music radio stations are doing well and are seen as go-to services for millions of UK listeners on a quest to discover and be entertained by music.
“The six stations are distinctive from commercial radio through the music that they play, their speech programming, and their support of the UK music sector, something made possible by the unique privilege of the licence fee.
“The BBC imparts an incredibly important function to the musical fabric of this country. It must continue to balance its culturally supportive role with awareness of its market impact, particularly as it now looks to its future online strategy.”
In response, RadioCentre Chief Executive Siobhan Kenny said: “This report provides plenty of food for thought for the BBC, with a helpful emphasis on keeping its music radio services highly distinctive from commercial radio.
“Too much of the daytime schedules of Radio 1 and Radio 2 are filled with mainstream music and speech. Efforts to address this, for example by requiring Radio 1 to be more ambitious in its speech output, are welcome. I look forward to seeing how such commitments will be implemented in practice and am happy to work with the BBC in the manner suggested by the Trust, to ensure that BBC radio provides something genuinely different for listeners.”
The cost of the review as of publication today is £76,867.