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UTV want 5 Live review too

UTV Media – owners of talkSPORT – say they want 5 Live to be included in a cost-efficiency review of BBC networks.

Former commercial radio boss John Myers is to go into Radios 1, 2, 1Xtra and 6 Music next month as a consultant to look for efficiency savings at the pop stations.

The study follows a report by the National Audit Office in 2009, which found that the BBC is not making full use of opportunities to increase the value for money it is achieving in radio production. The National Audit Office recommended that the BBC undertake 'systematic analysis of the costs and performance of the most expensive programmes' across its radio stations, identifying opportunities to make further efficiency savings.

UTV say the BBC's decision to focus its subsequent efficiency study on pop music stations contradicts its own financial data (see below) which shows that its highest radio costs are in speech programming. 5 Live has a significantly higher programming budget than either Radio 1 or Radio 2, and the second highest programming budget in UK radio after Radio 4. 5 Live's 'cost per user hour' – a key measure of BBC efficiency – is four times higher than for either Radio 1 or Radio 2, according to the BBC's [link=http://www.bbc.co.uk/annualreport]Annual Report[/link].

Scott Taunton, UTV Media Managing Director, said: "The BBC has made a great choice in asking John Myers to identify efficiency opportunities at its radio stations. But the remit they have given him is much too narrow. It contradicts recent recommendations by the National Audit Office, and suggests a reluctance by BBC management to bring the overall radio budget under control. Rather than focusing on their cheaper pop stations, the BBC should seek efficiency opportunities right across their portfolio."

He added: "5 Live's production budget is around five times higher than talkSPORT's per user hour, even though the BBC station delivers higher weekly listening hours. With his broad experience in both music and speech radio, John is the ideal person to investigate why this is the case, and to identify areas of unnecessary expenditure. The growing popularity and success of talkSPORT's own national offering suggests that 5 Live is spending far more than it needs to. Worse, 5 Live is using licence fee cash to duplicate a sports radio offering which can be provided by the commercial sector at no cost to licence fee payers."

Here are those costs in full.

[b]Radio 1[/b]
Content costs = £32.2m
Total budget = £43.8m
Cost per user hour = 0.6 pence

[b]Radio 2[/b]
Content costs = £40.4m
Total budget = £52.5m
Cost per user hour = 0.5 pence

[b]Radio 3[/b]
Content costs = £40.8m
Total budget = £54m
Cost per user hour = 6.3 pence

[b]Radio 4[/b]
Content costs = £86.7m
Total budget = £112m
Cost per user hour = 1.3 pence

[b]5 Live[/b]
Content costs = £55m
Total budget = £72m
Cost per user hour = 2.3 pence

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