The BBC Trust is set to hold a wide-ranging review of the BBC’s content supply arrangements for both radio and television.
The Trust says it’s broadening the scope of a scheduled review of television production, to conduct a wider review of “the market for radio, television and online production, the BBC’s current position in those markets and the options for future changes to the way that the BBC is structured and regulated in this area”.
Currently, for radio, at least ten per cent of hours must be commissioned from independent suppliers, with a further ten per cent open to competition between the BBC and independent sector. Figures published last month in the BBC’s annual report showed indies winning 75% of the competitive hours.
The Trust says its review, which will start in the autumn, will now look at five areas:
- The performance so far of the BBC’s content supply arrangements
- The performance of network and non-network supply arrangements in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions
- Changes in BBC in-house production, in the position of the BBC as a buyer of content and in the market since 2007
- The longer term implications of changes in the market for the BBC’s content supply strategy
- Changes to the BBC’s approach to content supply proposed by the BBC Executive and their impact on quotas and targets.
In a speech at City University last month, the Director-General, Tony Hall, set out a radical plan – headlined “Compete and Compare” – for the opening up of BBC content supply to more competition. On radio, he asked: “Can we extend competitive access for independent producers in radio, if that will mean broader choice and better ideas?”
Will Jackson from the Radio Independents Group, which represents indie radio producers told RadioToday: “We’re pleased that the Trust will now be including radio in its review. RIG’s answer to the question posed by Tony Hall is a resounding ‘yes’. There’s a fast-growing market outside the BBC for audio-based content, and we believe the BBC’s role is to make sure it is taking advantage of this, to use these production companies to compete with in-house producers to make more BBC radio content.”
Work on the review will start in October with a public and industry consultation; the Trust’s final report is expected in the middle of next year.