Indies want statutory 25% of BBC radio
Leading radio production companies have called on the BBC to introduce a statutory 25% quota of value of programme making for radio in the corporation’s next charter in 2017.
Speaking at the Radio Festival in Salford, the CEO of Somethin’ Else Jez Nelson – who’s also a board member on the Radio Independents Group – set out RIG’s position on BBC Radio and how it could grow the relationship with indies.
As well as the quota, he also called for the BBC’s Window of Creative Competition to be expanded to cover 25% of the value of contracts issued.
At the moment, the BBC’s agreement with DCMS is for the BBC to commission a ‘suitable proportion’ of its radio programming from indie producers, which the BBC has set at 10%. In 2010, the BBC Trust also required as part of its radio network supply review for the BBC to introduce a 10% Window of Creative Competition (WoCC) where indies would compete directly with BBC in‐house producers for commissions. In 2012‐13 indies won 80% of WoCC hours, in 2013‐14 they won 75% of hours.
On BBC Director General Tony Hall’s ‘compete or compare’ strategy outlined last year, Jez Nelson said: “It recognises that although there are of course big differences between these platforms and sectors there are also many similarities and a great deal of crossover.”
Nelson said current radio commissioning was too low at a maximum of 20% of hours, but also that using hours as a measurement tool means that indies are ending up with a disproportionate of low‐value commissions. “Although the BBC has opened up new areas of the schedule for competition ‐ looking to commission the best ideas regardless of source ‐ it has done this in a way that legislates that the smallest number of people are exposed to those winning ideas. That can’t make sense,” he said.
“We believe competition is in the best interests of the audience who are paying for the service ‐ limiting that competition is wrong,” he added.
Nelson stressed that RIG supported the BBC and the continuation of the Licence Fee. He pointed out the importance of BBC Radio services, and called for protection of radio budgets, saying: “In our view BBC Radio has suffered disproportionately from DQF because of its relatively low funding compared to TV. We believe the BBC Radio budget should be ring‐fenced and not simply cut in accordance with any uniform cuts implemented in the future”
Speaking after the speech, Jez Nelson told RadioToday: “As a growing creative industry, doing business with commercial radio and others in the UK and overseas, as well as the BBC, we were keen to place on record some of the other factors we think point towards the need for the BBC to be just as radical in radio as they’re being in TV – in a world where there is increasing crossover between different types of content, radio shouldn’t be left behind while TV heads into a new era.”