A number of radio programmes on Radio 4 and other BBC stations will be made available online up to seven days before broadcast, under plans approved by the BBC Trust.
The plans have been approved as part of the Trust’s service review of Radio 4, 5live, and their digital sister stations Radio 4 Extra and 5live Sports Extra, and apply only to speech radio. The review asked audiences for their views on the stations, with over 5,000 people taking part in a public consultation plus audience research with 2,000 people across the country.
The approval of ‘online premiering’ is in place with immediate effect and while the BBC expects that it will mostly be used by Radio 4, all other BBC radio stations will, except for 5live Sports Extra whose output is entirely live, be able to premiere some speech programmes online first. The approval does not apply to music output.
The service review also found Radio 4 audiences are most likely to describe it as ‘informative’, ‘high quality’, and ‘intelligent’. Radio 4 Extra is appreciated by audiences for programmes they can’t find anywhere else, whilst 5live audiences appreciate its accessible, different and quality news, and its current affairs programming. Its international news coverage of events such as the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris was also praised by listeners.
5live’s sports coverage is praised by audiences, with an average of 3.7 million listeners each week and four out of five listeners rating it as good, although audiences have fallen slightly while there has been a 26% increase in use of BBC sport online. 5live’s role is primarily as a news service and the Trust has asked the BBC to consider the way it positions and promotes the station to reflect this.
BBC Trustee Elan Closs Stephens, who oversaw the Trust’s review, said: “The BBC was built on its radio services, and the continued success of Radio 4 and 5live are testament to the quality of what they continue to provide millions of listeners with every day. As more people go online for news and sport, the BBC must make sure it’s continuing to provide what they want, so we’ve approved some changes to help with this and we’ll expect the stations to continue to develop what they’re offering online.”