The BBC is to set up a working group to look at how BBC Radio can work better with independent producers out of London.
The announcement was made during the annual Nations & Regions Media Conference taking place at the Lowry in Salford.
BBC Radio currently has 19 per cent of its eligible radio hours provided by independent production companies. Programmes provided by the sector include Radio 4’s Kitchen Cabinet, 6 Music’s Radcliffe & Maconie Show from Salford, and Radio 3’s daily Essential Classics strand.
The BBC trust has set a quota of 10 per cent of BBC Radio network hours which must be provided by indies. In addition, another 10 per cent of hours are competed for between in-house and independents (the WOOC).
Under proposals for the new charter period, BBC Radio has proposed opening up to 60 per cent of hours to competition between in-house producers and independents.
Helen Boaden, Director of BBC Radio, said: “I am really passionate about supporting independent producers and it is clear there is a strong desire on their part to work with the BBC. This new working group will help create more opportunities for this to happen in the future.
“It is important that we continue to produce the best radio content we can, reflecting the nations, regions and communities of the UK, and in order to do this we should try to open up as much of the schedule as possible to competition from independents, as well as developing our already successful in-house production teams.
“It is not something that will happen overnight; it is a work in progress, but ultimately will result in good ideas becoming a reality no matter who they originate from.”
Ashley Byrne, Chair of the Radio Independents Groups’ Nations & Regions Committee, said: “I’m very pleased that the BBC is looking to take this forward with RIG, to work towards a nations and regions commissioning structure that really delivers for licence fee payers around the UK.”
The working party is due to meet for the first time early in the New Year.