The BBC’s new Operating Licence from Ofcom will see extra peak-time news on Radio 2 and more social action campaigns on Radio 1 when it comes into effect on 1 January 2018.
Ofcom will be requiring Radio 1 to offer a minimum number of major social action campaigns each year. The regulator says raising awareness of social issues among younger people and providing a platform on which to engage is one of the key ways Radio 1 can set itself apart from other radio stations.
BBC Radio 2 will be required, for the first time, to air at least three hours of news and current affairs in peak time per week, and Radio 1 to broadcast an extended news bulletin in peak time each weekday. There will also be new requirements on Radio 1 and Radio 2 to play a broader range of music than commercial stations, and more music from new and emerging UK artists.
But the Final version of the Licence has failed to include radio quotas for genres such as drama and comedy.
RIG and other organisations had earlier expressed concern that these quotas, put in place by the BBC Trust under the previous regulatory system, had been left out in the draft version of the new Licence. RIG Vice-Chair Caroline Raphael said: “We are disappointed that Ofcom hasn’t listened to us, or organisations representing the listeners and writers, in terms of recognising the importance of these safeguards. In the light of forthcoming BBC cuts, we are concerned that these crucial genres may now be reduced, leading to fewer opportunities for programme makers, writers and performers to make great radio and less choice for listeners.”
The Radio Independents Group will now be pressing Ofcom to monitor and review the situation within a defined period of time, with the backstop being a reintroduction of quotas if production in key BBC Radio genres is significantly reduced.