Ofcom rejects Wireless request for BBC radio review

A request by Wireless Group Media to launch a Competition Review on BBC radio stations has been rejected by Ofcom.

On 28 September 2018, Wireless formally requested that Ofcom should initiate a BCR into how the BBC acquires sports rights for BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and Radio 4 long wave. Wireless claimed the BBC’s activities in this area harm competition in the downstream market for commercial sports radio.

Wireless also considered that the BBC’s activities are unfairly harming the ability of its own radio station, talkSPORT2, to procure rights.

The regulator said there are several reasons why it should not exercise its discretion to launch a BBC Competition Review at this time. The main reason being that of the way in which the BBC acquires radio sports rights does not appear to have changed materially since the BBC Charter came into effect in December 2016, and any consumer harm resulting from the way the BBC acquires radio sports rights seems unlikely to be material.

Ofcom said there is limited evidence to suggest talkSPORT’s ability to compete is under threat, saying the station continues to be profitable and narrow the listening reach between it and the BBC.

A Wireless spokesperson told RadioToday: “We believe in consumer choice and, as Ofcom points out, the BBC is the largest player in radio sports rights, with the deepest pockets. The playing field between commercial radio and the BBC has always been uneven and we believe the BBC’s approach to radio sports rights acquisitions should be analysed. We are reviewing Ofcom’s statement and considering our next steps.”

The full report is available here.

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6 Comments
  1. Mark Levy says

    The BBC get away with so much than its commercial rivals, so unfair.

    1. MICHAEL BOLTON says

      and Global don’t get away with a lot?

      1. mb23 says

        This article is about radio sports rights, I don’t think Global hold any now.

        1. Timothy says

          If they’re talking sports rights for TalkSport2 they most definitely do, including a long-term deal for England cricket overseas, which if their recent shambolic coverage of the Sri Lanka is an example of things to come is only to the detriment of cricket fans.

          1. mb23 says

            Although clearly not to your taste, the reviews of their coverage have been very positive (and not just in the Murdoch papers).

  2. Stephen Hall says

    This really was audacious of Murdoch. You decide to launch a new DAB sports station, then complain you don’t have enough sport to go on it?
    TS have proved they can outbid the BBC when they want to but the biggest advantage the BBC has is its ability to reach a bigger percentage of the population. I can get TMS on my TV, long wave or a very stable app whereas Talk *choose* to put the cricket on a DAB-only channel and their app is absolutely horrible.
    They also got exclusive Football League rights, then consigned almost every commentary – including both legs of the Championship play off semi final – to TS2.
    If you want to win, stop carping, be better and put the interests of the listeners first.

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