Thursday, March 19, 2015

BBC Trust agrees to kill the distinctiveness of Radio 1

Radio 1. What makes it difference from commercial radio, and - come to that - from streaming stuff over Spotify?

It'd be the live music and the sessions. There's something you can point at and say, there's something that proves the value in having a station like that, funded by licence fee.

The BBC Trust agree.

Except, they don't agree enough to protect that part of the service:

BBC Radio 1 is to make dramatic cuts to its live music output, with the number of sessions by pop and rock bands dropping from 250 to 160 per year.

The station will also reduce the number of live events it covers from 25 to 10.

The BBC Trust has agreed to the changes, despite audience research showing "that live music is seen as a key strength of Radio 1".
"Yes, you're very good at what you do. Play some more records instead, eh, that's cheaper."

The BBC Trust is chaired, you'll recall, by Rona Fairhead, who seems to be bringing the same sure touch she shows at her other job at HSBC to the work she's doing at the BBC.

What else is in the Trust findings? Well...

Radio 1 and 1Xtra's roles supporting musicians and djs with career advice is now mainly going to be picked up BBC Introducing - a change which reflects what's been happening anyway;

Radio 1 and 1Xtra will share more documentaries; 1Xtra's requirement for 20% speech programming has been dropped as a result (although the worry is that 'repeating Radio 1 documentaries' isn't the same sort of thing as creating the crafted speech programmes it has been doing.);

1Xtra can now do dj mixes instead of club nights;

Radio 2 will no longer have to do 'readings' as part of its remit, on the grounds that who knew Radio 2 had to do readings?, but it still "should" do readings. That's clear, yeah?

The need for "regular" comedy programmes on Radio 2 has been watered down to just "comedy programmes";

6Music comes off largely untouched, although the previous target of "15% of concerts and session from archives" is turned into a more easy to track "Broadcast at least 6,500 concert tracks or sessions from the BBC’s music archive each year, with at least 1,150 in daytime". You might wonder why, if the Trust wants to see 6Music using the BBC Archive so widely, it's just signed off on proposals to limit the size at which that archive grows in the same sodding document;

Radio 3 has to do more jazz;

and less drama;

and Asian Network has to provide at least 24 hours of news and current affairs every week. Not clear if this includes sticking Five Live on overnight.

The worst thing in these new rules is that Radio 1 is going to mostly cutback the sessions and live music out of the mainstream; it's a double blow to distinctiveness.

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