Thursday, March 10, 2011

Big bad idea

Very few of the changes that will happen in the BBC will come as a result of ideas from staff.  Somebody is working on a financial strategy that will be imposed, top down.   And, from tweets I'm picking up, it may be that the very un-radio-friendly head of strategy, John Tate, is still part of that team.

It was John and his strategists who offered up both 6Music (saved) and the Asian Network (growing quietly, but effectively in limbo).   Now someone is "floating" some sort of merger between the rump of BBC Local Radio in England, and 5Live.  5Live would abandon its medium wave frequencies of 909 and 693, but still be heard uninterrupted on DAB, cable and satellite.  Local radio stations would mount only breakfast and drive time shows on their FM transmitters, and carry 5Live at all other times - perhaps with some weekend sport opt-outs.

If this is a float (like the News-Channel-On-BBC2 daytime offer) to demonstrate they're prepared to consider radical stuff, then somebody warn them off. If it's a serious float, it needs sinking fast.   Both services lose.  The local radio audience is old, tending downmarket.  5Live is fighting to stay younger than Radio 4.  You save electricity at the transmitters, but very little else in terms of staff and accommodation.  If this is the creative stuff coming out of Delivering Quality First, I'd be very surprised.

  • Saturday update: Read the BBC response on the "in-house" staff website, Ariel: "Just an idea".  There's also a lively debate on this Digital Spy Forum.   There are two, passionate posts from Emma Gilliam worth reading here, and an intelligent view from Adam Bowie here


  1. I hear that the BBC are selling off BBC Radio Cambridgeshire to GMG to become Real Radio Cambridgeshire.

    Shocking... but true!

  2. Let's just say that, without naming names, it's a secret in radio this; I'm a former employee of the radio biz, now working in (of all places) a major chain store. Heh... looks bad for Auntie Beeb.

  3. The BBC is (for most) the only option they have for local radio. I listen to Radio Devon and Radio Bristol - both stations are of good quality programme wise, I am not a sport fan, so would I listen to Radio 5 Live?..... no!

    Yes network the local BBC stations like is done after 7pm between say 12 and 3, but please lets keep local programming at all other times on the local BBC stations

  4. I listen to BBC MW for local news sometimes. I find the programming poor,and never seems to be more than a few minutes away from a football conversation. Not being a football fan I am not in the slightest interested and I normally re tune to Radio 2 or, for conversation, LBC, even though it's London centric.
    There are HUGE opportunities for BBC local radio to improve

  5. CAW, you'd be surprised if you heard the BBC were planning to sell off BBC Radio Cambridgeshire to become Real Radio - GMG may be buying it soon enough, it's only a matter of time.

  6. I live in Doncaster, a town poorly served by local radio and I can't understand why here in Yorkshire we can't listen to something like the 'Yorkshire News Network' based on LBC, which I listen to online and is excellent.


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