BBC must air more UK-made programmes and invest in regions

Stephen Chapman's picture
by Stephen Chapman

Ofcom says that that the BBC must air more British-made programmes, including during peak time.

The regulator has also ordered the BBC to spend the same on programmes per head in every nation.

New quotas have been developed across children’s, arts, music and comedy, so the BBC will offer “high-quality, distinctive programmes for its entire audience.”

From 2018, 75% of all programme hours on BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Four must be original productions, commissioned by the BBC for UK audiences. This should rise to 90% during peak evening times on BBC One and BBC Two - effectively closing the door on international imports and repeats at peak.

CBBC musth show at least 400 hours of brand new, UK-commissioned programmes each year. For CBeebies, that’s 100 hours.

Ofcom has also set out requirements for Radio 2 and Radio 2 to play a “broader range of music than commercial stations, and more music from new and emerging UK artists.”

It’s part of a plan to create a "BBC for the whole UK” and it forms the BBC’s new operating licence - the first since Ofcom became its regulator.

Regionally at least half of all network hours on television will be made outside of London. Ofcom said it was also reviewing guidance on regional programme-making to ensure that it “strengthens production in the UK’s nations and regions.”

BBC One and BBC Two must, between them, air more than 6000 hours of programmes, which are “of specific interest to the nations and regions” and 95% of these must be made in the areas they’re about.

Ofcom will also tackle diversity, meaning the BBC will be publicly accountable for achieving its workforce diversity targets. These include 15% of staff to be from ethnic minority groups, and 50% of all staff and leadership roles to be held by women by 2020.

“The BBC is the cornerstone of UK broadcasting. But we think it can do more to provide quality, distinctive programmes that reflect the interests and lives of people across the UK,” stated Kevin Bakhurst, Ofcom content and media policy director.

“Our rules will ensure the BBC focuses on original UK content, and invests in vital areas such as children’s programmes, music, arts and religion.”

Most of the new conditions will come into effect on January 1st, 2018.

This afternoon, a BBC spokesperson said:

"These are a tough and challenging set of requirements which rightly demand a distinctive BBC which serves and represents all audiences throughout the whole UK. We will now get on with meeting these requirements and continuing to provide the world-class, creative BBC the public wants."