BBC faces backlash after announcing new “spin-off” radio stations

today13/02/2024 4

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The BBC has announced that it plans to launch four new spin-off radio stations as digital extensions to its Radio 1, 2, and 3.

These four new stations – which are currently not named – will be broadcasted via DAB+ and BBC Sounds and plan to provide a deep dive into the related music genres of each station.

In a statement released by the BBC, it explains that the Radio 1 spin-off station is planned to play music from between the 2000s and 2010s giving air time to “lesser-heard gems”.

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For BBC Radio 2, the new extension is set to “bring heritage artist catalogues and stories to life in a much deeper and more richly textured manner than the main mixed-genre Radio 2 schedule can allow”.

And for BBC Radio 3, it will continue to broadcast classical music and offer a “calming music experience”.

The final extension will see Radio 1 Dance expand across from BBC Sounds to DAB+ (digital radio) which it claims will support the “development of new UK artists” by “reflecting the scene to a wider audience”.

The BBC statement explains: “The extensions build on the BBC’s commitment to new music and British artists by showcasing the BBC’s high-quality on-demand music programmes for more audiences to discover, alongside new commissions fronted by emerging talent and the BBC’s much-loved expert presenters. They will also surface content from the BBC’s rich archive that has captured the story of British music over the past six decades.”

However, the plans have received backlash from the commercial radio sector as the new services are said to “directly imitate” existing services.

Radio stations such as Absolute, Smooth, Virgin and Heart currently have stations focusing on specific genres or decades.

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Radiocentre – which represents some of these commercial stations – has claimed that Ofcom should reject these “proposed market interventions that would just offer duplicate services and not deliver against the BBC’s obligations, at the same time as harming commercial innovation”.

The statement from a Radiocentre spokesperson said: “We would like to know where the money is coming from to fund these new services. The BBC often say that they need more funding to sustain current services and that they have already cut costs to the bone – including recently cutting back news and local radio funding.”

According to The Financial Times Ofcom has said: “We are aware of the BBC’s plans to make changes to its audio services. At this early stage, it’s for the BBC to consider the impact of these changes on competition, and we expect it to engage with industry stakeholders as part of this process.”

In October 2022, the BBC announced plans that it would scrap a number of BBC local radio provisions including many African, Caribbean and Asian shows.

For the extensions to go forth, a public consultation about the launch of the four stations – including a Public Interest Test (PIT) – will take place in the coming weeks.

Read the full statement from the BBC here.

Becky Buckle is Mixmag’s Multimedia Editor, follow her on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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