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  • Writer's pictureDavid Lloyd

In a parallel world - there's a well-run BBC

Updated: Feb 11

A BBC which realises that maybe a defensible shift to a ‘Mood Mums’ target audience for Radio 2 will disadvantage older listeners instantly – so announces at the very same time its plans for an additional new service for the latter.

A BBC which realises that the commercial sector finds it very challenging to sustain local radio stations amidst hugely declining local revenues and unrivalled radio competition – thus builds out and extends its local radio offering.

A BBC which realises it no longer can – or should – ‘serve everyone’, given that over half of all radio listening is already delivered at no cost to the taxpayer by commercial radio – and a third of the population already don’t consume any BBC radio.

A BBC that realises that its job is to provide – as its Charter says – distinctive, quality programming; thus programming that the commercial sector, now thriving and delivering unprecedented choice, need not be duplicated by publicly-funded content.

A joined-up BBC which does not make life ever more difficult for the local radio managers who have to cobble together answers for their staff as to why their stations have been torn apart when Broadcasting House appears to have new pots of cash.

A BBC which realises that its job is not to justify its existing licence fee and model. But to work out what exactly it needs involve itself in amidst a 21st Century media world – and then make a case for the commensurate funding arrangements.

A BBC that concedes that other broadcasters provide public service too; and has a half-decent complaints process.

An efficient BBC without endless layers of squabbling folk doing little – apart from successfully getting in the way of the excellent folk who just want to get on and create great content.

A joined-up BBC which acts in the interests of listeners and viewers and not itself – as befits an organisation paid for by a ‘tax’.

A BBC of which we can be proud.

I write, obviously, as someone who has been involved in setting up a radio station which does many of the things proposed by the Radio 2 spin-off.  Whatever flowery bits they talk about when questioned on the new service, I suspect at Boom Radio, we do many of the things they’ll spend most of their time doing.

And you'd expect me to be a little puzzled that the Corporation sees fit to launch a new service to an older demo where it already reaches two-thirds of human beings in the country, despite local radio changes designed to frighten them off.

The proposal won’t kill Boom Radio – we are confident of continued success and we know our audience is enviably loyal – the most loyal of any UK music radio station listeners. But it will have an impact – and will make our progress slower.  It will likely stop us investing so much in doing good things. That’s no way to run a sensible economy.

Forgive me for feeling peeved for having drawn cash out my own pension to take a huge personal risk on our Boom venture. At the time, in 2021, we sought to satisfy the needs of listeners side-lined by the BBC, by its logical changes at Radio 2 and the perverse local radio changes already underway. We may not have bothered without those BBC changes.

Their ‘offer’ (stab me if I ever use that phrase) does not sound very distinctive to me.

It’s true we don’t have their archive material. We did make enquiries about using some, and paying for it but, as with previous enquiries from other stations about using other content languishing in the Nation’s archive, the conversations were not fruitful.

We do, however, play around three times as many records as they suggest they will, so we can lend them some if they need any. 

You can guess what we’ll say once the consultation begins.

Read Matt Deegan's typically good insight here.

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