BBC Radio 1 must slash live music coverage

BBC Radio 1’s coverage of live music will be significantly reduced after the BBC Trust enforced new cost-cutting measures on the station.

Radio 1, the UK’s third most popular station, previously committed to broadcasting from 25 live music events every year. The Trust has now reduced that figure to 10 and made a potentially important change to the wording in Radio 1’s mandate.

This no longer appears to necessarily be live broadcast, but rather ‘coverage of at least 10 festivals and significant live events in the UK and abroad each year’.

And there’s further cuts coming for live performances on the station. Radio 1 previously committed to provide 250 live sessions every year – and broadcast 257 in 2013-2014.

But now the Trust has told the station it needs to cut that number to 160.

Both measures are an attempt to bring down the expenditure of Radio 1, which spent more than its Service Licence guidelines from the Trust last year as you can see below.

The Trust said the reduction in live performances was ‘in line with the overall BBC strategy of focusing spend on the most listened-to programmes in daytime and gaining most impact from expensive output’.

The BBC agreed a new strategy, Delivering Quality First (DQF), in 2012, which included efficiency savings and cuts to the scope of its services. BBC Radio was set a savings target of £35.5m as part of this.

By March 2014, two years into its savings programme, BBC Radio had saved £16.3m – leaving it a further £19.2m to achieve by next year.

The Trust noted industry concerns over Radio 1’s output and recommended regular meetings with UK business reps.

It said: “Some representatives of the music industry, including from record labels, feel that targeting stations by age is not helpful,as musical tastes spread across age groups… BPI states it is extremely important that BBC is careful that there is not a gap between the young demographic where Radio 1 is targeted and older listeners targeted by Radio 2.”

The Trust noted that Radio 1 plays a slightly smaller proportion of UK music than some commercial stations, but the amount of new UK music is higher.

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