Ofcom imposes content quotas on the BBC
October 13, 2017 11.32 Europe/London By Julian Clover
Ofcom is to strengthen the rules for original UK content on the BBC.
From next year the regulator, whose responsibilities now extend to the corporation, will require at least three quarters (75 per cent) of all programme hours on the BBC’s most popular TV channels to be original productions, commissioned by the BBC for UK audiences – reaching 90 per cent during ‘peak’ evening hours on BBC One and BBC Two.
The main channels will be required to extend their coverage of news & current affairs, science and the arts.
The children’s channels CBBC and CBeebies must respectively show at least 400 and 100 hours of original UK commissioned shows.
Radio 1 and Radio 2 will be required to play a broader range of music than their commercial rivals – a refrain heard at regular intervals of the networks’ 50-year history.
The rules form part of the first licence issued by Ofcom since it became the BBC’s first independent, external regulator in April.
At least half of the network hours will be required to be made outside if London with separate minimum quotas for each UK nation (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) with requirements varying according to the population of the individual region.
In a statement, Ofcom said that the requirements would “raise the bar” on what the BBC is required to deliver, rather than carry over existing quotas.
The conditions have been strengthened following a public consultation.
“All audiences should feel the BBC offers something for them. But Ofcom’s research shows that several groups feel that the BBC doesn’t sufficiently represent their interests or lives,” the regulator said. Last month, a report on Diversity and equal opportunities in television showed that many groups are also under-represented in the BBC’s workforce, and across the industry.
Ofcom therefore wants to be a beacon in achieving 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 majority of the quotas will be brought in on January 1, 2018.