BBC Radio 1 and 2 'cost commercial broadcasters £50m a year in ad revenue'
Alliance of radio stations tell MPs BBC stations have become too mainstream
An alliance of commercial stations have told the Government's Department for Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) that the BBC's flagship stations have become too mainstream and are neglecting their public service obligations in pursuit of high ratings. This in turn is harming smaller competitors by drawing away their listeners to the BBC's advert-free service.
Radiocentre, the industry body that represents commercial radio stations in the UK, put forward their concerns to a DCMS committee. They said: "The BBC's radio services, particularly Radio 1 and Radio 2, should be more distinctive and take the opportunity to provide greater public value, rather than simply seek large audiences. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that much of the BBC's growth in listening share in recent years has come at the direct expense of the commercial sector."
In October, audience figures provided by Rajar showed Radio 2 continued to have the UK's biggest audience with 14.94m listeners each week, with Chris Evans' breakfast show the most-listened to on the station, while Radio 1, where Nick Grimshaw's breakfast show is the most popular, has almost 11 million weekly listeners.
Last month, Radio 2 were forced to scale back planned coverage of Gary Barlow's latest album 'Since I Saw You Last' after Radiocentre warned the extensive coverage risked breaching BBC guidelines on 'unfairly promoting any commercial organisations'.
The commercial stations argue that the BBC should use its licence fee funding to promote new artists, make specialist programmes and cater for audiences that would not otherwise be properly served by the rest of the market. A spokesperson for the BBC said: "Research shows that not only is there strong public support for the BBC showing a wide range of content and funded by the licence fee, but also that in countries where public service broadcasting is strong, commercial broadcasting is also strong."