The BBC Sound Archive

The BBC Sound Archive

An interview with Simon Rooks, BBC Sound Archivist

Simon Rooks, BBC Sound Archivist, explains why recording programmes was originally frowned on and what happened to make attitudes change.


Does the BBC keep copies of all programmes today?

Recording does happen for all programmes now. Programmes exist as recordings, whereas they didn't in the earliest years. But we still don't want to keep 100%. That's for two different reasons. How much we have the resources to manage it properly, to maintain the archive and storage space - even electronic storage space, you still have to pay for that. But also do we really want to keep 100%? Is 100% of the BBC's output archivally important and useful for generations to come? We do aim to keep the shows that have guests on, and certainly those that have live bands that perform on the show. But if it's a presenter just playing commercially available CDs, for example, then there's not much re-use value or commercial value for the BBC in reselling that programme. These days it's about 66% of national radio output that ends up in the archive and is retained.

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