Service review of BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Radio 5 live sports extra


The Trust sets out what it expects of each service in a service licence.

Our review had three aims: to assess how well Radio 5 live and 5 live sports extra are performing against their service licences; to consider the stations' future direction; and to determine whether amendments to the licences are required.

We carried out a public consultation during summer 2011 and received around 9,500 responses from licence fee payers. We also received a number of responses from the radio industry, other organisations and the Trust's Audience Councils, and we commissioned bespoke audience research to inform our conclusions. The supporting evidence for this review can be found here.

Conclusions and findings

Our review has found that BBC Radio 5 live and 5 live sports extra are performing well and both help to deliver the BBC's public purposes to a sizeable audience.

Radio 5 live

5 live is greatly valued by listeners who appreciate its unique and accessible mix of news and sports programming.

News is the core of the station and audiences perceive the station's news programming to be high-quality and distinctive, having breadth, depth, wit and intelligence. The station's distinctive approach to news is based on a wide news agenda, its accessible tone and interaction with the audience. Audiences also praise the station's coverage of breaking news stories.

We recognise one of the station's strengths is the balance between coverage of lighter and heavier items, and while we believe 5 live should cover a broad range of news and topical items, we would like the station to ensure that all of its news programmes demonstrate a clear sense of journalistic ambition and originality. We have set out a number of conclusions and actions to ensure that 5 live maximises its considerable strengths in news.

5 live's audience greatly appreciates the quality of its sports coverage, and we recognise the important role 5 live plays for the BBC as a major outlet for a wide range of sports. We believe the BBC is uniquely able to provide coverage of a range of sports, including those of minority interest, and that 5 live could do more to reflect these in its output.

5 live has a sizeable budget, due to the costs of its high-quality and original news and sports programming. While we acknowledge that sports rights and programming can be expensive, we expect the balance of spending to shift more towards news in coming years.

Following these findings we have:

  • asked BBC management to aim to raise audiences awareness of 5 live, in particular its news output, and ensure that its appeal remains broad
  • amended 5 live's remit in the service licence to more closely reflect the nature of news on the station and created a clearer set of commitments for news programming on 5 live
  • asked BBC management to provide more coverage of a range of sports on 5 live alongside football.

5 live sports extra

5 live sports extra is valued for its additional high-quality coverage of a range of sporting events. We believe it is performing well as a complementary service to 5 live and that it should continue to offer sports coverage that cannot be accommodated on other BBC radio stations.

Full report