Date: 16.05.2012 Last updated: 21.11.2014 at 10.35
The BBC Trust reviews each of the BBC's services every five years. This review looked at BBC Local Radio. Our review took place alongside our consideration of the BBC's proposals to deliver its future strategy to the end of the current Charter period – Delivering Quality First ("DQF").
A summary of our key findings and conclusions is set out below, together with the full report and supporting evidence for the review.
Our service review had three aims: to assess how well BBC Local Radio is performing against its service licence; to consider the stations' future direction; and to decide whether any amendments to the service licence are required.
We launched a public consultation in October 2011 and received around 11,500 responses from licence fee payers (8,900 online and hardcopy consultation responses and 2,600 letters and emails). We also received a number of responses to the Trust's consultation on DQF which related to BBC Local Radio, including over 100 letters from Members of Parliament and over 13,000 petition responses. These have also been taken into account in forming our conclusions about the service. In addition, we received responses from the radio industry, other organisations and the Trust's Audience Council England, and we commissioned bespoke audience research to inform our conclusions. The supporting evidence for this review can be found below.
Conclusions and findings
Our review has found that BBC Local Radio is performing well and is highly appreciated by its audience for providing distinctive local content. The 39 stations are much-loved and act as a friend to many and a lifeline in local emergencies. BBC Local Radio plays an important role in reaching 1.3 million listeners who consume no other radio at all.
BBC Local Radio makes a strong contribution to delivering the BBC's public purposes amongst its audience. Its news programming is highly regarded by the audience and a vital part of the BBC's local provision. This quality local speech content together with a focus on listener involvement, coverage of sports and local community events makes the service highly distinctive within the UK's radio market.
We have considered carefully proposals for the future of BBC Local Radio as part of the BBC's overall cost-cutting and future strategy. The service must continue to provide a distinctive local offer for listeners and continue to improve quality while reaching some new listeners and reducing its costs.
While we believe BBC Local Radio is performing well and that its future strategy will provide a good foundation for future growth and development, we have set out a number of conclusions and actions to ensure that the service continues to deliver its distinctive speech-led content which puts local issues at the centre of its output.
The Trust has assessed the BBC's DQF proposals to make changes to BBC Local Radio, and has formed the view that the proposals do not constitute a significant change to the BBC's UK Public Services. It has therefore decided that a Public Value Test is not required in order for the Trust to approve the future strategy for the service. Our assessment of the significance of the BBCs proposals for BBC Local Radio can be found here.