John Myers' review of the BBC's popular music stations

Director of Audio & Music

Today we are making public a report which looks at potential synergies and savings within Radio 1, Radio 2, 6 Music and 1Xtra.

Last year, I asked John Myers - CEO of the Radio Academy and one of the most respected figures in the radio industry - to review how our popular music stations are run and how they work together. The key challenge was to identify possible ways of sensibly reducing costs while protecting the quality of our programmes.

The findings of the report will help us with our current planning as we look to save costs. John's extensive experience in commercial radio meant he could take an informed and objective view of our operations.

He spent six weeks in the networks: interviewing, observing and generally digging around. He was given unrestricted access and met people at all levels of the organisation.

We welcome John's broadly positive report and its acknowledgement of the distinctive, high quality services we offer. It is very good to read John's praise of the outstanding people who work at the radio stations.

Importantly, the report recognises that BBC stations have to deliver against detailed service licences which require significant resources and lead to distinct challenges to those producing commercial radio. In John's words, attempting to simply compare the demands on BBC and Commercial Radio is meaningless: "akin to comparing apples and oranges".

However, this doesn't mean that we can't and shouldn't learn from external best practice - this is the very reason that I commissioned the review. The report has some valuable insights and recommendations which have been fed into our discussions around Delivering Quality First (DQF) - the BBC name for the work that is underway to develop a plan for the period of the next Licence Fee settlement.

While it is too early to speculate on specific outcomes (which would all require BBC Trust approval), our commitment to principles such as simplifying the organisation, reducing unnecessary compliance processes and finding new ways of working has already been stated in public.

Helpfully, John has identified some clear areas where we can look to do things more efficiently, such as improving co-ordination and reducing unnecessary duplication where appropriate.

Just like any big organisation, there are always ways of doing things better and BBC radio should continue to demonstrate that it is brilliant value for money. I want to achieve this while ensuring that we do not see a dilution in quality or a reduction in clear station leadership which is at the heart of our editorial success. This will mean better value for Licence Fee payers while not threatening the programmes that listeners love.

Tim Davie is Director of Audio & Music


More Posts