Your questions answered
Note: Adrian is responding to questions sent in by 5 live listeners and readers of this blog. Some of the questions have been combined or grouped together to avoid repetition.
1. Are you changing the station's character? Are you trying to appeal to a different audience? Has this changed?
5 live has a unique character, based on both its content (live news, live sport, debate and discussion) and its attitude and tone. These things are always evolving - if they were static, there would come a point where people were criticising the station for not moving on in its sound and content. But I'm certainly not changing the station in any radical way - of course we want to draw in new listeners but every listener we currently have is precious and we don't want to lose anyone.
2. There seems to be much more entertainment on 5 live now. Are you moving away from 5 live's news and sport remit?
No - the core of 5 live is coverage of live news and sport. Entertainment news is an important part of our news coverage - we know that many people are interested in events ranging from the Oscars to the Brits, the latest blockbuster TV series or the celebrity who everyone is talking about. In a broader sense, there's the question of whether 5 live should be entertaining. My answer is yes of course we should. Of course not every story or programme is going to be high in entertainment value because that wouldn't be appropriate given the nature of many news stories. But overall I think part of what people expect from 5 live is to be entertained whether it's casual asides by Peter Allen during Drive or entertainment-based programme formats such as Fighting Talk.
3. The daytime line-up is now filled with 'lightweights' - presenters more comfortable with entertainment or sport than with hard news. Why have you made this change?
I don't think that's fair at all. Our weekday daytime presenters are currently Nicky Campbell, Shelagh Fogarty, Victoria Derbyshire, Gabby Logan, Richard Bacon, Peter Allen and Aasmah Mir. There's a huge amount of broadcasting experience there and a vast range of interests. It's the essence of what 5 live is about - different styles and different views on life. But all of our presenters are comfortable handling breaking news and major developments in sport.
4. If the Q1 RAJARs are down will you rethink the schedule changes?
I think it's really important that we look at the effect of schedule changes over a period of time - certainly a twelve to eighteen month period would be much more appropriate than a single quarter. There are also many factors at play - the sporting calendar, news events, and changes in the competitive market can all have an impact on the RAJAR numbers. So this is a long-term judgment, not something which could be decided on the basis of one quarter's worth of figures whether they go up or down.
5. Why do you fly Stephen Nolan to Manchester to present his show when he could stay in Belfast and present down the line? How much does it cost to transport him and put him up in Manchester?
Let me say firstly that we always try to achieve the highest quality programme at the best value for money. To produce a live, all-speech three hour radio programme involves far more people than just the presenter. Stephen Nolan's production team are all based in Manchester and are part of a seven day a week operation there which is more efficient to organise than a number of small, individual production teams in different parts of the country. Of course there is a cost involving in bringing Stephen to Manchester and we have tried presenting the programme from Belfast on occasions. But editorially there is a danger of leaving a presenter isolated especially in the event of breaking news so on those occasions we have found it necessary to send a member of the production team to Belfast to make this work smoothly, therefore not making any saving. Of course many media presenters have regularly travelled to London to present programmes over the years, incurring costs as they do so.
6. Has 5 live's budget suffered in the recent round of cuts?
Like all parts of the BBC, we have had to find ways of saving money over the last few years. By making ourselves more efficient and controlling costs and spending in certain areas, we have delivered those savings without damaging the quality of the station. The recent BBC Strategy Review has endorsed 5 live's direction so it does not propose any further changes to 5 live's budget as part of the reprioritisation of BBC spending.
7. Have 5 live presenters been told by management to use social media - Twitter and Facebook?
Social media are an important part of communication in 2010 - they can give a direct way of engaging with people and build deeper connections. We use social media in all sorts of ways ranging from placing content such as the 5 live Football Player on Facebook to updating programme information through Twitter. It is up to presenters and individual programmes to identify the best ways of making connections through social media for their output. It's an area which is developing fast and we are still learning about what works and what doesn't.
8. Why are some presenters allowed to send politically partisan tweets on the account they publicise on-air?
We have editorial guidelines for news presenters which include the need to be politically impartial in any public forum. All of our presenters are aware of this guidance and I am not aware of any tweets which have breached this recently.
9. 5 live is now the only national network without a messageboard. Why did you sanction the closure of the messageboard and why have you ignored all requests to reopen it?
When I became Controller of 5 live, the station message board had already closed. What we had were two message boards for discussing news - one UK and one World. These were general discussions and, to be honest, they had very little connection with the station's output. We never talked about them on air and the online discussions felt like they existed in their own world. We closed those two news-related message boards and opened this blog as an effort to find a way of discussing 5 live the station - updating listeners on important developments and answering questions.
10. How will you respond to the loss of two packages of Premier League football?
Obviously we're disappointed by losing the late game on a Saturday and the early match on Sunday. It's worth remembering though that we will still be offering far more Premier League football than any other station as well as the Champions' League, the FA and League Cups, the Europa League, the Championship and the SPL. We are working on our detailed plans for next season including a full Sports Report and 606 on Saturday evenings and some new ideas for football coverage and discussion for Sunday lunchtimes. We'll be able to give more details over the summer.
11. How many 5 live staff are going to the World Cup? Are you sending presenters as well as sports staff?
The World Cup is a huge event for 5 live and we know many of our listeners care passionately about it. We will be presenting many hours of output from South Africa including sports programmes to cover all the main matches as well as 5 live Breakfast and the Saturday morning programme. In total we'll have 48 people including four presenters there for some part of the coverage. Everyone in South Africa for us will be involved in both news and sports coverage.
12. Why don't you delay the move to Salford until after the Olympics? How much more will it cost to cover the Olympics from Salford than from your London base?
Planning the BBC's move to Salford of course began before London was awarded the 2012 Olympics. If we delayed the move, it would mean leaving empty a newly constructed and fitted out building for the best part of a year. That would be vastly more expensive than the cost of bringing people involved in Olympics coverage from Salford to London for just over two weeks. We will keep the core team who are working full-time on planning the Olympics coverage in London rather than move them to Salford.
13. What are the big challenges for 5 live now? And what are your ambitions for the station?
The biggest challenges 5 live faces are shared with the rest of the radio industry in the UK. For me, the biggest issues are how we keep radio relevant to people of all age groups, interests and backgrounds, how we make the switch to digital in all of its forms, how we keep generating fresh ideas and how to make sure we discover outstanding new presenters.
For 5 live in particular, the move to Salford is a huge landmark in the station's history, giving us the chance to create an even better station; we want to be more distinctive with a wider range of stories and voices. More than that, we want to be a vital part of growing the role of speech radio in the UK. Our mix of news, sport and discussion is ideally suited to a busy, connected, mobile world - we can give people the information they want when they want it, we can bring events vividly to life and we can get everyone involved in what we do. Our ambition is simple - to create great radio which is ambitious, unpredictable and relevant to everyone.
Adrian Van Klaveren is Controller of BBC Radio 5 live and 5 live Sports Extra