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BBC Trust service review of BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

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Adrian Van-Klaveren Adrian Van-Klaveren | 11:00 UK time, Monday, 30 January 2012

BBC Trust chairman Chris Patten talking to 5 live Drive presenters Peter Allen and Aasmah Mir

The BBC Trust have today published an in-depth review of Radio 5 live and 5 live Sports Extra, based on extensive consultation with our listeners and detailed analysis of the station’s performance.

The report concludes that the stations are performing well and delivering real value to licence fee payers.

It praises our news coverage as having breadth, depth, wit and intelligence and nine out of ten listeners rate our sports coverage as high quality.

There are a number of recommendations and actions which we’ll be considering in detail over the next few weeks and developing plans to put into practice.

You can read the Trust’s full report here.

Related links:

BBC Trust

Adrian Van Klaveren is the controller of BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC 5 Live Sports Extra.



  • Comment number 1.

    Oh yes very good and some very nice cherry picking of quotes from contributors in the audience research section.Can't be bothered to add any names to the quotes about how fantastic 5live is ,which makes it all seems rather dubious and no quotes from contributors with any criticisms at all....how strange ? Rather than Talksport being a rival broadcaster, 5lives main intent seems to be bringing BBC broadcasting down to that level ! In comparison to the so called ' wit ' on 5live I must admit this survey did make me laugh out loud.
    (5live ex listener ).

  • Comment number 2.

    Skim read the report.

    72% listeners are male! They want more 25-34 to listen! The only way they will achieve that is by ladding the service up. The more they lad, the more the remaining 28% of female listeners who probably like news more than sport (generalisation) will switch off.

    High quality journalism. Now there's a phrase. It certainly doesn't exist everywhere on the station. It is interspersed anyway with trivia which demeans anything important preceding/following.

    Breaking news to increase. This means either yet more "we bring you this breaking news just off the wire. Blah blah" which is then repeated at least three times and you still don't know any more than the first time it was read out. Why not wait until you have some proper information?. Or news conferences following something like a trial or an appeal for help, where you hear the answer but never the question, lost in the back of the press conference room in the faint distance.

    Three quarters of output should be news and current affairs. Impossible on 5Live. Unless you include as current affairs people hawking their film, book, comedy tour, or programme around every chat show going.

    More sports should be covered. At least 20 sports from around the world over a year. Suppose that covers the strange obsession with American football! They have to search for other sports because the BBC has lost contracts to the ones people want to listen to. And what is 'minority sport'? Are you going to spend valuable assets and licence fee money on outside broadcasts of fell running or squash? Didn't think so.

    Cuts to Sunday comedy and savings on overnight broadcasting. No idea what is going to come from this - repeats of the execrable music review from Mondays (25 year olds will love it if it's not on too early) or maybe some of those endless sport review programmes from evenings when you can only supply updates of matches because you have lost the coverage, such as Robbie Savage and Matthew Syed giving their opinions to Eleanor Oldroyd, good for repeats because they always say the same things every time they are on anyway.

    Poor old regional journalists. The end of the one thing that used to make the station feel outdoors-national as opposed to indoors-newsroom.

    I think the detractors and those who LOVED the station once and who are being cut out of being able to feed back opinions could have said what was going to be in this Service Review before it was even published.

  • Comment number 3.

    Haven't skimmed or read in detail but with opening paragraphs that read:-

    "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.

    ... I sense the PR police are all over this. I know, I'm one.

    It's all about praise, not one atom of objectivity or criticism.

    Fedster will love it!

  • Comment number 4.

    Adrian any updates regarding how the Commentator setup will look from next Season? According to Charles Sale you are planning to make 5 of your Commentators redudnant, i hope the likes of John Murray, Ian Dennis and Conor Mcnamara are not on this list, i am assuming that Alan Green and Mike Ingham will be the 2 untouchables?

    How is the recent news that BBC Radio asa a whole will not face the full brunt of the Cuts as first feared going to effect 5live? Are certain shows going to be saved?

    Will your commitment to cover more minority Sports and spend more on News, going to lessen the amount of live Football you broadcast? If this is the case it would be extremly dissapointing because 5live football coverage is exceptional, and you would lose many listeners if you lose the rights to the Champions League, Premier League etc.

  • Comment number 5.

    Mr Stumps lets be honest whatever the report said you would have lambasted it, overall 5live and Sports extra are doing well, i think that hurts you a bit, come on admit it!!!

  • Comment number 6.

    I love it how UTV Media are pretending to have an interest in rasing 5lives standards, as well as trying to come across as doing the public a favour by making 5live more accountable in their eyes,i love this quote from Scott Taunton:

    "Whilst the trust has set out a number of important actions, we will need to wait and see whether this has a material impact on 5 Live's performance and distinctiveness. We will therefore be watching the response of BBC management closely.

    The only reason they will be watching BBC Managment closely, is to see whether they can pick up more live football cheaply, UTV couldnt care less about 5live as a whole, please Adrian do not sell your soul to the Devil, i do not want to listen to Premiership and Champions League football on talkSPORT, 5live is the master at covering live football!!!

  • Comment number 7.

    You could save a few salaries by dropping traffic news, which is read so fast anyway you miss where you may be affected before you know it. Three traffic news readers=one decent commentator, or maybe one regional reporter could stay the course of their contracts. The person presenting the programme could read out a really dire traffic warning but for the rest, the news that there was an accident but it is clear now, which features quite alot, especially when Michelle does the traffic, could be dropped quite easily.

    Why are there so many Northern Ireland news stories on Nolan and repeats of his weekday stuff? With the cut in regional reporters we are likely to get even less than the minute amount we get now from these people, and we will be left with the interminable stuff from Northern Ireland whilst Scotland, Wales and England are virtually ignored.

    How many BBC 5 Live employees are 'doing their programmes from the Olympic site' while the Olympics are on? Freebies just like Wimbledon. In the Times today there is a report that some small blocks of flats nearby will be partially used by the BBC (with subletting if possible) and this coverage and entertaining budget (how much) will be swallowing up the regional reporter cuts. (Some of the flats actually have real tenants in them at the moment who are worried about being thrown out). I am looking forward to making an FOI request to find out how much is being spent on staffing costs for the Olympics.

    Jack is correct and that whole report could have been written the day the review was announced, leaving spaces for the numbers and percentages.

    Anyway I am very glad 5 Live and 5Live sports Extra are so fantastic. Apparently.

  • Comment number 8.

    Well, I've skimmed the report, and later read it again and have not changed my opinion about it.

    There is one key point, and that says that 5 live should not concentrate on winning listeners aged 25 to 34, but should concentrate on all listeners, whatever their age. That seems reasonable.

    Another point is that more resources including financial resources should be given to the news output. The report says that the news programmes have a greater audience, but that the sports programmes with only 25% of air time cost more than the news programmes. That certainly seems reasonable to give more money to the news programmes.

    There is a very low proportion of female listeners. There does n't seem to be a specific policy to deal with this. However, the report says that 5 live is known by the public as a sports station, and the report suggests that more should be done to publicise the fact that 5 live is also a news station, in fact more news than sport. This might interest more female listeners.

    It is a somewhat brief comment by Adrian Van Klaveren here. I presume that he approves of the report. It does seem to be a reasonable report.

  • Comment number 9.

    The BBC review the BBC, and what do you know, everything turns out to be just fine!

    Sure, a few tweaks are needed but there'll be ignored or massaged and everything will carry-on as before; only with a new mandate to ignore the wishes of the listener for the usual bloody-minded/we know best attitude that never consults the licence payer or includes anyone's opinion but their own.

    The station is failing miserably to deliver anything other than trivia and Ceefax McNews - it simply isn't good enough. The presenters are either absent or in London and there is a prevailing apathy to the whole station. But as long as you impress yourselves that seems to be ok.

  • Comment number 10.

    Hang on here, surely the listeners who took part in the consultation reviewed 5live, W2M are you really questioning the integeriy of the majority of 5live listeners? It seems to me that the anti 5live brigadeon this Blog are extremly bitter that things have not gone there way, the facts are to get an accurate view of what the majority of listeners think about 5live, the report is a must read, it just goes to show how in the minority some of the views held by the anti 5live briagde really are, the official picture truly paints a different, truer picture.

  • Comment number 11.

    The majority of 5Live listeners? Less than 9000 people responded.

  • Comment number 12.

    I have never felt the need to comment on a Five Live blog before, but this one has made me register in resignation.
    I feel quite sad that I am apparently in a small minority of people who find the station too 'light' to use the words of the report. I'm speaking as a 37 year old who has been listening to the station since it started and am increasingly infuriated by the trivial nonsense of programmes like Richard 'text in with your favourite biscuit' Bacon. I'd be intrigued to know if this sort of childishness will be included in the 75% news quota.

    I became addicted to Five Live in my 20s by quality presenters like Simon Mayo, Peter Allen, Jane Garvey, Alan Robb & Fi Glover and hope that the trust don't patronise younger listeners by assuming that the embarrassing 'light' stories are going to suddenly make them regular listeners. They'd probably treat the biscuit text-in like an embarrassing uncle trying to be trendy!

    If this is the way ahead for FiveLive, it looks like I'll be one of the 'small minority' who will be moving to Radio 4. At least I'll be lowering their age demographic!

  • Comment number 13.

    I'm fairly sure 9000 is a pretty huge sample size when considering what the majority of 5live listeners think about the station. A much better one than the 5 or 6 angry people who regularly post on the 5live blog anyway.

    If it's good enough for Ipsos Mori, it's probably good enough for the BBC.


  • Comment number 14.

    I would agree with that point if we weren't discussing a subject with so many shades of views.

    This is a self-selected sample and is not scientifically possible to break down. So any of the scientific selection procedures used by any polling - and this is not polling but collecting by internet blurred and random feelings - cannot be quoted.

    To give one example of blur: I enjoy Drive pretty well all of the time unless (apart from total text trivia), I like Victoria's programme if it doesn't contain the music review, and I like Breakfast if one of the main presenters is off. So holding these piecemeal views how does one answer questions as presented by the people collecting data for this report? These are three of the main serious programmes on the station. So I would expect to come over as a very content listener, when I am not, because of the drawbacks of those programmes. And by the way, historically there were far more people posting on the old messageboards both anti and in favour of output, especially in the earlier days of the station, than post now, we are becoming fewer because we are all giving up and there is no place for an opinion. But how do you know what the majority of listeners think about the station? It is just as likely to be on the discontent side as the content.

  • Comment number 15.

    Excellent post 12.Don't worry you are not the only one who has had the good sense to move to Radio 4 from the dumbed down 5live.That is the main reason why 5lives listener figures are constantly diminishing.Fortunately for the BBC there is a core 5live listener now, for those who remain, who obviously like their radio light and fluffy mixed in with celebrity gossip/reality tv, endless dire stand up comedians, various egotistical and opinionated well paid presenters and of course the ones who can't live without their Premier/Champions League Football or a few less 5live commentators.Highering standards will only anger them.

  • Comment number 16.

    Another vote for Message 12 but sadly it's not just Richard Bacon who trivialises things, Tony Livesey is as bad.

    I used to listen to the late night slot regularly but now it's BBC4 extra or a DVD. Also.. Please can the station stop butting into an important news story with the latest score in some particular game it is incredubly rude, ruins the flow and is extremely annoying.

  • Comment number 17.

    "But how do you know what the majority of listeners think about the station? It is just as likely to be on the discontent side as the content."

    No one can know what 7 million people think, in an indepth manner, about a 24 hour radio station.

    But well, the BBC Trust has just published a study of 9000 listeners, and according to that study the majority are content rather than discontent. What more can you can resonably ask for?

    It seems weird to me that you appear to be demanding to adore every second of broadcasting coming from one radio station. You don't need to be 'very content', you need to like most of what you listen to. You've said you mostly like 4 hours of daily programming (Vic's music thing is stupid, but it's only 15 minutes a week!) and partly like another 2 (so long as someone you don't like personally isn't presenting). That's almost 6 hours a day, weekday anyway, of programming you've said you 'enjoy'. If that doesn't leave you 'content' then I would question whether anything would. Plus, you've pointed yourself out as unusual 'average' listener. Very few people listen to a radio station for more than 15 minutes a day, so frankly if you find yourself liking or at least approving of 45 minutes of programming a day, then 5live is providing you with all you can reasonably expect. 5live has a responsibility to its 7 million listeners, not just 1 or even 1000. This study shows that 'most' people are pretty happy with what it's doing.

    Good for them I say. I'm still pretty happy with it and I've been a listener for over 10 years.

  • Comment number 18.

    Funny you should say that zeld ( post 16 ) ...I used to love my radio listening between 10pm and 1am and never missed a show but the radio is so bad now that I've taken to watching dvds and watching mainly film noir movies or old tv series at that time.So its not all bad.

  • Comment number 19.

    I go back alot further than 10 years as a listener to the various types of Radio 5. I have never come across you as a poster until today UnallocatedB. How interesting.

    I don't demand to love every second of things I listen to but what I would like to hear is national broadcasting on a national station, instead of experts being wheeled in from 500 yards down the road from MediaCity, reporters talking about life somewhere else other than a cheap vox pop in central Manchester, guests from Manchester and environs, and football teams a bit more featured than just Mancs, Mancs, Mancs the whole time.

    I do not accept your 15 minutes a day, i think you will find the figure averages out at something like 3 hours per day. I listen to the radio for around 12 hours over the 24 which I accept is probably too much, and in fact when I went to a 'meet the listener' with another listener, Victoria, her team and Adrian V-K, I was jokingly told I listened to 5Live too much as I had too many facts about the station at my finger tips.

  • Comment number 20.

    That last sentence was very enlightening carrie.Just goes to show how very little responsibility and importance they attach to being part of a team broadcasting on a national radio station.Doesn't really surprise me either.

  • Comment number 21.

    There were about 15 people there to hear it said to me actually, it was at the point AV-K took over the station.

    Anyway the point is that it ain't the place it used to be, and UnallocatedB would probably say 'time to move on, dear' to me. Except I won't.

  • Comment number 22.

    No one here needs to accept my 15 minute claim, but it should be noted that it is the amount of time generally accepted by radio ratings agencies over most of the western world. Nor would I suggest that anyone needs to 'move on', tho I do question why you'd spend so much time listening to something that winds you up more than it makes you happy. But I also know some people have been complaining on these boards for a loooong time, so I suspect complaining might be the point.

    Nothing stays the same. Changes always come. It's nothing new that change upsets people. 5live cannot sit completely still in a media environment that is constantly evolving. Very few stations are the same as they were 15 years ago, with the same programmes or same presenters or same audience. If many of your fave presenters have moved on to other stations, surely it's easier to follow them there rather than moan for a decade. Also, radio's a beautiful technology which allows one to listen to one programme on one station, then switch to another. And if you're feeling crazy, you can even switch back! I listen to a lot of 5live, but I also take in the World Service, 6 Music, podcasts from around the world. I guess I just want to stick up for a station that generally does a great job. Even if I dislike some of what they do.

    Do elaborate why you find my sudden appearance so interesting. Is there a gatekeeper I should have alerted first? Secret handshake?

  • Comment number 23.

    The BBC trust report states: 'The average 5 live listener tunes in for around 7 hours and 33 minutes each week. This is lower than all other BBC network radio stations except for Radio 3'

    This would suggest that the at least 10 to 15 million people are listened to the radio for at least an hour a day, so it probably isn't correct to say that very few people listen for more than 15 minutes a day.

    All I know is that I'm resigned to my listening falling well below 7.5 hours with the current obsession with trivial & celebrity news which I've read on the Guardian website is now known as 'topicality'- this morning's highly important news about a new character in Downton Abbey typifying this approach!

  • Comment number 24.

    I find it interesting when someone appears having not posted under that name before, and who has opinions that have surprisingly never been posted about anything on these blogs.

    Anyway, we are really in the land of 5Live over the last 24 hours, switching from suicide tragedy stories straight to teaching some American woman how to speak cockney. There is the 5Live so many love. But not me really. As you say, plenty of other stuff to listen to.

  • Comment number 25.

    Putting more money into news output obviously means that someone at 5live has had a right rap on the knuckles and is an admittance of falling well below the 75% figure agreed, which has been discussed on these blogs for god knows how long ? Someone had the strange idea that celebrity gossip ,talk concerning reality tv shows,lamentable music reviews and an endless supply of unfunny stand up comedians was somehow contributing to 5lives news commitment.

  • Comment number 26.

    Fair enough, when I think about it I certainly listen for much more than 15 per day on average, but then I'll listen to 4 hours of football on a weekend. Having read the report tho, I maintain that more people are happy with the station than are unhappy. This morning's Downton Abbey thing was only 5 minutes out of a 2 hour programme. Why you would discount the whole thing just for that mystifies me.

  • Comment number 27.

    I also question why some people find it delicious that someone is being 'rapped on the knuckles'. Seems a bit mean spirited. And it's a touch over dramatic to claim there is an endless number of unfunny stand up comedians. It's realistically just one per day, slightly more on the weekends. I am glad that my contribution interests people. Just trying to widen the area of opinion on the blog. Mine's no more valid than any others.

  • Comment number 28.

    I agree with the post about the late night show. I have listened to this slot for many years from the days of the News Extra through Nick Robinson, Fi Glover etc. I started to lose interest when Richard Bacon took over as it became too trivial and now with Tony Livesey it's even worse. Last week is a prime example. On Monday night when the Northern Lights were visbale in the UK, he was running a text in asking what you could see out of your window if you couldn't see the Northern Lights!! Come on this is tacky rubbish. Then on Tuesday night all the usual cronies - why does he need so many people to help him host the show, always butting in - were out and about in the 5Live city of the year and heading up to 11 news they had a band playing, which was faded out for the News intro and then faded up again for the presenters to shout over what was coming up in the next hour before handing back to Manchester for the news and sport. It sounded awful, and unprofessional for a national broadcaster. I'd be interested to learn how much of the show is considered to be part of the 75% news output, as most of it is just trivial, dumbed down rubbish.

  • Comment number 29.

    Granted, the story on Downton Abbey was only 5 minutes long, but I only heard Breakfast until 0645 when I got to work, so to me it was 5 minutes out of 45 and involved a pretty trivial discussion with an American showbiz journalist. I mentioned it because it's typical of the type of story that's creeping into the 'news' agenda. Weekend Breakfast is particularly bad for continuously mentioning Strictly/X Factor/Celebrity Skating and there's always a showbiz mag journalist giving their views as if it's the most important thing in the world.
    Again, it's my opinion and the survey suggests it's a minority one so I'll accept it isn't aimed at me any more and listen to something else instead.

  • Comment number 30.

    Ok so the trust want to reduce the sport content!! Apart from an hour once a week on Shelaghs show sport is on for 3-4 hours a night and at weekends. That is not the majority of time. Also they want more coverage of minority sports. The reason they are minority is that not many people want to follow them. And before people whinge I am not a footie nut but one of the minority who follows championship rugby league and british american football. I, however dont expect them on a station which is for the majority.

  • Comment number 31.

    I would love to know how much some of these presenters, say Bacon as an example, get paid for this stuff? Jontwood, I think there is more sport than you account for in your post. It seeps in to every programme apart from Bacon's. I used to enjoy Rugby league coverage, pity it isn't really covered these days. My favourite is golf, great reporters on the team.

  • Comment number 32.

    Bacon gets £200k plus. So go on moderate me. If your'e in, you're really in. Remember the "Rules of Chat" a couple of years ago - where is that great idea now?

    The whole commissioning thing stinks. Mates, drinking buddies and ex Blue Peter buddies

  • Comment number 33.

    I used to listen to 5 Live for most of the day, however I think it has lost its way in its programming. I for one am happy for coverage of sport as I always remember that was what the 5 Live of old was all about. I seem to remember there used to be a lot more calls from the public throughout most shows. Nowadays they are hand picked commentators for most of the content during the day. I want to listen to what people like me are saying about the news or sports not the usual suspects that get rolled out all the time.

  • Comment number 34.

    Does anyone know what the defination of minority sports is? I have glanced through the report but didn't notice a defination. I presume that it means any sports other than football?

    If so then this is good news, too often big events in sports such as rugby league, rugby union are athletics sidelined to sportsextra when events like the Rugby Legau Challenge Cup Final should always be live on Five Live.

  • Comment number 35.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 36.

    What an ongoing waste of money: Shelagh going down to London on the train for PMQs whilst Bacon goes up to Manc. to do his show. Where is the sense in any of this?

  • Comment number 37.

    What about Vicky Derbyshire .....is she still doing her shows from London ?

  • Comment number 38.

    A radio with a remote control is the only way to go.

  • Comment number 39.

    Adrian are you going to respond to the Questions/Comments?

  • Comment number 40.

    He's probably too busy looking for a rented penthouse in Manchester to be bothered with reading all this.

  • Comment number 41.

    comment 37- I read last week that she flies to Manchester from Heathrow and back, daily (to be able to pick up her children from school) think may have read it in the Sunday Times - can't remember now but was in a piece about the Salford move isn't doing what it was meant to in terms of employing locals - 16 jobs out of 200 have been filled apparently by locals.

  • Comment number 42.

    According to the Guardian today, the latest Rajars show that FiveLive has lost 1 million listeners. I wonder why. Like Carrie, my listening habits have certainly changed over the last 18 months or so, and now I never listen to FiveLive in the afternoon or after 10.00 pm, unless Rhod Sharp is on. I, too, would be interested to know how much is being spent on travelling to and from the new studio and how many presenters are being put up in hotels (step forward Stephen Nolan). This is licence-payers' money, after all, and is money that is not being spent on programmes.

  • Comment number 43.

    Interesting that the Guardian says 'Big news boosts audiences for Radio 4's Today programme and John Humphrys'. If 5 Live is the home of live news and sport why has it lost a million listeners? This is not the first quarter that listener numbers have fallen; we have had AVK/ Wall try and spin poor figures for the last few quarters.

    Time for a revamp and get back to being a news station rather than all the celebrity, entertainment and trivia content. First place to start, Bacon.

  • Comment number 44.

    Strange that we haven't had the usual hugh rush of putting out a blog with the complacent attitude of empty words including ' 5live continues to perform strongly and is highly rated by our listeners....'

    Most of the radio listening general public are fully aware when their intelligence is being insulted, so they turn to get their news from somewhere else.Pity that this simple fact still hasn't gotten through to the people at 5live.

  • Comment number 45.

    You spoke too soon, GingerTompkins. Have you read the latest post about the Rajars on this site? I couldn't agree more with your second paragraph. You're absolutely correct.

  • Comment number 46.

    Well blow me down, yes I did speak too soon DaPonte,it probably took longer to spin everything than usual.Thanks for the Guardian heads up btw.

  • Comment number 47.

    If people are going to Radio 4, then why should 5 live change what it's doing to be more like Radio 4? Surely 5 live should be less like Radio 4 so that a wider group of license fee payers have something to listen to.

  • Comment number 48.

    Sadly that would not explain why there are fewer listeners to the station, it isn't like Radio Four, in fact it is the opposite, and there doesn't seem to be much evidence of a wider group of licence payers tuning in.

  • Comment number 49.

    Ginger your contribution was just read out on Feedback - Radio Four of course!!

  • Comment number 50.

    Cheers carrie.I'll catch up with it later on the listen again machinery.


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