BBC Governors launch first public consultation on radio

MUMBAI: The BBC Board of Governors in the UK has launched its first public consultation, on proposals to make the Corporation's radio archive more widely available to the public via commercial radio stations in the UK.

The BBC management has developed the proposals, which they believe could release further value to licence payers by giving them additional opportunities to listen to BBC content and through the revenue generated via licensing.

The proposals recommend:

- Making some archive programmes available for licensing by UK commercial radio networks for linear broadcast

- Giving consideration to third parties who approach the BBC with specific joint venture proposals

- In light of constantly changing technology, reviewing the strategy in 2008

- Within their proposals management has developed Guidelines for Licensing, to strike what it considers to be an appropriate balance between giving access to as much material as possible while ensuring that the BBC and rights holders are not disadvantaged; that the BBC is credited for its programmes; and that programmes are not presented in a context which is damaging to the BBC's reputation.

- As part of their renewed commitment to become more accountable to licence fee payers and more transparent in their decision-making, the Governors have undertaken to consult the public and the industry on key decisions.

The eight week consultation, which is being led by the Governors' independent advisers in the Governance Unit, is inviting comments and feedback from the public, representatives from the radio industry and other interested parties.

At the end of the consultation period, all responses will be published and analysed, before the Governors come to a final decision based on what they believe is in the best interests of licence fee payers.

There are approximately 750,000 hours of programming in the BBC radio archive, the majority of which is not readily useable, being uncatalogued or held on fragile and perishable media. From this total archive, which is growing all the time, BBC Worldwide currently holds a catalogued archive of more than 20,000 hours for selling BBC Radio output overseas.

Subject to ensuring all relevant rights clearances and in accordance with the proposed Guidelines for Licensing, the BBC is proposing that this catalogue should now be made available for licensing to other radio broadcasters in the UK. In addition, further BBC Radio programmes not included in the BBC Worldwide catalogue could also be made available in the UK. However the BBC states that it is difficult for it to quantify the actual amount of archive that could be licensed to UK broadcasters for a number of reasons.

In particular, without a clearer sense of likely demand, it is difficult for the BBC to assess how much of the material not sold by Worldwide might be made available subject to the commercial viability of locating and preparing that material for broadcast. This consultation is therefore an important step in helping the BBC to understand likely demand and how much of this archive might be licensed by UK broadcasters.

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