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Ofcom Calls for More U.K. Content on BBC Services


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British media regulator Ofcom has established new quotas for U.K.-originated shows on BBC channels, including in the areas of arts, music, comedy and kids’ content.

Beginning next year, Ofcom has mandated that at least 75 percent of all program hours on the BBC’s most popular TV channels be original commissions for U.K. audiences. During peak evening hours on BBC One and BBC Two, that quota rises to 90 percent. CBBC must air at least 400 hours of brand-new U.K. commissions per year, while CBeebies must deliver a minimum of 100.

Ofcom became the BBC’s first independent, external regulator in April and today published new rules as part of the pubcaster’s operating license.

“Ofcom wants all parts of the U.K. to be accurately reflected, and invested in, by the BBC,” the regulator stated. “So the license also requires more BBC content to be made across the U.K. and in the nations.”

According to the new rules, at least half of the network hours on the BBC’s television channels must be made outside of London. There are separate minimum quotas for each U.K. nation, largely based on population size. Plus, BBC One and BBC Two together must air more than 6,000 program hours of specific interest to the nations and regions. Moreover, the BBC will be required to spend broadly the same amount on programs, per head, in all four of the U.K.’s nations.

Other stipulations in the new license include quotas for news and current affairs, arts, music and religious programs on BBC One and Two, and an improvement in diversity.

“Ofcom expects the BBC, as the national broadcaster, to lead the way in addressing under-representation,” the regulator said. “So today’s operating license includes a range of new requirements to ensure, for the first time, the BBC is publicly accountable for achieving its workforce diversity targets. These include 15 percent of staff to be from ethnic minority groups, and 50 percent of all staff and leadership roles to be held by women by 2020.”

The pubcaster will also need to implement an Ofcom-approved Commissioning Code of Practice for diversity, covering on-screen portrayal and casting, as well as workforce diversity.

Kevin Bakhurst, Ofcom’s content and media policy director, said, “The BBC is the cornerstone of U.K. broadcasting. But we think it can do more to provide quality, distinctive programs that reflect the interests and lives of people across the U.K. Our rules will ensure the BBC focuses on original U.K. content and invests in vital areas such as children’s programs, music, arts and religion.”



About Mansha Daswani

Mansha Daswani is the editor and associate publisher of World Screen. She can be reached on mdaswani@worldscreen.com.

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