Ofcom Calls for More UK Content on BBC Services

The BBC said that the new requirements were “tough and challenging”

Under its new licence, BBC One and BBC Two must also between them broadcast more than 6,000 hours of programmes which are of "specific interest" to the nations and regions -95% of which must be made in the areas to which they relate.

Regulator Ofcom has ordered the corporation to air a total of at least 300 hours of comedy programmes, some in peak time, combined on BBC1 and BBC2, every year.

"At least half of network hours on the BBC's television channels will be made outside of London, with separate minimum quotas for each United Kingdom nation, broadly reflecting their population size", Ofcom said.

Ofcom said its goal was to "secure a more distinctive BBC across all its services", a central feature of the new BBC charter, which gave the media regulator oversight of the public broadcaster.

Ofcom has told the BBC it needs to show more programming developed inside Britain. "So the license also requires more BBC content to be made across the United Kingdom and in the nations".

The rules also confirm previous plans for the BBC to spend the same on programmes per head in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and to safeguard "vulnerable genres" such as arts, music and religion.

The main channels will be required to extend their coverage of news & current affairs, science and the arts. It will increase the relevant quotas for BBC One and Two, and introduce new ones for BBC Radio 1 and 2. That means, according to Ofcom, "raising awareness of social issues among younger people and providing a platform on which to engage is one of the key ways Radio 1 can set itself apart from other radio stations".

Workforce diversity will be another point of contention.

"We expect the BBC to have particular regard to this finding in complying with this condition". Current targets are having 15 per cent of staff from ethnic minority groups, and half of staff and leadership roles held by women in 2020.

Ofcom "will scrutinise the BBC's performance to assess whether it is making sufficient progress in serving the UK's diverse communities and whether audiences are satisfied". "If audiences are dissatisfied, the BBC must explain itself and put in place measures on how it will improve", the regulator said.

A BBC spokesman said: "These are a tough and challenging set of requirements which rightly demand a distinctive BBC which serves and represents all audiences throughout the whole UK". "We will now get on with meeting these requirements and continuing to provide the world-class, creative BBC the public wants", they added.

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