The BBC Trust has just published its service review of Radio 5 Live and 5 live Sports Extra. The general conclusion seems to be that it’s doing quite well, but needs to focus more on news. There seems to be too much emphasis on sports, and (in terms of sports coverage) not enough emphasis on so-called minority interest sports.
It’s wall-to-wall football, sure enough, even in the summer when there’s supposed to be a break.
As to the news coverage, says the report, there’s probably too much in the way of fluff, and the Trust has asked the BBC to raise public awareness of 5 Live’s news.
I was thinking about this driving home the other day. Richard Bacon’s afternoon show (which replaced Simon Mayo’s excellent show a while ago) is indeed wall-to-wall fluff. He seems to interview a series of standup comedians in heavy rotation, and spends a lot of time promoting himself. During the show that was on the other day, there came a trailer for the station’s news coverage, which consisted of a series of supposedly exciting clips about “breaking” news.
The overall impression I got from the trailer was of news coverage which is constantly interrupted, where nobody gets to finish a sentence or form a coherent thought, and which jumps around from story to story without giving any real depth.
Not the best advertisement I’ve ever heard, but then I’ve long thought that the BBC employs idiots in its marketing and public relations departments.
We recognise one of the station’s strengths is the balance between coverage of lighter and heavier items, and while we believe 5 live should cover a broad range of news and topical items, we would like the station to ensure that all of its news programmes demonstrate a clear sense of journalistic ambition and originality. We have set out a number of conclusions and actions to ensure that 5 live maximises its considerable strengths in news.
You can read a summary of the report by following the link below, and there’s a link on the summary page to the full report.