Complaint that Radio 5 does too much non-news rejected

The BBC Trust has rejected a complaint brought by commercial radio station Talksport claiming that Radio 5 strays too far beyond its news and sport remit.

Talksport, which is owned by UTV Media, first made the complaint to the BBC management in May 2010 was in breach of its licence.

When this was turned down it took its case to the Trust, arguing that only 45-56 per cent of 5 Live’s output consisted of news – rather than the 75 per cent required by its service licence.

Talksport produced multiple examples of what it claimed to be non-news content within programmes defined by the BBC as news programmes, including discussions about presenters’ recurring nightmares, listeners’ irrational hatreds and a profile of the jazz singer Billie Holiday

It also claimed the station was failing to give sufficient attention to secondary and minority sports.

In response to the claims, the Trust today issued a statement saying: ‘Following careful consideration, the Trust has not upheld UTV’s complaints. The Trust’s general appeals panel found that 5 Live is operating within the terms of its service licence.”

The Trust did, however, concede that UTV had ‘raised some issues that merit further exploration’when 5 Live’s licence review begins on 20 April.

UTV managing director Scott Taunton said: ‘The appeal findings leave us in no doubt that the BBC Trust has major questions about 5 Live’s provision of continuous news and a home for minority sports, and that it wants to see – through the licence review – a significant tightening of its remit in these areas.

“I’m particularly pleased that the BBC Trust has recognised the potential flaws in BBC management’s methodology for measuring the percentage of 5 Live’s output which is news.

“It’s clear to us that the BBC should set the standard for news, rather than adopting a broad definition which includes interviews with celebrities or trivial listener anecdotes.”

He added: “The technical detail of our complaint was always secondary to these broader issues about 5 Live’s remit and performance and I’m pleased that the BBC Trust has agreed to address the substantive points we raised in the course of its service review.”

Radio 5 live controller Adrian Van Klaveren said: “We’re pleased with the BBC Trust’s findings that Radio 5 live is compliant with its service licence obligations to provide 75 per cent of its output as news, rejecting UTV’s claim that this was not the case.

“Radio 5 live will fully engage with the Trust’s scheduled routine review of the Service Licence of BBC Radio 5 live and 5 live sports extra this year, which is unrelated to the complaint from UTV.’

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