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MPs call for OfCom review of BBC Sounds app after new dance music service added

By | Published on Friday 18 September 2020


The Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group On Commercial Radio has asked media regulator OfCom to formally investigate the BBC’s Sounds app after the broadcaster announced it was launching a new 24/7 dance music focused strand on the platform.

The new Radio 1 Dance service on BBC Sounds will re-purpose dance music skewed specialist shows from the main Radio 1 station and guest mixes from the broadcaster’s archives to create a genre-specific stream that will, says the Beeb, “give young audiences even more flexibility to listen to their favourite BBC content outside of the more traditional linear schedules”.

Launching the service, Head Of Radio 1 Aled Haydn Jones said: “This is a historic moment for Radio 1. Though the station’s world-leading influence in the dance music scene has spanned decades, we’re now able to stream all of our brilliant shows in one place on BBC Sounds. Radio 1 Dance will be the perfect accompaniment to Radio 1, offering something for everyone, from die-hard dance fans to those simply looking to inject some more energy into their day”.

Meanwhile, Pete Tong, whose Radio 1 show will be a key part of Radio 1 Dance, added: “This is a huge moment for the dance scene and I’m really excited that my Radio 1 show will be providing the soundtrack to drivetime on Radio 1 Dance. I look forward to even more people getting to join us to hear the very best in dance and electronica every Monday to Thursday on the new stream”.

However, Andy Carter MP, who heads up the APPG that supports commercial radio, says that he’s not convinced Radio 1 Dance serves any public service remit and that he’s concerned execs at the Corporation are using BBC Sounds in order to compete head-to-head with music and radio services in the commercial sector.

Carter said yesterday: “It’s imperative for the future of the BBC that it provides high quality, distinctive content that warrants its significant licence fee income. I am concerned about the serious lack of transparency and scrutiny of the BBC Sounds platform. New services like Radio 1 Dance do not appear to meet the important public value tests that the BBC must observe. I hope OfCom will conduct a thorough review of BBC Sounds as a matter of urgency”.

Needless to say, the boss of the commercial radio repping trade group Radiocentre welcomed Carter’s remarks. Noting recent comments made by brand new BBC Director General Tim Davie, Siobhan Kenny said: “We were encouraged to hear new Director General Tim Davie emphasise that distinctiveness and true public service value should be at the heart of all BBC content”.

“It is disappointing therefore to see this announcement of a new 24 hour dance stream”, she went on. “It is really difficult to understand what qualifies as distinctive in this offering. Commercial radio has a rich catalogue in this area and is very popular with audiences”.

She concluded: “We know the BBC is struggling to attract younger audiences but launching in competition to existing, UK-based providers, who rely on advertising revenue rather than public funding, is really not the way ahead. We agree that it is time for an urgent review”.