UK Think Tank Moots Sale of BBC Radio 1 and Radio2

23 May 2006

According to a right-leaning UK think tank, the BBC's top-rated radio stations, pop-peddling Radio 1 and 'easy listening' Radio 2, have "badly bruised" their commercial rivals and should be sold-off for £500 million ($937.75m; €735.49m).

So proposes a paper from the European Policy Forum, a London-based but purportedly independent market-oriented body. The report has been submitted as a contribution to media regulator Ofcom's "blue-sky" review of the shape of broadcast and communications regulation after 2010.

States the EPF paper: "The BBC, with an annual radio budget of £450m, has badly bruised its private sector rivals. [Its] ability to tap all its various media platforms to cross-promote - and cross-subsidise - its radio output has added to the commercial sector's woes."

The report also posits that BBC Radio 1 and Radio 2 be sold, arguing that their public service role is "minimal" and that they would prosper in the commercial sector.

The report's author, Keith Boyfield. runs a business evangelizing the policies of several rightwing think tanks such as the Adam Smith Institute and Centre for Policy Studies.

His opus for the EPF urges: "Rather than rely on the new procedures outlined in the recent white paper ... [and] the BBC Trust to constrain the ability of Radios 1 and 2 [and] radically to alter their content offering, we believe it would be better to privatise both stations as soon as possible. Since they attract the highest radio audiences both stations should prosper in the commercial sector."

While Boyfield's views are as valid as those of any other submission to Ofcom, it is disquieting that that his report is commissioned and submitted by a body whose chairman, Graham Mather, is also a member of Ofcom's content board.

Some might fear that Mather's position both as advocate and possible arbiter creates a tangible discomfort zone.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff