An Open Letter to OFCOM

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OFCOM has finally taken charge of what many see as the poisoned chalice of the BBC and, for the first time in broadcasting history in the UK, OFCOM is in charge.

It has been an open secret that the regulator did not want to increase its power over the BBC, and saw the attendant dangers. The BBC, for instance, gets 10 times more complaints than commercial broadcasters. Here, former BBC TV, radio and online journalists Eric Wiltsher expresses his views …

Yes, I regularly stress the BBC with complaints and yet I find, after the OFCOM announcement, I am now defending the BBC more than ever.

Whilst some hold the view the BBC should be toppled and ultimately destroyed – that is ridiculous and there is a simple reason why. Dumbing down.

Commercial NEEDS a benchmark and in 2017 the only one is the BBC. I know commercial radio companies have been crying foul recently, that 100% their fault. However, rather than upping their game and competing they would rather run to the regulator like naughty school children saying – Please teacher that nasty BBC are better than us and taking our audiences, can you put them in detention?

The same situation applies with Coke and Pepsi – if one was to be pushed down, the other falls with it, eventually. OFCOM, you need to re-think your strategy.

So, having said that OFCOM have it all wrong, what would I do?

BBC Radio 1 – during the daytime a highly top40 station with a larger playlist than commercial stations. In the evenings, a range of young peoples, I said YOUNG, music from unsigned and indie bands. However, not during the day. RI should expect an audience range up to 30 years old as not all people die when they start work

BBC Radio 1 Extra – should be left as is, it’s a good station and does what is says on the tin.

BBC Radio 2 should be a follow station from Radio One. Meaning daytimes with top 40 hits from the 80’s to the present day on a massive playlist. The evenings should be 50 – 90’s so it can fill in gaps for the older listener. All the other talky shows should move to another station – R2 should be personality radio for the 30s – 50s year olds
BBC Local Radio should be 50s to now music throughout the day

NEWS Content

Radios 1 Extra and 2 should just have one minute news slots – R2 could cope with 5mins in the morning and evening. All the other talky shows should move to another station

Radio’s 3 & 4 could swallow shows correctly removed from Radio 2.

Radio 5 should be a national talk station with 5 extra doing sport.


A very similar approach could follow for television. As it stands now the BBC could swap to one entertainment channel and the BBC News channel. Programmes such as Panorama and Question time would fit perfectly into the new channel and there was breaking news, the red button.
BBC 1 would then become a benchmark for ITV 1.

The same pattern could be extended, if it is the BBC wakes up before it starts it’s slow and painful death.
As it stands now, the new OFCOM guide lines are nothing more than a charter for commercial broadcaster. However, Channel 4 is a Public Service Broadcaster and yet, nothing – why is that?

To further support my view OFCOM cannot regulate BBC content that is exclusively online. Which means BBC 3 is not regulated – how many commercial stations does THREE compete with?
The same goes for music content, how crazy.

Eric Wiltsher

Eric is a former BBC TV, radio & online journalist. Now lives in Slovakia and is MD of a digital media company

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