Ofcom consults on BBC Sounds’ market position

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UK broadcast regulator Ofcom is consulting on its provisional views on the market position and impact of BBC Sounds, the Corporation’s streaming media and audio download service that includes live radio, audio-on-demand, and podcasts.

The service is now established within the BBC’s audio offer, so Ofcom suggests it is appropriate to take stock of BBC Sounds’ market position and impact. It sought evidence and information from the BBC’s competitors and other interested parties to inform its view.

Having carefully considered this feedback and its own evidence, Ofcom is setting out its provisional view. This is that there are no reasonable grounds to believe BBC Sounds is currently having a significant adverse impact on fair and effective competition.

The evidence suggests that commercial radio has been more successful at attracting online listeners than BBC Sounds. It also suggests that listeners to BBC Sounds use multiple platforms (more so than listeners to other online platforms), that the UK podcast sector has a wide range of non-BBC content, and that podcast producers are able to generate revenue.

Ofcom expects greater transparency from the BBC around its plans and future strategy for the service. It also expects improvements to how it measures BBC Sounds’ performance, to demonstrate how it helps fulfil the BBC’s Mission and Public Purposes. Its consultation seeks views on the information currently provided by the BBC and how that might be improved.

Ofcom plans to address questions about the future regulation of BBC Sounds in its first periodic review of the BBC, and its work on how its Operating Licence should evolve – which will include how the BBC’s online services, including BBC Sounds, should be captured.

It is inviting views and evidence from interested parties on its provisional findings by June 29th 2021. It aims to publish its statement in the autumn of 2021.


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