BBC Regulator Sets Quotas for U.K. Originals


At least 75 percent of content on its flagship TV channel must be original productions, including 90 percent in peak time, says Ofcom, which is also requiring the public broadcaster to reflect "the full diversity" of the population.

British media regulator Ofcom said Friday that the BBC must air more original programming specifically for U.K. audiences.

In a move set to further reduce the number of foreign shows and reruns on the public broadcaster, it said that "at least three-quarters of all program hours on the BBC's most popular television channels should be original productions, commissioned by the BBC for U.K. audiences." 

That includes a requirement that "at least 75 percent of all hours on [flagship TV channel] BBC One must be original productions, and 90 percent in peak time," which in Britain is traditionally defined as 5:30 p.m.-11 p.m.

Ofcom said its goal was to "secure a more distinctive BBC across all its services," a central feature of the new BBC charter, which gave the media regulator oversight of the public broadcaster.

Another requirement unveiled Friday is an increased quota for news on BBC One and current affairs on BBC One and BBC Two.

Ofcom also said it will "require the BBC to reflect the full diversity of the U.K. population." In explaining how it plans to achieve that, it wrote: "We are requiring the BBC to put in place a new commissioning Code of Practice for Diversity, approved by us, by April 2018. This will ensure that on- and off-screen diversity considerations are embedded in the commissioning process."

Added Ofcom: "We will also ensure the BBC is publicly accountable for achieving its workforce diversity targets. It must now report in detail on its progress towards these targets each year."

It concluded by highlighting: "We have considered the impact on the BBC of our requirements and we are confident that they are proportionate and deliverable within the BBC’s budgets."

The BBC said about the new targets: "These are a tough and challenging set of requirements, which rightly demand a distinctive BBC which serves and represents all audiences throughout the whole U.K. We will now get on with meeting these requirements and continuing to provide the world-class, creative BBC the public wants."

On the topic of diversity, it added: “We are glad Ofcom has recognized the importance of our existing workforce diversity targets — these include 15 percent of staff to be from ethnic minority groups and 50 percent of all staff and leadership roles to be held by women by 2020.”