You're not so amusing, Ofcom tells the BBC


At least half of the network hours will be required to be made outside if London with separate minimum quotas for each United Kingdom nation (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) with requirements varying according to the population of the individual region.

Watchdog Ofcom said it will assess whether the corporation is representing and portraying the "diverse communities of the whole of the UK".

Ofcom took over regulation of the BBC earlier this year, and its new guidelines were published yesterday. Radio 1 and Radio 2 in particular will have to up their news output.

On the content front, at least 75% of all programme hours on the most popular channels must be commissioned by the BBC for United Kingdom audiences.

"We expect the BBC to have particular regard to this finding in complying with this condition". "If audiences are dissatisfied, the BBC must explain itself and put in place measures on how it will improve", the regulator said.

Specifically it needs to show 75 per cent British-made content on BBC One, Two, and Four, though during peak hours (18.30 to 22.30) that figure rises to 90 per cent on BBC One and Two.

The regulator also said it will require "more music from new and emerging United Kingdom artists" on Radio 1 and Radio 2.

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 United Kingdom audiences".

Children's channels CBBC and CBeebies must show at least 400 and 100 hours, respectively, of new, UK-commissioned programmes each year. Furthermore, the BBC will need to spent the same amount (on a per-head basis) on programming in each United Kingdom nation.

Kevin Bakhurst, Ofcom content and media policy director, said: "The BBC is the cornerstone of United Kingdom broadcasting".

A BBC spokesperson described the new rules as "tough and challenging", but agreed they would create a "distinctive BBC which serves and represents all audiences". These will be proportionate with each nation's population size, ensuring that the BBC is catering to each region with an appropriate amount of specialised content. "We will now get on with meeting these requirements and continuing to provide the world-class, creative BBC the public wants", they added.

Ofcom is also concentrating on workforce diversity, making the BBC "public ally accountable" for improving representation on and off camera.