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BBC Quietly Butchers News Bulletins On Greg James Radio 1 Show

EXCLUSIVE: The BBC has quietly cut by two-thirds the length of news bulletins on Greg James‘ Radio 1 breakfast show, one of the UK broadcaster’s most important ways of reaching young people.

Newsbeat updates on Breakfast with Greg James have been slashed from three minutes to just one minute this week, with the BBC declining to provide a reason for the change.

BBC insiders are concerned about peak-listening news bulletins being butchered, with one person telling Deadline that they “can’t understand how it can be defended.”

There is suspicion that the change has been made in a naked attempt to keep hold of listeners in the week Capital launched a revamped breakfast show with former Radio 1 DJ Jordan North.

The BBC declined to comment on whether shorter bulletins are a tactical short-term switch or a more strategic permanent change. “Not a great look either way,” said an insider.

The BBC made a promise to protect Radio 1’s news output under changes made to the corporation’s operating licence by Ofcom last year.

Radio 1 was moved to an annual news quota of at least 280 hours a year, whereas previously the station was expected to broadcast at least an hour of news a day.

As part of the regulatory update, the BBC said it had “no plans” to change its Radio 1 news output. Ofcom said it expected the BBC to “continue with its current provision.”

Radiocentre, commercial radio’s industry trade body, lobbied against the changes, arguing that they could result in Radio 1 broadcasting “less news overall.”

A commercial radio insider said the BBC had a duty to explain the shortened breakfast bulletins, particularly at a time when there are concerns about the publicly-funded broadcaster treading on private sector toes.

The BBC announced in February that it will launch brand extensions of stations including Radio 1, while the corporation is also planning to carry ads around podcasts on third-party platforms, such as Spotify.

Radiocentre said it was evidence of the BBC “interfering with the market and failing to provide distinct public value.”

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