BBC Trust says No to sports radio expansion proposal

The BBC Trust has today rejected a controversial proposal to extend the broadcasting hours of digital station BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, saying it would need to pass a Public Value Test if the proposals were to be taken further.

Due to the strong possibility that commercial radio rival TalkSPORT, which is launching its own offshoot station on national DAB next year, would be disadvantaged by the changes, it's widely seen that such a Public Value Test would fail.

The BBC had wanted to change BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra from a sports overspill station, to a regular station with a schedule of sport and magazine programmes from 9am to 7pm.

In addition to carrying overspill sports coverage from parent station 5 Live, BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra is also the home of BBC Radio 4 LW's Test Match Special on digital platforms.

In a statement issued by the BBC Trust this morning, it confirmed it had asked Ofcom to undertake an assessment of the impact of the BBC’s proposal on others in the market and Ofcom concluded talkSPORT could be particularly affected.  This led to the BBC Trust considering that the proposal would warrant a permanent change to 5 Live Sports Extra's service licence and would require a Public Value Test, effectively killing off the proposals, for now.

This is not the first time the BBC has suggested extending the role of BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, although it is the first time such plans have developed into a formal proposal to the BBC Trust.

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