BBC Radio Leeds is one of the 39 local radio stations of BBC (BBC Trust 2015a, para. 2). Despite the name, the station started serving the entire West Yorkshire very soon after its launch in 1968 (BBC Bradford and West Yorkshire 2009, para. 1-3). Its aim consists in providing the listeners with the information concerning “the five districts of Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield, Kirklees and Calderdale” (BBC Bradford and West Yorkshire 2009, para. 1). The second aim, which is as important as the first one, is to broadcast the “voice” of West Yorkshire, to give its people the opportunity to tell their stories (BBC Bradford and West Yorkshire 2009).
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BBC Radio Leeds as any other BBC local Radio operates “appropriate standard budgetary control procedures” (BBC Trust 2012, p. 44). Its expenditure is controlled by the Trust that seeks to increase the budget of the local stations.
The licence fee for Radio is £2.30 per month per household; this fee is set by the government (BBC 2015d, para. 3). BBC is proud of providing quality service for the money, and in order to do it, the six public purposes of BBC have been introduced by the Trust (BBC 2015c).
BBC Trust Radio Policy
BBC Trust is “the sovereign body within the BBC” that licenses all the BBC radio stations, performs the review of their content and quality, and considers the proposals for innovation (BBC Trust 2015c, par. 1; BBC Trust 2015a; BBC Trust 2015b).
The public purposes as suggested by the Trust include “sustaining citizenship and civil society, “promoting education and learning”, “stimulating creativity and cultural excellence”, “representing UK, its nations, regions, and communities”, “bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK”, “delivering to the public the benefit of emerging communications technologies and services” (BBC 2015e, para. 2-7).
According to BBC Trust (2015b), the key priorities of the radio include the improvement of the quality and diversity of content, and most of the efforts are directed at the achievement of these aims, both for paid and public services, which appears to summarise the Purposes. The Purposes demonstrate the fact that BBC acknowledges the importance of public media in the modern society and takes the responsibility for its actions; apart from that, BBC appears to be ready to perform every function that a mass media tool can fulfil.
The Purposes should be regarded as the guidelines for actions that require continuous improvement of BBC service. To achieve the Public Purposes, BBC provides the listeners with accurate and inspiring information about the UK and the world (BBC 2015e, para. 2-7). Another important aspect of the Trust’s radio strategy is its intention of encouraging its listeners to switch to digital radio, which is in consistency with government’s ambitions in this respect (Goddard 2010, para. 3-6). The BBC Trust (2015b) monitors the implementation of the Purposes by every BBC service.
BBC Radio Leeds and the Public Purposes
Being certified by the Trust, BBC Radio Leeds is expected to act in consistency with the Public Purposes. This involves all the actions mentioned above; by introducing the world to the Yorkshire and Yorkshire to the world, BBC Radio Leeds is fulfilling its part of the BBC Purposes (BBC 2015b).
In my opinion, even though the majority of the programmes of the station are aimed at the audience of the Yorkshire, those of them that are not devoted to the local news can be of interest for listeners all around the world. An example of such a programme is the One on One by Martin Kelner that includes conversations with people of various occupations. These discussions are very entertaining and occasionally even inspiring and educational which means that they are created in consistency with the aims and the Purposes. The episodes of this programme are available at the website BBC Radio Leeds (2015), where they are stored for 30 days for anyone to listen.
Mix of Programs
The BBC Radio Leeds offers “local news, traffic, travel and weather information” as well as “conversation, debate, music and entertainment” programmes (BBC 2015a, para. 1). The music programmes include “Yorkshire Brass, The Durbervilles folk and roots Show and BBC Introducing in West Yorkshire “; the sport ones are concerned with local teams in rugby, football, and cricket; the presenters that are “synonymous” with the station are “Harry Gration, Peter Levy and Alvin Blossom” (BBC 2015a, para. 3-6). The programmes can be found in the archive and podcast section; they are usually available for 30 days on the station’s website.
Strengths and Weaknesses
A major strength of BBC Radio Leeds is its experience: soon the station will be celebrating its fiftieth anniversary (BBC Bradford and West Yorkshire 2009, para. 1). This also means that the brand of the station is quite distinguished and popular; it must have been able to hold the listeners’ attention for so long.
The weaknesses of BBC Radio Leeds are not obvious unless one takes into account the threats that the station has to face. Being a local station, BBC Radio Leeds is limited in terms of listeners, sources and even themes. Still, this is not exactly a weakness but rather the condition of the station operation. The major threat is the existence of other radio stations that are capable of providing the information concerning the world outside Yorkshire (BBC Trust 2012). This factor serves to limit the audience of the station even further; at the same time, it cannot be denied that, for West Yorkshire BBC, Radio Leeds is a significant asset and the chance of making the world hear the “voice” of the region.
BBC 2015a, About BBC Radio Leeds. Web.
BBC 2015b, BBC Radio Leeds. Web.
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BBC 2015c, BBC Mission and Values. Web.
BBC 2015d, License Fee. Web.
BBC 2015e, Public Purposes. Web.
BBC Trust 2012, BBC Local Radio: Service review. Web.
BBC Trust 2015a, Radio. Web.
BBC Trust 2015b, Strategy. Web.
BBC Trust 2015c, Who We Are. Web.
BBC Bradford and West Yorkshire 2009, Never Mind the TV. Web.
BBC Radio Leeds 2015, One on One. Web.
Goddard, G 2010, BBC Trust chair notes “the absence of a coherent digital [radio] strategy”. Web.