Insights Ofcom consults on market position of BBC Sounds


Ofcom is consulting on our provisional views on the market position and impact of BBC Sounds.

BBC Sounds is a streaming media and audio download service that includes live radio, audio-on-demand, and podcasts. The service is now established within the BBC’s audio offer, so Ofcom says that it is appropriate to take stock of BBC Sounds’ market position and impact. Ofcom sought evidence and information from its competitors and other interested parties to inform its view.

Having carefully considered this feedback and its own evidence, Ofcom’s provisional view is that there are no reasonable grounds to believe BBC Sounds is currently having a significant adverse impact on fair and effective competition.

Ofcom says that the evidence suggests that commercial radio has been more successful at attracting online listeners than BBC Sounds. It also suggests that listeners to BBC Sounds use multiple platforms (more so than listeners to other online platforms), that the UK podcast sector has a wide range of non-BBC content, and that podcast producers are able to generate revenue.

Ofcom says that it nonetheless expects greater transparency from the BBC around its plans and future strategy for the service. It also expects improvements to how it measures BBC Sounds’ performance to demonstrate how it helps fulfil the BBC’s Mission and Public Purposes. The consultation seeks views on the information currently provided by the BBC and how that might be improved.

Ofcom says that it plans to address questions about the future regulation of BBC Sounds in its first periodic review of the BBC, and Ofcom’s work on how the BBC’s Operating Licence should evolve. This will include how the BBC’s online services, including BBC Sounds, should be captured.

Ofcom is inviting views and evidence from interested parties on its provisional findings by 29 June 2021. It aims to publish its statement in the autumn. To access the consultation, click here.