11. Memorandum submitted by
This is the BBC's submission to the Home Affairs
Committee inquiry into young black people and the criminal justice
The Committee are conducting an inquiry into
young black people and the criminal justice systeminvestigating
the causes of young black people's overrepresentation in the criminal
justice system and solutions to it. As part of this they are looking
into what may lie behind the apparent overrepresentation of young
black males in violent crimes, robbery and firearms offencesboth
as victims and perpetrators. The remit of the next session is
to discuss the extent and nature of links between music and criminal
behaviour, and the extent to which this is, or should be taken
into account when making content decisions.
THE BBC SUBMISSION
Sets out the public service remit
for BBC Radio 1 and its sister station 1Xtra with regard to the
range of programming and music output.
Provides quantitative evidence regarding
the broadcasting of rap and other black music genres on BBC Radio
1 and 1Xtra.
Outlines the BBC's editorial guidelines
and standards with regard to programme output.
Gives relevant details of the public
service content and outreach activities of BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra.
RADIO 1 AND
This document aims to give background information
on the public purpose and editorial processes of BBC Radio 1 and
the BBC digital radio station 1Xtra, especially as they relate
to contemporary rap music. It includes statistical evidence on
the amount of rap music played, audience profile information and
details of the public service value and outreach work of both
networks. A brief summary of the history and context of rap music
is included as an appendix.
1. Radio 1's public service remit and programming
The UK has a rich and successful contemporary
music culture. For nearly 40 years, the station has played an
important role in aiding the strength and innovation of popular
music in this country. It aims to offer an exciting, high-quality
service for young audiences. It is committed to playing the best
new music and delivering a comprehensive range of live studio
sessions, concerts and festival broadcasts. The network aims to
cover all the significant youth music genres with a wide-ranging
playlist and a diverse team of specialist DJs. It also delivers
tailored speech output including news, documentaries and advice
campaigns with integrated online and interactive services.
Extract from BBC Annual Report 2006:
"Radio 1 plays a key role in enabling the
BBC to reach young audiences and the success of the station is
critical to the success of BBC Radio as a whole. We are pleased
that the new strategy we approved for Radio 1 in 2003 continues
to bear fruit. The station has reversed the annual declines in
audiences recorded between 2000 and 2003."
The network has assembled an unmatched line-up
of specialist music programmes, unique in popular music radio.
They reflect the best new music across a wide range of genres
and encourage new talent through sessions and live performance.
Radio 1's specialist programmes are presented by DJs who are acknowledged
as authentic experts. They are scheduled in the evenings and late
at night, and attract audiences who are knowledgeable about specific
Radio 1 has 27 different specialist music shows,
accounting for 74 hours of programming each week. Tim Westwood's
Saturday night show is dedicated solely to rap and hip-hop; Ras
Kwame features UK artists from rap and similar genres; while another
three shows feature rap on a regular basis ("Tim Westwood's
In New Music We Trust"; "The 1Xtra Take Over with Ace
& Vis" and the monthly "In New DJs We Trust"
show with Professor Green.)
In total, rap accounts for around 12% of all
specialist music on Radio 1 in an average week.
Analysis of daytime programming in 2006 for
this document found rap accounted for around 9% of the music played.
This compares to 11% r'n'b, 20% dance and 33% rock. It should
be stressed however that the rap tracks featured in daytime tend
to be more pop-influenced.
2. Radio 1's Audience Profile
Each week, Radio 1 is listened to
by more than 10 million people in the UK.
3.5 million listeners are in the
15-24 age range, meaning 44% of the UK's young adults listen to
Radio 1 in an average week.
There are 1.6 million black people
in the UK (2% of the population)245,000 (15%) listen to
Radio 1 each week.
Radio 1 attracts 96,000 black people
aged 15-24. The majority are outside London and the large urban
centres, which is counter to distribution of the UK black population,
but probably reflects the fact that available radio competition
for this audience is higher in London and other cities.
Radio 1's rap programmes reach 976,000
listeners, nearly half of whom are women. 88% of listeners are
white, 6% are black.
Overall Radio 1 is listened to by
22.6% of young black men each weekwith 7.5% (13,000) hearing
some of the networks' specialist rap programming.
3. 1Xtra's public service remit and programming
In the late 1990's, the BBC recognised a pressing
audience issuethe lack of connection with young fans of
black music, especially those from ethnic minorities. Black music
genresrap, r'n'b, garage, reggae etchad become increasingly
popular in the UK and around the world, appealing both to specialist
niche audiences and to the mainstream. Radio 1, as described above,
has a remit to cover the full range of contemporary music genres
and therefore could not offer sufficient focus for these audiences.
In addition there were relatively few commercial services addressing
this audience, apart from pirate stationswhich had poor
editorial and technical standards. In 2002, 1Xtra was launched
as a digital service, on DAB radio, TV and onlinewith a
brief to play the best new music from all the relevant genres,
and a specific commitment to support UK black music. It also had
a target that 10% of programming would be news, documentaries
and social action output. It has achieved its stated launch aimsattracting
an audience that is younger than any other BBC radio service and
far more likely to be black or Asian. It has also achieved some
significant success in supporting young British artistsmost
notably Mercury Award winner Dizzee Rascal and the young rapper
Sway, who won Best Hip-Hop Act at the 2005 MOBO awards.
Extract from BBC Annual Report 2006:
"1Xtra has continued to build its confidence,
ambition and reputationand to reach audiences the BBC has
traditionally found it very hard to attract ... 1Xtra's audiences
are rising: in 2005-06, average 15-minute weekly reach to adults
aged 15+ was 0.36 million people or 0.7% (0.31 million/0.6% in
1Xtra has 30 different specialist shows, accounting
for 79 hours of programming a week. Five shows are dedicated to
rap, a total of 14 hours (18%).
Analysis of daytime programming found 36% of
music on average was hip-hop (27% US and 9% UK). This compares
to 33% r'n'b and 9% dancehall, with the station also broadcasting
significant amounts of other black music genres, including drum
and bass and garage.
4. 1Xtra's Audience Profile
1Xtra reaches 430,000 people each
week220,000 (51%) of them are aged 15-24.
68% of the audience are white, 20%
black and 12% Asian.
1Xtra's rap output reaches 126,000
listenersa third of them women.
Overall 1Xtra is listened to by 17.6%
of young black men each weekwith just over 8% (14,000)
hearing some of the networks specialist rap programming.
5. The BBC's editorial process
As with all BBC content, Radio 1 and 1Xtra programmes
are subject to the BBC's published Editorial Guidelines.
Under the section on "harm and offence",
the guidelines address several issues relevant to rap and other
"The BBC aims to reflect the world as it
is, including all aspects of the human experience and the realities
of the natural world. In doing so, we balance our right to broadcast
and publish innovative and challenging content appropriate to
each of our services with our responsibility to protect the vulnerable
We signpost and label challenging material to
ensure our audiences have enough information on which to judge
whether content is suitable for themselves or their children ...
We should judge the suitability of content for
our audiences, including children, in relation to the expectations
of the likely audience at a particular time on a particular day,
and in relation to the nature of the services as well as the nature
of the content.
What is the likely composition of the
audience, including the likely number and age range of children
in the audience, taking into account school time, weekends and
Does the talent, slot, genre or service
carry pre-existing expectations which may be challenged by the
We should normally play edited versions (`broadcast
versions') of music which would otherwise feature unsuitable material,
including offensive language or violent content, for mainstream
daytime audiences. At night and in specialist music programmes,
the original `adult' version may be editorially justified."
All programming on Radio 1 and 1Xtra is compiled
and produced to these criteria. On daytime shows aimed at a more
mainstream audience, all tracks are checked before selection for
strong language and potentially offensive content. If necessary,
edits are made. Late at night, on specialist shows aimed at an
audience who understand the context and style of the genre, stronger
content may be acceptable.
Any proposed playing of tracks with the most
offensive language is referred by the production teams to a senior
editorial figure at the network, and approval, if given, is in
writing. Clear audience warnings are inserted in specialist shows
about any strong language or content.
Extensive audience research carried out before
the launch of 1Xtra showed that these procedures and polices are
broadly approved of by listeners. Most understood the need to
protect younger listeners from offensive language or content,
and accepted that material would be "censored" at times
when they were more likely to be listening. However, the overwhelming
view was that such material, if editorially valid and of suitable
quality, could be played late at night to fans of the genre. Although
no formal watershed exists in radio, the concept of the television
watershed was understood by the audience and similar principles
were thought appropriate for music radio services.
Research carried out for the BBC's Programme
Strategy Review echoed these findings. It concluded:
almost never complain about content
on TV or Radio;
are unlikely to be shocked by sex
or violence; and
have strong feelings of self-responsibility.
They don't want anybody else to protect them.
needs to talk to them straight;
to be an engaged participant rather
than a distant expert; and
must uphold values of frankness,
honesty and authenticity.
There have been no upheld complaints, either
by OFCOM or the Broadcasting Complaints Commission, against rap
programming on Radio 1 or 1Xtra.
6. Public service content and outreach activities
of Radio 1 and 1Xtra
Young people face some unique challenges as
they grow up, and over many years Radio 1 and 1Xtra have developed
and delivered a range of Social Action campaigns and content that
give credible information, and tackle relevant audience issues,
eg drugs, relationships, sexual health or exam choices.
Although the overwhelming majority of the audiences
to Radio 1 and 1Xtra are unlikely to be involved in the criminal
justice system, crime and/or the fear of crime is a significant
issue for them. Radio 1 and 1Xtra have for many years recognised
a responsibility to provide information in this area, such as
documentaries and tailored news output that stimulates engagement
with the issues. They also regularly support initiatives, or music,
which can lead to positive involvement in music and positive social
In the last year 1Xtra in particular supported
major campaigns from the Metropolitan Police (Operation Trident)
and the Government funded Rhyme4Respect. On editorial merit the
soundtrack to Operation Trident's "Stop The Guns" campaign,
Roll Deep's "Bad Man", received high rotation on 1Xtra,
with its accompanying, hard-hitting video featured on the station's
website. The track offers a powerful warning to those who may
be seduced by the perceived benefits of crime and violence. Rhyme4Respect
was a nationwide lyric competition which offered young writers,
rappers and street poets a chance to demonstrate their lyrical
skills and encouraged them to think and talk about issues in a
positive and credible way.
During 2006's knife amnesty a Radio 1 documentary
tackled the issue in a programme called "Knives Out",
which examined, among other aspects, the ease of buying potentially
deadly weapons. 1Xtra's "Young, Armed and Terrified"
heard from many teenagers who have been affected by crime. Listeners
to both stations were able to hear from French rappers in Paris
following the civil unrest and rioting there, reflecting on the
social environment that many say led to the outbreak of violence
in France. 1Xtra's "Hip Hop in the Holy Land" heard
from Jewish and Arab rappers who use their music and lyrics to
express their perspective on the situation.
The news output of both networks aims to encourage
young audiences to engage in issues and debate, often literally
through text or website interaction. In the run up to the 2005
General Election, for example, 1Xtra ran an online competition
for budding MCs to create rhymes on topics such as education,
crime and immigration. The best were featured on air and a winner
voted for by the audience. Radio 1 put relevant questions from
its young audience to the party leaders.
Social action campaigns aim to give impartial
and relevant information that encourages positive behaviour. For
example, the UK leads all Europe in unwanted pregnancies and in
sexually transmitted diseases, so Radio 1 and 1Xtra teamed up
with other media organisations in 2006 to undertake the "Bare
All Sex Survey"the biggest ever survey on young people
and sex. This led to a series of programmes that included discussions
on why some young people reject condoms, advice on what to do
if pressurised to have sex and debate on other aspects of sexual
health. 1Xtra also took part in the pan-BBC "Read All About
It" campaign in April 2006, visiting Stoke Heath Young Offenders
Institution in Shropshire to look at how some inmates had been
turning their lives around through education.
The work Radio 1 and 1Xtra undertakes in the
community, as well as both stations' live events programmes, makes
an additional positive contribution. 1Xtra has a commitment to
stage at least 50 live events a year around the UK and, like Radio
1, often focuses on areas underserved by musical events. A good
example of how high quality music events can transcend divisive
social issues is Radio 1's Big Weekend in Derry in 2004 which
demonstrated the many benefits to the community, with 10,000 young
people from both Catholic and Protestant communities celebrating
two days of live music in an atmosphere of extraordinary peaceful
excitement. The Deputy Mayor of Derry claimed:
"It gives them (the young people) a positive
attitude to come together and just get loving together".
1Xtra played a similar role in Hackney (NE London)
last year with the Urban Classics initiative, creating another
unique event, that brought together some of the biggest names
in UK black music with the BBC Concert Orchestra. It was a ground-breaking
live concert combining grime, hip-hop and classical music, demonstrating
how music can build cultural understanding and cross almost any
1Xtra has worked extensively in the community
on various projects since its launchactivities have included
schools tours, work experience programmes and question and answer
sessions. The station arranged for Bob Marley's son Damian to
speak to 100 college students from underprivileged areas in the
Midlands last year. Amongst his themes were the importance of
education, positivity and responsibility. Individual presenters
also undertake work in the community on their own accordRadio
1's Tim Westwood for example has been a patron of the radio station
at Feltham Young Offenders Institution for many years.
Music is core to the Radio 1 and 1Xtra offer
and music is very important to all young audiences, including
those from ethnic minorities for whom genres such as hip hop or
grime are a passion. Music is also one of the key currencies of
the new digital universe, with new technologies beginning to displace
the more traditional ways of accessing it. Commercial television
and radio, pirate stations and the BBC's services remain very
important, but fast internet connections and MP3 file sharing
now means that distribution of music is, to an extent, far more
in the hands of the audience. This is why both Radio 1 and 1Xtra
have put such an emphasis on its digital provision in recent years.
Music making itself has benefited from the digital revolution,
expensive studio time has given way to bedroom software, UK hip
hop and grime artists have made much use of this in creating their
music and social networking sites such as MySpace are a simple
launch pad for new materialthis new and fast advancing
world throws into sharp relief any notion of "top down"
control of music making, distribution and listening.
Music is being made in home studios and in the
UK a high proportion of the black music genres (hip-hop and grime)
emerge from particular areas of the country, by and large deprived
inner city areas (particularly London). The music and lyrics reflect
life from that perspective and often depict harsh realities; family
breakdown, drug use, violence or the contrast between wealth and
poverty, as well as the universal themes such as boy/girl relationships.
With the support of 1Xtra and Radio 1 high quality artists such
as Dizzee Rascal, Ty, Sway or Wiley can break out of these underground
music scenes and be successful with mainstream young audiences.
The artists' life perspective is understood and the music enjoyed
by wider audiences. The production sounds and styles of so called
"street music" influence pop music in general, as street
fashions influence the department store. Many who have worked
with 1Xtra and Radio 1 such as DJs, live events promoters or youth
workers believe passionately that music-making is a powerful and
positive opportunity for young people, giving a focus for creativity
and possibilities for a career. Furthermore music also gives a
powerful platform for many young artists who want to highlight
the futility of a life of crime, violence or drug use. There are
dozens of "conscious" records made which have been very
successful with the audience: including Blak Twang's "GCSE",
where GCSE was treated as "Ghetto Children Sex Education",
dealing with safe sex; Tor's "Striving", a track from
a female MC tackling homelessness and unemployment; Skinnyman's
"Council Estate Of Mind", which included commentary
on prostitution and joyriding; and So Solid Crew's "Broken
Silence", which featured the line: "we're trying to
demote the violence, not promote the violence".
There are, on the other hand, tracks that contain
material that requires careful consideration, 1Xtra decided against
daytime play for two of the biggest grime tracks of 2006: Wiley's
"Gangsterz", a track describing his relationship with
the many different gangs in his area of London and Jammer's "Murkle
Man", which was a hit in underground clubs, but featured
aggressive and violent lyrics.
As described earlier in this document the BBC's
Editorial Guidelines, under which Radio 1 and 1Xtra operate, ensure
programmes act responsibly on a case-by-case basis when considering
which tracks to feature, and this means a careful balance between
tracks that might be appropriate within specialist programmes
and the risk of offence to more casual daytime listeners.
The overall challenge in connecting with young
audiences is to make the programmes authentic and non-patronising,
whilst exercising careful editorial judgements.
111 All figures are latest available RAJAR figures
for listening amongst adults, 15+, July-September 2006. Back
All figures are latest available RAJAR figures for listening
amongst adults, 15+, July-September, 2006. Back