BBC set new comedy quota after viewers say its shows are too traditional

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The BBC has been set new quotas for comedy after viewers complained the broadcaster’s output was too traditional and risk-averse.

Regulator Ofcom has ordered the corporation to air a total of at least 300 hours of comedy programmes, some in peak time, combined on BBC1 and BBC2, every year.

Current BBC comedies include WIA, a remake of Porridge which divided viewers, and the flatmate sitcom Josh.

Ofcom said its research identified comedy as “an area of particular weakness” for the BBC.

Hugh Bonneville and and Sarah Parish in W1A (Jack Barnes/BBC)
Hugh Bonneville and and Sarah Parish in W1A (Jack Barnes/BBC)

Its new provision is designed to “safeguard the provision of comedy” on the BBC’s flagship channels in the wake of BBC3’s move online.

The quota includes repeats and acquisitions.

“Respondents pointed to Ofcom’s deliberative research, which identified BBC comedy as too traditional and risk-averse,” Ofcom said.

“We expect the BBC to have particular regard to this finding in complying with this condition.

Porridge
Porridge starring Kevin Bishop (BBC Studios)

“We consider that setting a condition for comedy on BBC television is important to ensure continued representation on the medium.”

The rules are part of a new operating licence for the broadcaster, the first since Ofcom took over regulating the BBC.

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