BBC Radio 5 Live

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BBC Radio 5 Live
BBC Radio 5 Live.svg
Broadcast areaUnited Kingdom and Internationally via Satellite and BBC Sounds
Frequency MW: 693 kHz, 909 kHz, 990 kHz and on selected BBC Local Radio stations' frequencies overnight.
DAB: 12B
Freeview: 705
Freesat: 705
Sky (UK only): 0105
Virgin Media: 905
Virgin Media Ireland: 911
Astra 2E (28.2°E) satellite
Intelsat 901 (18°W) satellite
Slogan "The voice of the UK"
"On digital, BBC Sounds, smart speaker and online, this is BBC Radio 5 Live"
"Live news. Live sport."
"The World Cup Station"
"The Olympic Station"
"First for breaking news, and the best live sport"
Format News and sport
BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra
First air date
28 March 1994
Website BBC Radio 5 Live on BBC Sounds

BBC Radio 5 Live is the BBC's national radio service that broadcasts mainly news, sport, discussion, interviews and phone-ins. It is the principal BBC radio station covering sport in the United Kingdom, broadcasting virtually all major sports events staged in the UK or involving British competitors.


Radio 5 Live was launched in March 1994 as a repositioning of the original Radio 5, which was launched on 27 August 1990. [1] It is transmitted via analogue radio in AM on medium wave 693 and 909 kHz and digitally via digital radio, television and on the BBC Sounds service. Due to rights restrictions, coverage of some events (in particular live sport) is not available online or is restricted to UK addresses.

The station broadcasts from MediaCityUK in Salford in Greater Manchester [2] and is a department of the BBC North division.


First logo used from launch until 1997, from the 5 Live website BBC Radio 5 Live logo 1994 animated.gif
First logo used from launch until 1997, from the 5 Live website

The success of Radio 4 News FM during the first Gulf War (1991) led the BBC to propose the launch of a rolling-news service. Initially the plan was to broadcast a rolling news service on BBC Radio 4's long wave frequency; but this met with considerable opposition, both internally and externally, [3] so the BBC decided to close BBC Radio 5 and replace the old service's educational and children's programmes with a new news service, whilst retaining the sports programmes. BBC Radio 5 Live began its 24-hour service at 5 am on Monday 28 March 1994. The first voice on air, Jane Garvey, later went on to co-present the breakfast and drive-time shows with Peter Allen. The Times described the launch as "slipp[ing] smoothly and confidently into a routine of informative banter" [4] and The Scotsman as "professionalism at its slickest". [5]

The news of the first day was dominated by the fatal stabbing at Hall Garth School near Middlesbrough, the first of many major incidents which the network covered live as they unfolded.

The tone of the channel, engaging and more relaxed than contemporary BBC output, was the key to the channel's success and set the model for other BBC News services later in the decade. The first audiences were some four million, with a record audience of six and a quarter million. Among the key editorial staff involved in the design of programme formats and recruitment of staff for the new station were Sara Nathan, later editor of Channel 4 News, and Tim Luckhurst, later editor of The Scotsman newspaper and currently Professor of Journalism at the University of Kent. [6]

2000-2007 Five live logo BBC Radio Five Live 2000-2007.svg
2000–2007 Five live logo

In 2000, the station was rebranded with a new logo which would remain with the station for another seven years. In addition, on 2 February 2002 a companion station, BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, was launched as a digital-only service to complement the range of sport and to avoid clashes; previously BBC Local Radio stations and the long-wave frequency of BBC Radio 4 were used. [7] Throughout this period, Five Live gained several awards including five Sony Awards in 2005; the single gold award was for its coverage of the 2004 Asian tsunami in the News Story Award category alongside another four silver awards and six nominations. The station also began to further its boundaries with the publication of the Radio Five Live Sporting Yearbook. [8] In August 2007, BBC Radio 5 Live was given a new logo in line with the rest of the BBC Radio network, [9] and a new background design featuring diagonal parallel lines.

In 2008, the BBC announced that the station would move to MediaCityUK in Salford. [10]

In 2017/18, it was noted the station not only remained as having the fourth highest cost-per-user of all the BBC radio output, but whose costs also increased – rising from 2.3p per hour the previous year to 2.5p per hour, therefore equal to 1Xtra. The audience Appreciation Index figure did not increase, remaining at 79.9; and the average length of time spent on the channel fell from 06:41 to 06:34 – the fourth lowest fall of all of the BBC's radio stations. [11]


BBC Radio 5 Live broadcasts in AM on the medium wave frequencies 693 and 909 kHz nationally, with the frequency 990 kHz used in Cardigan Bay; these frequencies had been utilised by BBC Radio 5 and were used by BBC Radio 2 previously. Uniquely to the BBC Radio network, it is the only station that is neither purely digital (such as 1Xtra, Radio 4 Extra and 6 Music) nor broadcast in analogue FM. It is however broadcast in stereo on FM & DAB on BBC Local Radio overnight, usually from 1 am until BBC Local Radio commences morning broadcasts, usually from 5 am. BBC Radio 5 Live is also broadcast on BBC Radio Cymru in stereo from midnight until 5:30 am, on BBC Radio Scotland from 1 am until 6 am and on BBC Radio Ulster from midnight until 6:30 am. In addition to the AM output, the station also broadcasts digitally in mono on DAB Digital Radio, and on television through satellite services such as Sky, cable services such as Virgin Media, DTT services such as Freeview, Freesat (on Channel 705) and through IPTV. The station also broadcasts programmes live through the BBC iPlayer Radio website, which allows replaying programmes up to a month after the original broadcast. The service is also available on the Radioplayer internet site partially run by the BBC. Before the launch of digital broadcasting, BBC Radio 5 Live had broadcast on analogue satellite with near-FM quality.[ citation needed ]

For many years, the station operated from four floors within the News Centre at BBC Television Centre, [12] because of the close connections between the station and BBC News, and the co-location of BBC Sport. However, as part of the corporation's plan to sell off Television Centre, the decision was made in 2008 to move BBC Radio 5 Live to the new broadcast hub at MediaCityUK. [10] The move itself began in September 2011 and took two months. [13] The new studios occupy a single floor in Quay House, with two studios large enough for several guests and a separate studio for large groups. The station continues to have a studio presence in London, with Studio 51A at BBC Broadcasting House in London used for programmes and interviews made in London for the station such as "Kermode and Mayo's Film Review". [14]

List of programmes broadcast on 5 Live



BBC Radio 5 Live at MediaCityUK BBC Radio 5 Live @ Quay House, MediaCityUK.jpg
BBC Radio 5 Live at MediaCityUK

BBC Radio 5 Live's remit includes broadcasting rolling news and transmitting news as it breaks. It offers news bulletins every half an hour, apart from during live sports commentaries. The BBC's policy for major breaking news events revolves around a priority list. With UK news, the correspondent first records a "generic minute" summary (for use by all stations and channels); the subsequent priority is to report on Radio 5 Live, then the BBC News Channel, and then any other programmes that are on air. For foreign news, first a "generic minute" is recorded, then reports are to World Service radio, then the reporter talks to any other programmes that are on air. [15] [ needs update ]

Due to COVID-19, the hourly news bulletins were shared with BBC Radio 2 from April 2020. Three minute bulletins are broadcast on the hour, with extended five minute bulletins at 06:00, 07:00, 08:00, 13:00 and 17:00 on weekdays, at 07:00 and 08:00 on Saturdays and at 06:00, 07:00, 08:00 and 09:00 on Sundays.

Half-hour news headlines are mostly read by presenters and sports journalists, although newsreaders are used during weekday daytime programming between 10:30 and 15:30 and during 5 Live Sport evening and weekend programming.


BBC Radio 5 Live broadcasts an extremely wide range of sports and covers all the major sporting events, mostly under its flagship sports banner 5 Live Sport . Whilst football commentaries form the majority of live commentaries during the football season, the range of events covered by the station include:


Years servedController
1997–1999 Roger Mosey
2000–2007 Bob Shennan
2008–2012 Adrian Van Klaveren
2013 – September 2019Jonathan Wall
2019–presentHeidi Dawson [16]

5 Live Sports Extra

As 5 Live cannot accommodate all of the sports which they have rights to broadcast, some are covered on sister station Sports Extra, including:

Sports Extra typically emphasizes full broadcasts of Premier League and Home Nations football, if games overlap each other. Five Live carries the first-choice match in such cases.

Despite the fact that commercial stations (such as Sky Sports) have acquired the vast majority of sports television broadcasting rights in the UK, the BBC remains dominant in radio sport with BBC Radio 5 Live and its local radio stations. Its main commercial rival for radio sports rights is TalkSport.

When BBC 5 Live Sports Extra is on air on DAB, BBC Radio 4 DAB goes into mono as it has to hand over 48kbit/s to the Sports channel and its bit rate drops from 128kbit/s Stereo to 80kbit/s mono. Radio 4's FM service is unaffected however and continues in stereo.


In January 2013, BBC Radio Five Live was nominated for the Responsible Media of the Year award at the British Muslim Awards. [17]

See also

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  2. Radio 5 Live move to Salford delayed, 19 March 2010
  3. "Jenny Abramsky Oxford lecture two" (Press release). BBC. 3 April 2007.
  4. Frean, Alexandra (29 March 1994). "Radio's new voice greets the dawn". The Times. London.
  5. McAlpine, Joan (29 March 1994). "Alive and kicking". The Scotsman. Edinburgh.
  6. "Our Staff" Archived 2009-03-10 at the Wayback Machine . University of Kent.
  7. The Many Lives of BBC Radio Sport Transdiffusion
  8. Radio Five Live sporting yearbook 2005 Archived 2011-07-21 at the Wayback Machine Barnsley Libraries, ISBN   0-00-721598-3
  9. "New logos for BBC Radio – cool or balls?". The Guardian. London. 8 August 2007.
  10. 1 2 "BBC appoints Head of External Affairs to world-class media project" (Press release). BBC. 21 July 2008. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  11. "BBC Annual Report 2017/18" (PDF).
  12. Smith, Nigel. "A peek inside 5 live's new HQ". BBC Radio 5 Live Blog. BBC. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  13. Van-Klaveren, Adrian. "The Salford move and the latest RAJARs". BBC Radio 5 Live Blog. BBC. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  14. Cooper, Will. "Tony Livesey's guide to the 5 live studios". BBC Radio 5 Live Blog. BBC. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  15. "Editorial Processes – How BBC News Works". 22 January 2007. Retrieved 19 June 2007.
  17. "Winners honoured at British Muslim Awards". Asian Image. 31 January 2013. Retrieved 1 November 2015.