BBC Radio 5 Live

"Five Live" redirects here. For other uses, see Five Live (disambiguation).
BBC Radio 5 Live
Broadcast area United Kingdom
Slogan "On digital 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"
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
First air date 28 March 1994
Format News and sport
Language(s) English
Audience share 3.5% (September 2016, RAJAR[1])
Owner BBC

HTTP progressive Streams

HLS Streams

HDS Streams


BBC Radio 5 Live (also known as just 5 Live) is the BBC's national radio service that specialises in live BBC News, phone-ins, interviews and sports commentaries. It is the principal 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.[2] It is transmitted via analogue radio in AM on medium wave 693 and 909 kHz and digitally via digital radio, television and via an Internet stream. Due to rights restrictions, coverage of some events (in particular live sport) is not available on-line or is restricted to UK addresses.

The station broadcasts from MediaCityUK in Salford[3] and is a department of the BBC North division.


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 a rolling-news service. After many arguments, both internal and external,[4] the BBC closed their fifth radio network, BBC Radio 5, and replaced the old service's educational and children's programmes with a new news service, whilst retaining the sports programmes. The new BBC Radio 5 Live began its 24-hour service at 05:00 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"[5] and The Scotsman as "professionalism at its slickest".[6]

The news of the first day was dominated by the fatal stabbing at Hall Garth School in Cleveland, 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.[7]

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.[8] 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.[9] In August 2007, BBC Radio 5 Live was given a new logo in line with the rest of the BBC Radio network,[10] and a new background design featuring diagonal parallel lines.

In 2008 the BBC announced that the station would move to MediaCityUK in Salford.[11]


BBC Radio 5 Live broadcasts in AM on the medium wave frequencies 693 and 909 kHz nationally, with the frequency 990 kHz used at 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. In addition to the AM output, the station also broadcasts digitally on DAB Digital Radio, and on television through satellite services such as Sky, cable services such as Virgin Media, DTT services such as Freeview and through IPTV. The station also broadcasts programmes live through the BBC Online website and the BBC iPlayer sub-site, which allows replaying programmes up to a week 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.

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.[11] 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.[14]


BBC Radio 5 Live at MediaCityUK

BBC Radio 5 Live's remit includes broadcasting rolling news and transmitting news as it breaks. 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]

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:

Weekday programmes

Weekend programmes

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.


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


  1. Listening Figures - Quarterly Listening RAJAR
  2. "Radio launches 2". Radiomusications. Transdiffusion. Archived from the original on 25 August 2010. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  3. Radio 5 Live move to Salford delayed, 19 March 2010
  4. "Jenny Abramsky Oxford lecture two". BBC Press Office. 3 April 2007.
  5. Frean, Alexandra (29 March 1994). "Radio's new voice greets the dawn". The Times. Times Newspapers.
  6. McAlpine, Joan (29 March 1994). "Alive and kicking". The Scotsman.
  7. Our Staff University of Kent
  8. The Many Lives of BBC Radio Sport Transdiffusion
  9. Radio Five Live sporting yearbook 2005 Barnsley Libraries, ISBN 0-00-721598-3
  10. New logos for BBC Radio - cool or balls?, 8 August 2007
  11. 1 2 "BBC appoints Head of External Affairs to world-class media project". BBC Press Office. 21 July 2008. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  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.
  16. Wake up to Money goes on the road 5 live Blog, BBC, 21 October 2009
  17. "Winners honoured at British Muslim Awards". Asian Image. 31 January 2013. Retrieved 1 November 2015.

External links

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