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In an era of so-called #fakenews, who does the public trust? Account Manager Sarah Bartlett listens in…

Ninety four years ago, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) went live to the nation, first with one channel, then two and later a host of other broadcast and online platforms. It’s had its fair share of scandals during that time but new figures recently released (08 February 2017) suggest that its reputation as a source of credible news has remained intact.

The latest Radio Joint Audience Research (Rajar) figures reveal that BBC radio stations increased their listenership by 240,000 in the fourth quarter of 2016 – more than all other commercial radio stations put together. Compare this to the second quarter of the same year, where commercial radio stations had half a million more listeners tuning in than the BBC.

So what changed? The rise of ‘fake news’, ‘post-truth politics’ and ‘alternative facts’ in the last six to nine months may have a part to play. Largely playing out on online news, commercial broadcast stations and via social media, has the growing sense of distrust in these forms of media sent digital natives and digital immigrants alike scurrying back to the media mediums and brands of their youth?

The figures seems to suggest that they might. The BBC’s core mission, as set out by its governing body the BBC Trust, to ‘inform, educate and entertain’ seems more relevant – and resonant – than ever. What remains to be seen is whether the Beeb can hold on to its new listeners over the longer term.


Freshwater is an independent communications consultancy, delivering diverse public relations and marketing campaigns across private, public and not-for-profit sectors for clients across the UK.


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