BBC 5 Live responds to Mark Pougatch exit controversy: ‘There is no agenda’

The radio station has rejected claims that it has an "agenda" against long-serving broadcasters in a bid to appeal to younger listeners

Mark Pougatch

BBC 5 Live has rejected suggestions that long-serving Mark Pougatch was “dropped” due to a broader aim to engage younger listeners.

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Responding to a RadioTimes.com request for comment on Friday 10th January, a BBC spokesperson rejected the idea that there is “an agenda against one particular group,” despite Pougatch himself stating that his exit “was not [his] decision” in a Twitter post on Thursday.

“Thank you very much for all the kind messages, from listeners, friends & colleagues. I’m very touched & appreciative people took the time. Just so we’re clear this was not my decision but on we go,” he wrote.

The BBC spokesperson reiterated that Pougatch “decided to move on” following his “massive contribution” to the station over the past 25 years.

“Mark is a brilliant broadcaster who has been an integral part of 5 Live Sport for many years,” the spokesperson said. “Recently he has been presenting fewer programmes for us because his other broadcasting commitments have grown and he has now decided to move on. We wish him well for the future and thank him for his massive contribution.”

Pougatch’s departure follows hot on the heels of the announcement that fellow long-serving correspondent Cornelius Lysacht is also leaving the station.

“Over the last year, some of our longest serving presenters have chosen to leave of their own accord while we have also refreshed parts of our line-up. Like many in the media, we want to better reflect the country but reject any suggestion there is an agenda against one particular group,” the BBC spokesperson told RadioTimes.com.

Last year the BBC’s director of radio and education James Purnell announced that engaging a “younger audience” would be one of his top priorities.

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“It may mean some surprises, some content that is not for everyone, but to me this only shows how little variety there once was in spoken content on the BBC,” he said in a speech last May. “Besides, if the tastes of the younger generation do not offend the sensibilities of their elders, something would seem pretty amiss to me.”