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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 May 2006, 16:11 GMT 17:11 UK
BBC staff asked to form audiences
Anthony Kiedis of Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Red Hot Chili Peppers played at BBC Television Centre in April
The BBC has appealed to staff to make up the numbers in studio audiences after it found it was breaking the law by hosting shows at Television Centre.

E-mails have been sent to staff asking them to form the studio audiences for shows such as Top of the Pops.

Television studios need to be licensed if the public is admitted to events featuring live music.

The corporation is in the process of obtaining a premises licence to cover the complex in west London.

The situation emerged after a Red Hot Chili Peppers show held in the forecourt of Television Centre last month, as part of a recording for Top of the Pops.

Public entertainment

The 2003 Licensing Act, which came into force last year, requires some public entertainment to be licensed.

At the time of the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert, the BBC said it had originally been advised that it did not require a licence. Studio audiences have been admitted to the building since it opened in 1960.

But following discussions with Hammersmith and Fulham Council, the local authority which covers Television Centre, it has been advised that a licence was necessary.

A BBC statement said most programme production at the Shepherd's Bush complex would continue as usual.

"The majority of BBC programmes will be entirely unaffected but we may need to make some changes to a few studio shows involving audiences," it said.

But staff members are being asked to make up the studio audience for shows such as Top of the Pops and Strictly Dance Fever until the situation is resolved.

"We're asking for your help, and also hoping we can offer you some fun at the same time," director general Mark Thompson told staff in an e-mail.

Audience helpline

A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokesperson said the situation was not down to new laws.

She said: "Some types of entertainment in front of public audiences have needed to be licensed since at least 1963 in London and 1982 in the rest of the country.

"The Licensing Act 2003 has not changed that. Whether or not a licence is required in any particular set of circumstances is rightly a matter for the local licensing authority."

Members of the public due to attend shows at Television Centre in May are advised to call the corporation's information helpline on 0208 576 1743.

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