The BBC has won back the broadcast rights for the Mercury Prize after a three-year absence during which it featured exclusively on rival British TV network Channel 4.
The shortlist of this year's 12 nominated albums will be announced on digital radio station BBC 6 Music on October 16, with the November 20 ceremony to be broadcast live on both 6 Music and TV station BBC Four. In the run-up to the awards, a series of studio sessions featuring short-listed acts will be promoted across the corporation’s radio and digital platforms.
According to a press release from BBC, this year’s Mercury Prize will also see the event -- long regarded as a key date in the U.K. music calendar -- transition away “from its traditional awards show” format to “deliver even greater reach and more quality music content.”
Organizers say that going forward they will work more closely with “artists, management and independent labels” that represent the wider music community to encourage and support new talent across all artistic styles.
Welcoming the partnership with the BBC, Mercury Prize managing director Dan Ford called the broadcast deal “an exciting first step in the development of a new long-term vision for the Mercury Prize that will help to ensure and extend its relevance to a new generation of music fans for years to come.”
Ford went on to say: “As the Prize approaches its landmark 25th anniversary, it is increasingly important that we work with broadcast partners and music organisations that share our passion for the award’s values in order to help us achieve the broadest possible reach and profile.”
Established in 1992 as an independently focused alternative to the Brit Awards, the Mercury Prize -- formerly called the Mercury Music Prize -- is awarded each fall to what its independent panel of judges deem to be the best album of the year from a U.K. artist, selected from a shortlist of 12, supposedly spanning all styles of music.
Chaired by author and music writer Simon Frith, the “judges’ decisions are based solely on the quality of the music on the albums” and do not take into account commercial sales, chart success, the label an artist is signed to or live performances, according to a mandate published on the Mercury Prize website (http://www.mercuryprize.com/aoty/about.php).
“The Mercury Prize is an important part of our cultural landscape, recognising and celebrating the finest British and Irish albums released every year, regardless of genre, fashion or commercial success,” commented BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor, calling the award “the Man Booker or Turner Prize for music.”
Entries for this year’s Mercury Prize open July 9 and are open to any album released by a British or Irish artist in the U.K. between September 9 2014 and September 25 2015. The fee to enter is £170.00 ($260.00) plus VAT.