Thursday, March 19, 2015


The Trust review of BBC network music stations, led by insurance man Nick Prettejohn and bass-player Bill Matthews, is irritating.

There are 18 references to the commercial radio pressure group, RadioCentre, and it seems to me that most of the changes recommended are in response either to BBC budget cuts, or what commercial competitors want to happen.

So, to save money, Radio 1 will have fewer live sessions - down from 250 to 160 - and host fewer live festivals - down from 25 to 10. Radio 1 and 1Xtra will in future run more of the same documentaries. Radio 2 gets to drop a requirement to provide "regular" comedy programming. Radio 3's required quota of new dramas falls to 20 from 25 (and from 35 in 2012). The Asian Network is allowed to drop weekday news bulletins at 8pm and 9pm.

There's no evidence of any public debate about the level or number of social action campaigns on Radio 1, yet the Trust says "Radio 1 should find more ways to deliver a range of public purposes in daytime output". This seems to be entirely driven by the RadioCentre, who argue "Radio 1 is failing to deliver enough public value in daytime, and that Radio 1 should offer more news, plus documentaries, social action campaigns, advice programmes and other current affairs output in daytime. "

The RadioCentre and ClassicFM also score with an impossible new demand on Radio 3: "Radio 3 should seek to increase choice for radio listeners by minimising any programmes and features that are similar to Classic FM’s."  Is that just now, in the future, forever ? Would you like to run a radio station looking over your shoulder ? What nonsense.

Of course, there are many RadioCentre demands that have been biffed.  Just not enough.

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