Sunday, July 26, 2015

You cannot be serious !

A mildly diverting discourse in The Guardian/Observer between two radio doyennes, playing with the word 'serious'.

Last weekend, a comment piece from Anne McElvoy, who both writes and broadcasts (and would probably like to present The Today Programme) said, effectively, we should all calm down about Charter Renewal. "The BBC is not undergoing involuntary euthanasia".

On scope and scale, she wrote "The BBC is big and has expanded rapidly from the 1990s. There are some good reasons for this – and some not so good. It is large because scale helped it achieve impact in a global media world and technology has enabled it to add services quickly. It has not, however, undergone much scrutiny for the impact of this on others. A serious radio competitor, for example, has never got off the ground, while newspaper websites are up against its prodigious online offering. Asking a group of people who have run other broadcasting bodies to advise the government on the BBC’s impact on media markets is not lese-majesty."

Today, the Telegraph's radio critic Gillian Reynolds writes to the Observer thus "Commercial radio in the UK competes seriously and successfully wherever there is a mass audience to be attracted. It does not, however, compete in 'serious radio' because the audience it would attract (for features, documentaries, drama, comedy, etc) is not sufficient to justify the higher costs entailed. What 'serious radio' commercial competitor would, for instance, underwrite her regular Radio 3 arts review, Free Thinking, or her Radio 4 series on Charlemagne and his legacy, or even the show where she has now also become a regular, Radio 4’s Moral Maze?"

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