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08/02/2011

BBC Radio To 'Extend Appeal - But Remain Distinctive'

A BBC Trust review has concluded that BBC Radio 3, Radio 4 and Radio 7 are much loved and highly valued by the millions of licence fee payers that listen every week.
Written by the organisation that sets BBC strategy and top-level budgets and appoints the Director-General and makes sure the BBC has the right standards, the review found that all three stations are high quality and offer truly distinctive public service broadcasting.
Their challenge is to gradually extend their core appeal without jeopardizing their distinctiveness. This review sets out a series of actions that the Trust believes can help achieve this.
The Trust recognises that Radio 3 has gone some way to adopting a more welcoming tone, and should build on this while maintaining its commitment to high quality music and arts.
Radio 4 should aim to broaden its appeal amongst different demographic groups, such as those outside of London and the South East.
As part of the review, the Trust has approved the BBC Executive's proposal to reposition Radio 7 as Radio 4 Extra in order to raise awareness, bring more listeners to the station and promote DAB radio.
The review, which included a 12-week public consultation, considered the overall performance of Radios 3, 4 and 7 - including the stations' quality, distinctiveness and value for money, and the BBC's future plans for the services.
The consultation received a total of 16,795 responses from licence fee payers, the most for any BBC Trust service review.
Three strategic proposals, put forward by the Executive, have been approved as part of this review: The repositioning of Radio 7 as Radio 4 Extra, a new strategy for children's audio which is designed to better serve children of all ages; this will see the refocusing of children's programming on Radio 7 to appeal more to families and the development of permanent collections of on-demand content for Radio 3, Radio 4 and BBC 4.
BBC Trust Chairman, Sir Michael Lyons, said: "The Trust is there to get the best out of BBC services for licence fee payers - and that means ensuring that programmes are distinctive, high quality and entertaining, while delivering value for money.
"This is particularly relevant in light of the long term savings the BBC must make following the new licence fee settlement.
"We found that Radio 3, Radio 4 and Radio 7 are doing much to meet those challenges of distinctiveness and quality - and the Trust will work with the services to ensure they build on this good work."
BBC Trustee David Liddiment, who led the review, said: "It is evident that Radio 3, Radio 4 and Radio 7 are much loved by the loyal and passionate listeners that tune in each week.
"The challenge now is to bring in new audiences, while retaining the qualities that make them special. The report sets out measures to achieve this and we now look to the Executive to implement these.
"The Trust is clear that the BBC has an important responsibility to serve children via radio, television and online. It is regrettable that the current strategy for children's radio is not working. The Trust nonetheless believes that the Executive's new strategy will ensure children of all ages are better served by the BBC."
Following today's announcement by the BBC Trust on its review of BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 7, the BBC's Tim Davie, Director of Audio & Music, said: "We welcome this report and the Trust's recognition that listeners enjoy these distinctive services which also represent value for money.
"I am pleased that the Trust has approved the rebranding of Radio 7 as Radio 4 Extra and hope we can build on the success of Radio 7 and bring its content to an even wider audience.
"We also welcome the Trust's recommendation that we continue to build the appeal of Radio 3 and Radio 4 amongst potential new listeners in a way that preserves the quality and distinctiveness of the services and considers their existing, loyal audiences."
Roger Wright, Controller, BBC Radio 3 and Director, BBC Proms, said: "We welcome the Trust's recognition of Radio 3's distinctive music and arts output and support for the current direction of the station.
"The Trust Service Licence Review confirms that BBC Radio 3 makes a significant contribution to British culture and endorses the station's unique commitment to live music as well as the range of musical genres and depth of its contextual programming.
"The review also notes the role Radio 3 plays as the most significant commissioner of new music in the world.
"The Trust confirms that Radio 3 represents excellent value for money. We welcome the Trust's recommendation that Radio 3 continues to build appeal for potential new listeners whilst, vitally, maintaining the station's unique music, arts and broadcast features of the highest quality."
Also commenting, Gwyneth Williams, Controller, BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 7, said: "I warmly welcome the results of the Trust's very thorough review of Radio 4. The overwhelmingly positive feedback they received from listeners is a tribute to all the programme makers across the UK on whose creativity and high standards the station depends.
"I am also encouraged by the Trust's endorsement of our continuing work to extend the appeal and accessibility of the station while remaining true to our values and our very loyal audience," the senior BBC executive concluded.
(BMcC/GK)
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