‘Radio Waves’, Sunday Times, CULTURE, 21/10/2012

‘Radio Waves’, Sunday Times, CULTURE, 21/10/2012

Paul Donovan laments the BBC’s sorry record in providing radio for children and highlights the widespread concern about young children’s listening and language deficit, which can be so damaging to their social life, education and employment.

Today’s children have less licence-funded radio than ‘Children’s Hour’ provided in the 1940s when the Home Service was the only platform of delivery and,  of the £640.1million annual budget for its domestic radio services, less than £1m is reserved for what the BBC now calls ‘family listening’.

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Susan Stranks, presses for public service children’s radio network …

Susan Stranks, presses for public service children’s radio network …

An event hosted by the Media Society at the Royal Commonwealth Society, last night [12/09/2012] “What Next For Radio?” focused on ways to attract the generation of tech-savvy teenagers to the medium.

Chair: Tim Collins – senior producer, The Jeremy Vine Show BBC Radio 2

Panel: Matthew Bannister – presenter ‘Last Word’ Radio 4 and ‘Outlook’, BBC World Service;

Jumoké Fashola – presenter ‘Inspirit’, BBC London & Ronnie Scott’s Radio Show on Jazz Fm;

Mark Goodier –broadcaster for Smooth Radio and owner of Wise Buddah;

John Myers ­– CEO The Radio Academy, chair of Sony Radio Awards committee.

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Nursery Radio could solve language deficit say speech therapists

A radio diet of songs, stories, rhymes and word games would encourage essential listening and communication skills amongst young children across the UK. It would help immigrant families learning English as an additional language, and also be a service to teachers and language therapists. Read more

Response to BBC Trust Consultation on the Asian Network

The Asian Network should be replaced with an inclusive radio network to serve and support young children and their families in all our communities.


What they say:

“…one of the difficulties of the Asian service is its concept. It broadcasts in a number of different languages to an audience that varies from younger to older [listeners].”

“It is trying to cater for many disparate groups simultaneously. We are wrestling with how to best serve this audience and whether one whole network is the right way to do it.”    

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New poll challenges BBC radio policy.

New research has placed the need for a radio network for children on a par with Radio 4Extra, casting doubt on the BBC’s radio policy.


A question was placed on Capibus,  Ipsos MORI’s face to face omnibus survey, for the Sound Start Group of parents and educators who are lobbying for a children’s radio network. When shown a list of 6 national radio stations funded by the licence fee, an equal percentage of the British public [23%] thought that National Children’s Radio and R4extra [formally R7] are most important for the British public to be able to listen to. This was followed by 5 Live Sports Plus [18%]; 6 Music [15%]; R1Extra [11%] and the Asian Network [seven per cent]; 17% did not know and 21% thought none were ‘most important’.

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BBC Trust rebuffs review of children’s radio cuts …

The BBC has refused to re-think radical cuts to its children’s radio services.

The Baroness Warnock, chair of the Sound Start Group of educators, met Trust Chairman, Lord Patten, last month to recommend a review of the BBC’s Strategy for Children’s Audio, which wrote off the core service remit to provide children with advertisement-free radio.

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Peers and broadcasters demand Review of BBC Children’s Radio cuts…

A meeting held by the Sound Start Group at the House of Lords on Monday [09/15/2011] has called for a review of the cuts to BBC Children’s Radio.

Speakers included Baroness Warnock, Baroness [Floella] Benjamin, with Baroness Howe, in the chair. Former ‘Magpie’ presenters, Susan Stranks and Mick Robertson, joined the meeting which also hosted authors, educators, musicians and child-care specialists.

The BBC’s  Strategy for Children’s Audio was approved by the BBC Trust in February.  It reduced children’s radio hours by 75% and moved 50% of funding to adult programmes. This has left £1m for children from the £460m p.a. licence-funded radio budget, in contrast to average cuts of 16% to 20% across other BBC departments.

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Syndication should not replace BBC children’s radio.

After painful decades of complaints, re-scheduling, re-branding and reduction, The BBC still condemns children’s radio as problematic and un-wanted. Now the few remaining hours may be axed from R7 in a re-launch as R4 Xtra and syndication of children’s content is again on the cards.

This may seem a way out of the BBC’s in-house obligations to young listeners as well as a handy nod to the Trust’s call for partnership but it raises serious questions.

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Response to the BBC Trust Consultation on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 7.

The background: BBC Executives have long argued that children don’t use radio but only want TV and pop music – an opinion largely based on their personal experience as parents of teenage children. As a consequence all young listeners were given low PSB priority and their radio programmes were reduced and finally withdrawn.

Young people enjoy a wide range of interests, activities and aspirations beyond pop and celebrity and it is the BBC’s duty to respect and nurture them with wide ranging, age-appropriate services across all platforms.

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Campaigners want programmes for children on BBC Radio 3, Radio 4 and Radio 7.

The Sound Start Group has responded to a BBC Trust Consultation on Radio 3, 4 and 7, with proposals to schedule content for children aged 11 to 14 years on all three networks.

The Consultation, which closes today [26/08/10], is the latest in the Trust’s Review on the future of BBC services.

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