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.

The group of educators and broadcasters points out that UK law protects radio access and choice only for listeners over 14 years of age and says the BBC is failing to serve children adequately. Executives have struggled to place children’s content on adult radio networks and want delivery shifted to audio-on-line and down-loads.

Baroness Warnock, the philosopher and former head teacher who is chair of the group, says: “This uniquely accessible medium can add choice and balance to the predominant screen and keyboard culture. Radio has powers to nourish the young mind, body and soul.”

Lady Warnock raised the matter in the House of Lords in May 2009:  

The response describes R3, 4 and 7 as the most culturally nourishing radio networks, having a collective annual budget of £133m. It calls for funds to be ring-fenced for independent and in-house commissions to provide national, local and regional services with high quality content for young people at clearly publicized times.

The four page document lists annual service budgets for all BBC Radio at a total in excess of £460m, of which an estimated £1.6m went on children.

Broadcaster and Sound Start coordinator, Susan Stranks, comments, Children should be central to planning not falling off the edges The BBC serves this age-group with charts and chat on R1 but young people have interests and aspirations far beyond pop and they need a wide range of music, drama, information and news that is relevant to them.

The Sound Start Group has also submitted plans for a two year pilot for pre- and primary-school aged children to replace the ailing digital Asian Network.  This month a Capibus Ipsos MORI face-to-face omnibus survey, showed 23% of participants thought a children’s service to be important for the British public to be able to listen to, ahead of 5 Live Extra [sport] at 19%; R7 [adult speech] at 17%; 6 Music [Pop music 70’s – 90s] at 16%; Radio 1Xtra [Black Music] at 9% and the Asian Network at 7%.

Note: Two questions were asked on Capibus, Ipsos MORI’s weekly face to face omnibus survey, between 13th and 19th August 2010. The Capibus sample is a nationally representative one of c.2000 adults aged 15+. Interviewing is conducted face to face in home via around 170 sampling points throughout GB. Each of the two questions was asked of a separate sample of c.1000 adults aged 15+. The data obtained was weighted slightly in order to match national proportions in terms of gender, age, region, working status and ethnicity. 

Contact: Susan Stranks, Coordinator – National Campaign for Children’s Radio and the Sound Start Group  T:+44[0]1273 777489.

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