IMPORTANT NEWS! John Leech MP has tabled EDM: 378

If you support this important cause, please ask your MP to sign EDM 378.

Below is a Press Notice and hyperlinks to this EDM and other documents relating to children’s diminishing rights in non-commercial radio broadcasting. The BBC Trust is due to publish its findings late Summer/Autumn.

Thank you,

Susan Stranks

Contact Susan Stranks, Coordinator, Sound Start Group



MPs call for national radio network for children …


An Early Day Motion [EDM] has called for a national non-commercial radio network for children …  

Tabled by John Leech MP, Liberal Democrat Member for Manchester, Withington, and sponsored by Sir Peter Bottomley MP; Kelvin Hopkins MP; Dan Rogerson MP;  Bob Russell MP and Jim Shannon MP, the EDM reflects public concern about BBC policy in children’s radio. The BBC Trust is currently conducting a Review of Children’s Services, due to report in the Autumn.

Campaigning organisations the Sound Start Group and Voice of the Listener & Viewer [VLV], have criticised the BBC’s Strategy for Children’s Audio, which dropped the remit to provide a non-commercial radio home for children; reduced their hours by three quarters and re-launched the remainder as ‘family listening’ on R4extra – the network licensed as the home for fans of horror, sci-fi and stand-up comedy. In answer to complaints about conflicted schedules the BBC points out that R4Extra is an adult station to which the number of children or young people listening is “… so minimal as to hardly register”.  Parental supervision is recommended.

Children’s broadcaster, Susan Stranks, who coordinates the Sound Start Group, says, We welcome this EDM. The BBC argues that few children are drawn to adult speech formats so why leave them there?.  This absurd scheduling makes radio a no-go area instead of a place of joy and discovery. Children lost 75% air-time and 50% funding compared to BBC savings averaging 16% – 20%.  By contrast, the Asian Network; R6; World Service and BBC Local radio all gained partial or total reprieves. It’s so unfair!”

The VLV’s response regrets the BBC’s reduced commitment to distinctive children’s radio and wonders whether Radio 4 Extra is the best place for encouraging ‘family listening’. Both groups advise that R2 would be a more suitable network for family content.

The Sound Start Group has called for thorough and independent evaluation of radio’s potential in children’s lives. The group includes parents and leading professionals in language therapy, childcare, broadcasting, publishing and the law, and is chaired by the Baroness Warnock, who says, Daily songs, stories and word-games encourage listening, talking, understanding and imagination. Research shows strong public preference for a licence-funded radio network for young children and their families and this Review is a welcome opportunity to revisit the BBC’s options.

Editor’s Notes:

  • The last Trust Review of BBC Children’s Services was in 2009
  • When the BBC Asian Network was due to close in 2010, the Sound Start Group called for a revised Service Licence to target children and families inclusively across all UK communities but the Network was reprieved, with an annual budget of £9.2million.
  • abracaDABra! as a non-commercial, non profit children’s internet radio service



Previous EDMs – Children’s Radio

2001 Research Data
2010 Research Data
2011 Research Data
2013 Research Data 

Sound Start Group Response to the BBC Trust Review

abracaDABra! Response to the BBC Trust Review

Contact Susan Stranks:


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