Creating an open, more distinctive BBC…


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The value of learning to listen when young cannot be overestimated.  Experts agree that access to daily radio stimulates imagination; aids concentration; helps language and speech acquisition; develops coordination; encourages critical thinking and a sense of place.  It can help families learning English as an additional language and is also great fun!

In partnership with abracadabra! we run an all-day non-profit internet service of stories; songs; rhymes; music and movement; games and information for listeners aged birth to 10 and their families to showcase what can be achieved with very limited funds.

The BBC abandoned its key public duty with a string of duplicitous claims:

“Children may no longer be able to listen without visual stimulation.”

If this sorry scenario were true, the BBC is culpable. Children were not listening because the BBC failed to engage them and neglected to flag up the meagre content offered.

Children only want TV and pop music … the rest can always buy our tapes/CDs.”

Adults like pop music and TV and can purchase CDs. They also enjoy a wealth of traditional radio choice.

“Children only want their radio via computers and personal devices”.

A large percentage of adults enjoy radio via internet and personal devices.  They also benefit from a wealth of traditional radio choice across a growing number of platforms.

 And most self-damning of all:

 “Children aren’t drawn to our adult speech networks”.

Successive BBC research has shown this so why bury children’s content in unsuitable schedules for so many years – the last and least appropriate being R4Extra with its Service Licence billed as “…home of stand up comedy, horror and sci-fi?

With Children 2000, Sound Start sponsored four surveys by MORI and Ipsos Capibus MORI

 The first two placed a national network for children above all the BBC’s five DAB services, the third joint top with R4Extra [then airing children’s content] and the fourth at third place.

In each case the Asian Network came last. Charged with lax management and poor listening figures the Asian Network was singled out for closure in Putting Quality First, however, it gained a reprieve and continues to target young Asians aged under 35.

At £10.7m in the 2014/15 Annual Accounts the network cost more per listener hour than any other DAB format and the narrow focus is perceived increasingly as patronising and unrepresentative.  The network could be better used.


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