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Boaden defends distinctiveness of BBC radio

by RadioToday UK
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Helen Boaden has defended the distinctiveness of BBC radio stations after the Government suggested some services were too commercial.

In the Green Paper this week, the Government highlighted the content budget for Radio 6 is £8 million compared to the combined almost £87 million for the arguably less distinctive Radio 1 and 2. It also pointed out that most of Radio 1’s documentaries, which makes the station stand out from commercial radio, are broadcast at 9pm on Tuesdays.

“It should be for the public to decide whether [snipped] stations like Radio 1 or 2, should continue,” the Paper said.

Helen blogged she was surprised to read Radio 1 and Radio 2 are under threat, saying the services are much loved and that the questions raised have straightforward replies.

“The key argument seems to be that it these stations lack ‘distinctiveness’. The shorthand we often hear – Radios 3 and 4 embody public service broadcasting whilst Radios 1 and 2 are easily replaced by commercial counterparts – is wrong,” the Director of Radio said.

“Take Radio 1. It informs, educates and entertains 10 million young listeners a week. It offers daily news (up to 6 times more news per week than its commercial competitors), regular documentaries (rarely heard on commercial networks) and social action campaigns, highlighting issues like online bullying and teenage suicide. In fact, we estimate around 40% of Radio 1’s daytime output is speech – twice as much as comparable commercial outlets.

“In music, it creates the hits others play. Around two thirds of its daytime music is new, with over 60% from UK artists. Acts like Jake Bugg, Royal Blood and Florence and the Machine have all benefited from the early support of Radio 1 at the start of their careers, and have gone on to achieve great UK and international success. These are just some examples – no radio station has done more to support new and UK music over its near 50 year history – it is the envy of the world and remains at the top of its game.”

And on Radio 2, Helen points out the 200 hours of religious programmes every year, 115 hours of arts each year, children’s storytelling in its breakfast show and around half its total output is speech – compared to around 20% on commercial stations. The station has more than 1,100 hours of specialist programmes per year, including regular programmes on folk, show tunes, blues, country, soul, jazz, orchestral and organ music. “No one else can come close to this commitment”. she continued.

Helen encouraged everyone to fill out their opinions online.

Read the full blog here.

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