BBC Trust launches its biggest radio review

Drummer playing at Radio 1's Live Lounge The Trust has already tasked Radio 1 with lowering its average listener age to below 30

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The BBC Trust has launched its biggest review of the BBC's network music stations.

Its assessment, announced in February, will look at the performances of Radio 1, 1Xtra, 2, 3, 6 Music and Asian Network and whether they provide value for money.

The range of musical genres will also come under focus, along with the stations' record at supporting new and live British music.

BBC trustee Bill Matthews, who will conduct the review with fellow trustee Nick Prettejohn, said the corporation reflected the UK's "rich musical heritage", adding: "From classical to folk, country to grime, the BBC must cater for all tastes and provide something for anyone who loves music.

"We want to encourage listeners to get in touch and tell us how they think the BBC's six music radio stations are doing."

Commercial criticism

According to the latest Rajar figures, BBC radio, including speech networks and local stations, had the lowest listening share since June 2004 with 53.3% of the audience.

Commercial radio stations, meanwhile, increased their share to 43.2%.

Siobhan Kenny, chief executive of the commercial radio body RadioCentre, was reported in the Guardian on Thursday as questioning whether BBC music stations provided value to the public.

"At RadioCentre, we are particularly interested in the positioning and distinctiveness of Radios 1, 2 and 3.

"No one disputes the strength and appeal of the stations but, the question is, given the luxury of their licence-fee funded position, are they delivering real public service value across the schedule and truly giving their audiences content, which cannot or could not be found elsewhere?"

Twitter hashtag

The Trust review will also examine whether the BBC stations are equipped to deal with changing media habits and if their service licences need any changes.

Previous Trust reviews concluded that Radio 1 must reduce the average of its listeners' age to below 30 and that Radio 2 should take more creative risks.

A three-month public consultation opened on Thursday and listeners can also tweet their views via the hashtag #trustreview. Final conclusions will be published early next year.

The BBC's speech networks, including Radio 4, will be assessed later this year. They form part of the Trust's rolling programme of reviews, where the governing body assesses all BBC services at least once every five years.

More details can be found here.

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