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A balancing act with Sports Report

Roger Mosey | 13:53 UK time, Thursday, 17 January 2008

People have said the BBC loves an anniversary. Maybe so, though my formative years as a producer on the Today programme on Radio 4 were with an editor who hated anniversary stories. "Lazy journalism", he called them - with some justice, because revealing something new is much more difficult than recording that it's 40 years since some event or other happened.

All the same, this month we'll be raising a glass to a 60th anniversary within BBC Sport. It's 60 years since Sports Report first took to the air - and for the past 14 of those years it's been a stalwart of Radio Five Live.

At 5pm on Saturday afternoons, there's the wonderful old music; the peerless James Alexander Gordon reading the football results; and then analysis and reaction from all the day's sport.

But a number of listeners and some recent newspaper commentators have made the point that Sports Report is very seldom now the traditional hour in length. Live Premier League commentaries often start at 5.15pm - or, as earlier this season, we have major events like the Rugby World Cup across the 5pm junction.

I've a lot of sympathy with the people who are complaining. We'd all like Sports Report to be there every week in its full glory, and it has had a particularly difficult run in recent months because of the sheer volume of top live sport. But that's the dilemma.

Christiano Ronaldo plays the ball in the Manchester United v Newcastle match

Last Saturday, for instance, we had the exclusive network radio rights to the teatime encounter between Manchester United and Newcastle United - and it was being covered on television by Setanta, which most of the population don't have. Which should take priority: a key live match, which turned out to be a great story, or information that may also be available to some extent on the website or your mobile or Final Score? There's a similar dilemma this Saturday with a 5.15pm start for Newcastle's first Premier League game since Kevin Keegan's appointment.

A new controller of 5 Live will be appointed in the coming weeks after Bob Shennan's departure to Channel 4. This will be one of the issues he or she will need to address.

We welcome your views. What's the format that would suit you best, and how should we balance live sport with the best radio reporting traditions? We'll make sure the new controller sees what you say.

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