New digital programmes - and a new name for Radio 7

Tuesday 1 March 2011, 12:00

Tim Davie Tim Davie Director of Audio & Music

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Roy Plomley and Noel Coward on Desert Island Discs in 1963, for the 21st anniversary of the programme.

Today we announced a series of new programmes which will be appearing on our digital radio stations. Also, we confirmed that we are changing the name of BBC Radio 7 to BBC Radio 4 Extra in April. You can find all the details in the press release.

Some people have questioned why we are altering a much-loved service: is this just unnecessary management tinkering? Firstly, let me offer a few words of reassurance. Radio 4 Extra will not be fundamentally different to Radio 7. The vast majority of the programming will remain much-loved archive productions, and we will continue to focus on comedy, drama and entertainment rather than offering news or current affairs. The primary reason for change is not to sell digital radios but to ensure more Radio 4 listeners are aware that we offer more of what they love. We'll be offering a more direct link between Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra. For example, we have confirmed that The Now Show and The News Quiz will offer extended versions on Radio 4 Extra featuring some of the bits that we have had to edit out to fit the programmes into their 30-minute slot on Radio 4.

As you can see we do not intend to take away people's favourite programmes from Radio 4. Perhaps the best example of how we see Radio 4 Extra working, as well as how we can see the digital world as offering a better service to listeners, is our plan for Desert Island Discs. On top of the ongoing Radio 4 programme, we will offer extended programmes on Radio 4 Extra as well as old editions. Meanwhile online we'll launch an amazing archive of 500 programmes that listeners can explore and download.

I hope that even if you have not caught Radio 7 yet, you do take the chance to take a listen to Radio 4 Extra when it launches in April.

Tim Davie is Director of Audio & Music

  • The picture shows Roy Plomley and his guest Noel Coward on the occasion of the twenty-first anniversary of Desert Island Discs in 1963. Coward had been on the list of guests drawn up by Plomley when he devised the programme in 1941.

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    Comment number 1.

    Whilst you're rebranding the whole station, can I ask you to look at the episode titles you use on the website? At the moment, many episode titles are the date of first broadcast on radio 7. For an archive station, this is highly confusing. For example, News Quiz episode b00yy62p is currently called "27/02/2011". However, it was first broadcast on Radio 4 on 18/02/2001 (and presumably recorded on the 17th). It would be a lot clearer if the date reflected when it was recorded / first broadcast, rather than its radio 7 d├ębut. It is a topical comedy show after all. Ideally the episode would be merged with it's radio 4 version (b00yjt91), that way the list of panelists might actually reflect who was on the show in that episode. ;)

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    Comment number 2.

    A personal plea...any chance of re-arranging the schedules once in a while?
    I like to listen to speech radio late at night, and it would be wonderful to have some readings and drama to listen to at 11pm-1am.
    I'm sure that some people enjoy the comedy and science fiction, but must it be on at bedtime year in and year out?
    Surely it wouldn't be so difficult to move everything forward by three hours, perhaps on a quarterly basis?
    (An added advantage to this would be not being woken by cbeebies at 7am, when the alarm goes off!)

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    Comment number 3.

    As the Asian Network is to close soon and the space on DAB is limited hence BBC Radio 7(soon to be Radio 4 Extra)is presently transmitted in mono and at a lower bitrate to other BBC national networks(unless you listen via Sky/Freeview)any chance you could use the extra space by losing the Asian Network so the bitrate of BBC Radio 7 is increased and it could finally be broadcast in stereo?

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    Comment number 4.

    @ The Great Gildersleeve

    The Trust has not given a final decision on the fate of Asian Network (it's due later this year). The network may be saved, or become an evening-only service.

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    Comment number 5.

    That's inetersting London Mark...
    If it closes I hope they'll consider my idea...

    If Asian Network is only on air at night on a limited bases...I hope Radio 4 Extra can increase it's bitrate when AN isn't on air...Radio 3 has sometimes taken some of Radio 4's allocated space and it has meant R4 is in mono usually when a concert is on Radio 3.


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