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Several of you have raised the matter of repeats - and others trails.

I'll write about the vexed subject - and it is - of trails later this month.

I'll deal with repeats in this one.

Yes - we repeat a fair amount - about 19% of the schedule. It can feel like more - because if you strip out things that you couldn't repeat, like Today, PM, The World at One, news bulletins etc... it's higher. Some of this is pure economics. We simply can't make more programmes with the money we have. We have several ideas for new programmes/formats - but I can't afford to take out repeats and replace them with these news ideas. We'd go broke.

It has got a little more difficult in recent years - but we have always repeated a range of programmes and I do not believe that things are very different now - a little, but not much.

But it's not all about economics. Take the recent move (and re-branding) of Archive on 4 (The Archive Hour as was). This format/title, now ten years old, was very often one of the best things we did all week. It was going out only on a Saturday night at 8 pm to an audience of between 300,000 and 400,000. (That's the number who listen to at least a portion of it - not necessarily all of it).

Now it gets a slightly shorter transmission, 45 minutes, at 3 pm on a Monday afternoon. The total audience for something of quality has more than doubled as a result. Thus this week's fascinating programme on the burning of The Satanic Verses and the fatwa against Rushdie is heard by far more people. That's a good thing.

Bad - if you miss the reading that was once there at 3.30 - but on balance, and keeping in mind the economics, a decent trade.

For heavy listeners - it can be wearying. But there is not much overlap between the two Archive on 4 slots and although I wish everyone would listen to R4 most of the time - not everyone does. Some people listen lightly - so well-placed repeats are a boon for many - and a pain for some.

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  • Comment number 47. Posted by apdafydd1

    on 28 Apr 2009 09:19

    I don't often plan to listen to radio programmes so I like repeats! I accidentally caught and loved the 'Over the Rainbow' programme this morning and wish you could have it available for listening again for my teenage daughter.

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  • Comment number 46. Posted by anonymous2009

    on 26 Apr 2009 17:31

    Ah - thanks. I had Sky in the 90s and remember it being an option on their EPG for scheduling 'favourite' programmes... It's so long since I have bothered with TV that I had forgotten such things... But, 10 years after writing to the TV Licencing people I get junk mail every month or two and visits now and then (they leave their card to say 'we promised we'd call')...

    Still no TV, but even if they had a freephone / freepost method of contact, so it would cost me nothing to make contact (since they 'demand' I do so) I'd be unlikely to bother, since they make it clear they will still need to 'come and check' and unfortunately I don't have an electrified fence to stop them pressing the front door bell... They're really _that_ welcome to "inspect" (not at all, for anyone who needs clarity).

    I resent the suggestion that I'm an 'oddity' for not being one of the group who has a box in the corner, and indication that even if I tell them (again) that I have no need of one, I'm "guilty" of evasion until they have inspected my property. Is it any wonder letters are ignored. I also have no landline, so at least they cannot consider pestering by phone calls (I'd class that as a nuisance call, if they ever tried it).

    I'd willingly make some payment (as for many publicly supported radio stations in the USA) if there was a way, but any unexpected visitors can look down the barrel of my rifle as my form of 'welcome'.

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  • Comment number 45. Posted by Steve Bowbrick

    on 23 Apr 2009 11:55

    @anonymous2009 I'm pretty sure that in this context 'SL' stands for 'Series Link' which is the facility that some digital video recorders have for recording a whole series automatically. The clever ones will ask you if you want to record the whole series or just one episode when you click record. Just to make things a little clearer, each recorder has its own name for this feature - and in some cases the term is a legally protected trademark!

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

  • Comment number 44. Posted by anonymous2009

    on 22 Apr 2009 08:57

    @41 sorry not sure what "SL" refers to - "R" is clearly for a repeat, but I've no clue what the other is meant to mean, so would welcome clarification.

    (apologies that this is off topic, however, there's no way on the BBC message system for one user to pass a 'private' message direct to another, so can only make a public comment such as this one!)

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  • Comment number 43. Posted by anonymous2009

    on 17 Mar 2009 22:23

    @41 I have a host of questions and complaints about the random handling of repeats, and the variation of handling of 'trails' (or, more bluntly, 'adverts')

    There's also the question of whether some material gets into the news, whilst really being a disguised 'promo' for either TV or radio. It has been criticised via Feedback, yet still goes on... That "Lenny Henry does Othello" item was done to death in the week of it being on air, for example...

    I'd also love to hear more UK stories - like TV's old Nationwide show - and not just 'media' or 'arty' stories - for example is it really of high importance that scrapping Go 4 It should have made the 18:00 news?

    I have to question the regular news content - the name 'world' in the news programme name seems to imply tripping off to report from some far-flung destination, not always successfully (!), and sometimes I think the local correspondent might be quite 'miffed' that having put their life in the UK on hold for some period of time, built up a variety of trusted contacts to get the lowdown on local viewpoints and history of bitterness between factions, the London boys get some UK 'anchor' flown in to "steal their thunder" when a 'juicy' story breaks...

    Sure I know events outside the UK are important, but US elections, politicians in Africa, and so on, seem to get much too muchcoverage, in my view... this was the 'Home Service' but now seems more like CNN Worldwide...


    Anyway, hopefully MD will remember mentioning the matter of 'trails' and I can then properly query R4 handling...

    ([1], on whether some programmes seem to be left out of pre- broadcast mention - eg Click On.. or most anything Science related,

    [2], whether some items get overdone - Darwin series, 'CERN week', that Wikipedia programme a while back - with announcements for 8 days before it went out,
    [3], whether there's need to tell us the plot before a programme, and dumb down so they always, before and after, The Archers, tell us a chunk of the story coming up...

    I'm sure there's a lot more to cover!!)

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  • Comment number 42. Posted by majusko

    on 2 Mar 2009 00:07

    This comment was removed because it broke the house rules. Explain

  • Comment number 41. Posted by ramagel

    on 28 Feb 2009 18:36

    Ahh. Yes, but your complaint (which I endorse) seems to be more about the sophistry deployed in advertising programs (ooops - sorry - "trailing" them) rather than the repeating of them per se.

    The old "R" which use to signify "repeat" in listings seems more or less to have dissapeared now - or is, as you lament, more or less abused.

    Most of my viewing and listening is based around Freeview and my Topfield PVR which can be programmed in various sophisticated ways to take notice in descriptions of such things as "R" and "SL" to avoid (or select) particular versions of a programme.

    A little more honesty and completeness in program descriptions would be VERY helpful

    Oh, and completely OT since it refers to a visual medium - wouldn't you have thought in the "Day of the Red Button" that there would be a way of switching off the demented dwarf in the corner of "SL" transmissions?

    I'm going to have to watch Ep1 of the Victorians with this distracting twitching because I failed to record the "proper" transmission being completely confused about when it was going to be broadcast by the number of adverts, sorry, trails for it.

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  • Comment number 40. Posted by anonymous2009

    on 28 Feb 2009 14:41

    I am not American, and knew it was irony, but it still 'fell flat' as there is plenty of enjoyable (to me) comedy in the 18:30 slot, despite the detractors.

    But as I indicated, it's also difficult to know what classes as 'good' comedy (when someone else is being critical) without them spelling out what things they enjoy, unless you're a mindreader, of course :)

    I cannot claim such a lengthy period of listening because of being a student and then work committments, at least before the early 90s when I went self-employed, but find plenty to enjoy, albeit with some exceptions

    The exceptions include some repeats which are unclear in them having already been broadcast - so for example, a 'new series' of "Ed Readon's Week" might mean 'first playing in the 18L30 slot, previously heard at 11:30 a few weeks ago'

    It was for that reason I missed the second series of "The Castle" in the 11:30 slot, because when I happened to notice negative comments on the MBs, it did not 'click' it was a new series. Only when I heard an excerpt on "Feedback" was it clear that it was actually "new" !

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  • Comment number 39. Posted by ramagel

    on 27 Feb 2009 22:10

    You're not an American are you, Nonny09? They don't get irony either ..... which is what I take the content of #37 to be .....

    You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your price - and although quality has been variable over the years the 18.30 slot has been required listening for me since - oh - 1971.

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  • Comment number 38. Posted by anonymous2009

    on 27 Feb 2009 21:53

    Some of the 18:30 content is already repeats, since some of the comedy has already been on in an 11:30 slot. However, while some (such as the previous poster) consider the material 'adolescent musings by chums and cronies', I for one enjoy the majority of content.

    Of course, not everything appeals, so I tend to switch over from Count Arthur, and don't listen to John Shuttleworth on BBC 7, but in all the output, I find a lot that I enjoy, from panel games to sketch shows.

    Unless you (imperialkestrel) voice what _you_ consider to be 'good' comedy, your suggestion (however clever you thought it when writing) falls a bit flat, in my view.

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