BBC Radio 4


    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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