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27/02/2017
BBC Radio 4

    CPLH and widening Radio 4's appeal - BBC Trustee David Liddiment on service licences

    Editor's note: this week's Feedback focused on the English language, on Royal visits to Ambridge an on the conclusion of the BBC Trust's review of Radio 4 - SB.

    There are many incidental pleasures to be derived from the latest BBC Trust Review, a copy of which is now available on its website.

    For example, on page 48 it publishes a useful table which shows the cost per listener hour (CPLH) for BBC network radio stations. That isn't the same of course as how much each station costs, and obviously the more listeners there are the cheaper the cost per listener hour.

    Still I was intrigued to see that Radio 3 costs over ten times as much CPLH as Radio 1, and around 5 times as much as Radio 4. Surprisingly, (to me anyway), Radio 5 live costs only a little less than twice as much CPLH as Radio 4. The station which has the lowest cost per listener hour is, unsurprisingly, the most popular, Radio 2.

    Mind you don't get carried away with the idea that Radio 3 is massively expensive. It still only costs 6.3 pence CPLH.

    The Trust, whose proud boast is that it is dedicated to "getting the best out of the BBC for licence fee-payers", published its latest review on Tuesday 8th February, after what it said was a 12-week public consultation.

    It considered the overall performance of Radios 3, 4 and 7, had some pungent things to say about what it called the failure of BBC radio's strategy for children, and also backed the management's proposals for accessing past radio programmes.

    The press reaction was, shall we say, mixed. I probably don't have to tell you which newspaper published the following headlines over critical articles.

    "Oh no! Don't let the dumb down-brigade ruin Radio 4. Its the last bastion of civilised, aspirational broadcasting."

    And the Daily Mail also said:

    "Radio 4 has 10 million loyal listeners. So what does the BBC think of them? Too many are white, southern, and elderly".

    The Trust's review is far more subtle and intelligent than that and addresses real issues that matter to you. It is worth an hour of any BBC listener's time. Shortly after the review's publication I talked to the Trust member who led it, David Liddiment.

    He spent most of his TV life working for Granada television in Manchester so is particularly sensitive to the views of those outside the south east. The first excerpt from our Feedback interview is about the Trust's backing of BBC management's desire to widen Radio 4's appeal:

    In a second, and shorter extract, David Liddiment talks about the failure of children's radio to a attract significant numbers of children:

    In next week's Feedback I'll be in Manchester to explore further the BBC's plans to move more programme departments out of London, in particular to nearby Salford. Will listeners notice the difference and do you care where your programmes come from? Do let me know what you think.

    Roger Bolton is presenter of Feedback

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