BBC Radio 4

    Feedback - Radio 4 Extra: A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

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    The BBC digital station Radio 7 has changed its name to Radio 4 Extra, but some Feedback listeners don't like the smell.

    Amaechi Ihetu told us that she was 'disappointed that listeners have lost a true gem'. Tina Taylor wrote 'I don't want to hear repeats of Desert Island Discs'.

    Fred Whalley was among a number of listeners who were sad to lose the children's programming that they had enjoyed on 7, and even some Archers addicts claim to be indifferent to Ambridge Extra. Others, like Galen White, question the wisdom of putting the Ambridge Extra omnibus straight after the Archers Omnibus, an obvious ploy to get addicts to cross from 4 to 4 Extra.

    Well these are early days and the retitled network has only been broadcasting for a few weeks, but the BBC Trust was clear that something had to be done to improve the size of audience. The last figures suggest Radio 7 had a 0.6% share of listening, making it a vulnerable target at a time of belt tightening.

    On the other hand the Trust's David Liddiment made it clear, in a Feedback interview earlier in the year, that he didn't want the network to change that much and that 'most of the programming (on 4 Extra) would be recognisable to a Radio 7 audience.'

    There are benefits to the change of name. The Controller of 4 Extra is Gwyneth Williams, Controller of Radio 4, and this means that there can be more complementary programmes between the two networks and more trails for 4 Extra on its Big Sister network.

    The Head of Programming of 4 Extra is Mary Kalemkerian who did the same job for Radio 7. On Wednesday she came into the Feedback studio to talk down the line to two listeners. Rae Streets was in Cambridge and John Shellard in Sheffield. They did not pull their punches.

    Feedback is now on the air until the end of July.

    It's likely to be a long hot summer for BBC management as it spells out the detailed consequences of the cut in the licence fee, and tries to get approval from the BBC Trust, and ultimately you, for the changes that they think unavoidable.

    More salami slicing or cuts in actual services?

    We'll soon find out. Make sure you let us know what you think. Leave a comment on the blog or get in touch via the Feedback web site.

    Roger Bolton is presenter of Feedback

    • Listen again to this week's Feedback, produced by Karen Pirie, get in touch with Feedback, find out how to join the listener panel or subscribe to the podcast on the Feedback web page.
    • Feedback is on Twitter. Follow @BBCR4Feedback.
    • Picture info: "Steptoe and Son: S5 29/01/1970 © BBC Picture shows - Harry H. Corbett as Harold Steptoe and Wilfrid Brambell as Albert Steptoe pictured here in the junkyard in series five of 'Steptoe and Son'." You can hear Steptoe and Son on Radio 4 Extra.
    • RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research) and is the official body in charge of measuring radio audiences in the UK. It is jointly owned by the BBC and the RadioCentre on behalf of the commercial sector. Details of the Radio 7 .6% share of listening quoted above can be found here. By way of comparison Radio 4's figure for the same period is 12.30%.

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