Listen to the Introductory Talk by Sir William Haley KCMG
With the opening of the Third Programme on Sunday the pattern of the BBC's post-war broadcasting for listeners in (the United Kingdom will be complete. Within that pattern there will, we hope, be many advances and improvements. Each of the three separate services must continually seek to experiment, to innovate, and to raise the general broadcasting standards in its particular field. But the overall pattern itself should for a considerable period remain set. The complications of radio engineering, the difficulties over wavelengths, and indeed the convenience of listeners all demand a settled system of programmes so long as it is well-conceived and adequate.
This matter of adequacy is important. There are many conceptions of the functions of broadcasting, some of them narrowly limited. But a public service such as the BBC has to feel that it is covering the whole range of its possibilities, that it is providing for all classes of its listeners, and that it is, among its other functions, presenting the great classical repertoire in music and drama, and "so far as they are broadcastable" in literature, and the other arts.
To do this within the two services already existing, the regionalised Home Service and the Light Programme, is not possible. Quite apart from the already great pressure upon their time, the basic conceptions of ordinary broadcasting with its news bulletins and other fixed points, its desire in the course of the limited peak listening hours every evening to give some service to every possible taste, restrict to a hampering extent the possibility of devoting the necessary time to the full and frequent performance of great works in their entirety or to the development of those highest forms of music and drama which, while they have a major importance, have, as yet, only a minority audience. The range of the Home Service and the Light Programme is admitted by all who have studied broadcasting programmes throughout the world to be outstanding. But in view of all this, it is not enough.
The Third Programme will have no fixed points. It will devote to the great works the time they require. It will seek every evening to do something that is culturally satisfying and significant. It will devote occasional series of evenings to some related masterpieces, a Shakespeare historical cycle, all the Beethoven quartets, or a series of Mozart operas. It will, so far as circumstances permit, be international. Concerts, operas, plays will be taken from abroad as landline conditions improve. Its talks will include contributions from the great European thinkers. Its whole content will be directed to an audience that is not of one class but that is perceptive and intelligent.
In declaring these standards the BBC realises that it is aiming high. It may be giving hostages unto fortune. But it is determined to break this new ground. And it believes that the outcome will prove that of all post-war developments in the field of sound broadcasting the Third Programme has the greatest value both to the individual and to the community as a whole.
Broadcasting has reached its post-war pattern sooner than the lifting of restrictions on the consumption of newsprint. In this Radio Times, restricted to a third of its pre-war size, we publish comprehensive details of a week's broadcasting in the BBC's Home Service, the Light Programme, and the new Third Programme. And we have aimed to present these programmes in the way that we believe will satisfy the needs of listeners and meet with their approval.
Each day's programmes are grouped together, and each of the seven days follows the same pattern. The listener's own Home Service and the Light Programme still appear on facing pages, an arrangement that we know is popular: on the next pair of pages there is the Third Programme and a daily summary, giving an overall picture of the individual programmes in all the BBC's regional services, facing a page of reading matter or advertisements.
To keep each of the day's programmes to the same pattern we have had to split up the three pages of articles and regular features that have always appeared before the programmes in RADIO TIMES and distribute them throughout the journal and in the change there is half a page more reading matter.
That is why, this week, your programmes begin on page two.