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Author Topic:  Fury as top show is axed  (Read 3429 times)


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Fury as top show is axed
« on: June 22, 2014, 01:20:47 PM »
 "Penny-pinching" bosses at the BBC have come under fire for axing one of Britain's most popular nightly radio shows.  Alex Lester's  The Best Time of the Day, on Radio 2, is being moved away from its regular week-night slot to weekends and his legions of fans are up in ams.  Facebook and Twitter have been buzzing with reaction to the news and supporters are gathering petitions to present to executives responsible for the decision.  Many are threatening to abandon the station for rivals if the change, scheduled for September, goes ahead.  "Dark Lord" Lester's, 58, has been with Radio 2 since 1987 and has presented his late-night show, which runs from 2.00 a.m. - 5.00 am. for 24 years.  It has amassed a large and devoted audience of night shift workers, lorry drivers, insomniacs and others who find a live show through the small hours invaluable.  Now they will have to make do with week-night repeats as the BBC wrestles with budget cuts.  Among fans complaining is Steve Chapman.  He said "It's a disgrace that the idiotic management think they can move the best show on Radio 2 without a backlash from us".  Stephen Davies added: "Fuming with the incompetence of the management at the Beeb".  Accusing bosses of penny pinching , Graham Irvine added "Night shifts are hard enough  without losing a funny, smart, entertaining and talented presenter who you are looking to replace with the mindless drivel and boring mainstream music played by some of your daytime DJs.  "I will boycott BBC radio if you do".  Iain Stevenson said: "There will be big demonstrations outside Radio 2 studios". An online petition has gathered more than 1,300 signatures and calls on the BBC to change its mind over axing the show.  It says "Night- shift workers matter too!  We would like to request the return of Alex Lester's (aka the Dark Lord) to The Best Time Of The Day slot.  We don't want repeats, we want live radio shows.  Late-night/early morning listeners matter too!  The Dark Lord has been an anchor for the nation, and for listeners around the world.  Please don't take the only bit of life and entertainment night-shift workers have".
Bob Shennan, controller of Radio 2, said of the move: "We have had to make some difficult decisions in light of our reduced budgets, which is why we are reducing some live originations overight"

This was reported in a Sunday national newspaper.  I can only say I have been involved in petitions as regards removing popular presenters to the weekend in local radio and I would suggest it is just a complete waste of time.  The Acting Manager at the time said he didn't care how many names were on the petition, it would make not the slightest difference.  If Lord Hall is so interested in getting closer to the listeners and knowing their concerns, he should act now.  It is now use trying to brush things under the carpet.  As far as Bob Shennan goes, I notice he hasn't said anything about getting rid of any management, and there are too many of them - some of which are making the BBC top heavy.


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Re: Fury as top show is axed
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2014, 02:30:53 PM »
Just in case anyone missed it, I posted this story a couple of days after it first leaked out! Sorry for not giving it the right heading!!  Also I believe Radio Four's Feedback covers it, this week...

Thanks again Rita, for reminding us just how far adrift BBC management now is. If they spent less time hiding from us, and a whole lot more time facing their public - the ones they're meant to be making programmes for - then things may have a slight chance of improvement.

But I wouldn't hold my breath, if I were you. Many of the current crop of local radio management have shown themselves to be as self-serving as it's possible to get, interested solely in furthering their own BBC career path. All at our expense (literally) and all the time, irreperably damaging once-treasured local services - which their massively-more experienced predecessors had taken decades to build up.

Hate to be dismissive, but - after the arrogant response my sister-in-law had, from two BBC local radio managers - it looks like listeners have NO chance of a fair hearing, unless everyone voices their collective opinions. Is it just me, or is our journey getting steeper and steeper??


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Re: Fury as top show is axed
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2014, 08:15:12 PM »
There needs to be a campaign to protect BBC radio which can make a case for a seperate BBC radio licence fee. The huge costs are in TV it is there that the cuts have to be applied. Oh and of course the vast management structures that Tony Hall said he was going to address. BUT he has not.

It is worth looking again at this article from Libby Purves.

With no licence fee, the radio we love is lostLibby Purves
Last updated at 12:01AM, March 24 2014
A market-minded BBC dominated by television will not treasure quality and breadth of programming for long

A tide is turning. When I think about the BBC licence fee I feel like Matthew Arnold on Dover Beach, hearing the �melancholy, long, withdrawing roar� of an ocean receding. Multi-channels, decriminalisation, disillusion and political opportunism erode the reasonable consensus that 40p per household per day is worth paying for ad-free television and radio. It is reasonable to fear that the system founded in 1922 with a ten-shilling radio licence may not make its second century.

So what next? Once evasion is decriminalised, some suggest that refuseniks could have their signal blocked by encryption: an expensive stopgap. Others talk of advertising, Treasury funding or Noel Edmonds� mysterious �business model�. The most likely future is subscription. If so, I would like to sound an early alert.

In most minds the �145.50 a year is a TV licence. Since 1971 radio is �free�. But it should really be called a BBC Licence, as it funds ten radio networks plus local and regional services and from next month the whole World Service. Radio uses only 17 per cent of BBC income, the biggest chunk Radio 4 because journalism, drama, documentary and crafted radio are expensive. Second most costly is 5 Live, followed by music channels (Radio 3, interestingly, cheaper than Radio 2).

But it is television that creates celebrity, fashion and tabloid excitement for other media. Apart from DJ personality cults and a Westminster-village obsession with Today presenters, radio just doesn�t. And my fear is that in a subscription future its status would shrivel within a nervous, market-minded corporation. Music and news will always be valued and chat is cheap; but how about storytelling, in-depth interviews, original commissioning and artistic experimentation?

There is nothing like BBC radio anywhere. If BBC TV ceased to exist it would be sad, but news, documentary, game shows and drama do exist on other channels. Nobody else offers crafted radio. Channel 4 promised us some (everyone in radio longs for a rival to ginger up the slow BBC commissioning system) but they bowed out. There is just a fledgeling industry in commercial podcasts. You might well argue that Radio 4, at least, is accepted as a �jewel in the crown� of the BBC, cheap at the price and untainted by cheating, scandal, Ross-Brand, Savile etc. You could suppose that under any system its budgets and freedom would be safe. But I dunno. Even now, TV-controlled �bi-mediality� has an effect: despite a pledge from the present Director-General Tony Hall when he was running News that he would separate the two news empires, it is commonplace for radio to run a report that is obviously the soundtrack to TV pictures. Only the few correspondents you don�t see on screen � such as the great Hugh Sykes � deliver vivid, brilliant prose in the radio tradition.

I am an optimist, more so since the arrival of Lord Hall, yet the threat of subscription reminds me of a Nineties moment, in the ghastly John Birt years. I was enraged enough to propose in a speech at the Radio Academy �that the BBC is no longer a fit guardian for quality radio�. It said that letting TV-minded executives have power over radio was giving Cain the key to Abel�s life-support machine, and that if you looked at the Eric Gill statue on the front of Broadcasting House it was clear that big, powerful Prospero was actually strangling Ariel. TV�s corporate, ambitious populism was diverging so fast from Reithianism that radio needed ring-fenced money and separate management. I rudely added that you wouldn�t put Disney in charge of the RSC and that the core of BBC power was �TV-trained people impatient of R4, irritated by its pretensions, bored by its lack of hot pictures, press coverage and general sexiness. They have no fellow feeling or time for it.�

I found those rants in that old, rash, heartfelt speech and remember a rufty-tufty reception from managers and samizdat congratulations from colleagues. And am happy to say that the fears were reduced later, under that combative champion of radio Dame Jenny Abramsky and strong new controllers, notably Mark Damazer. There have been cuts in budget and sad losses in drama, but the inventive, intelligent tone endures.

This is not an insider plea. I spend far more time listening than broadcasting and defend it because while nothing is perfect, our speech radio is a marvel: democratic, portable, nimble. It is where the best comedy is born, from Hancock to Alan Partridge, because its cheapness and speed makes it daring. It has fed television�s imagination, invigorating a mindset that because of the showier medium�s costs is often timid and imitative. It produces deeper news analysis than TV, and sometimes scoops it (Derek Cooper talked about BSE long before anyone and many a new global crisis emerges first on From Our Own Correspondent).

It is not, as some sneerers say, all elite or elderly but cherished by long-distance drivers, home workers, craftspeople. Get out of the metropolis and you will meet manual workers without money, status or travel experience who are well in the swim, talking about science, history and art: plugged in to everything worth hearing by Radio 4. OK, there are not as many of them as there are couch potatoes or pop fans, but there are enough who will say to you that it is their university and their friend.

So whatever happens to BBC funding, someone had better put a ring-fence up around high-quality radio. Because TV bosses will never love it enough, and it will never be the sort of operation that flourishes in a scramble for money and quick fame. If its skills vanish, it will take another century to rebuild them"

I hope that this article is read. The appointment of the next Chair of the BBC Trust is going to be important. It will be important because in the next few years the future of the BBC will be decided. AND the only way that a public service broadcaster will survive that process is for that public to be informed and fight for what should be a public service.

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