Radio 2 bosses defend Sunday Half Hour move


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The Independent Culture

Radio 2 bosses have defended a decision to move one of the BBC's longest-running shows to an early-morning slot and cut the number of hours of religious programming on a Sunday, to the upset of many listeners.

The move for Sunday Half Hour has prompted 147 complaints from the public as the programme shifts from 8.30pm to 6am in a schedule change which takes place in a little over a week

The newly announced revamp by station controller Bob Shennan will also mean faith programming is being reduced by half an hour each Sunday.

Sunday Half-Hour - hosted by Diane-Louise Jordan since last year - was first broadcast in 1940 on the Forces Programme, long before Radio 2 began.

The schedule change will see the programme actually expand to an hour. But it will replace the first hour of Good Morning Sunday which will become a two-hour programme from January 20, the day Clare Balding takes over as host from Aled Jones.

It will mean an overall drop of 30 minutes in Radio 2's faith shows on a Sunday.

The new 6am slot usually attracts an audience of around 520,000, which is double the numbers who would usually be listening to the evening programme.

The BBC said the decision to move the show "has not been taken lightly".

In a statement on the BBC's complaints website, it said: "Over the past decade the number of people listening to the programme and on Sunday nights generally has declined significantly, and so we feel it is time to refresh our Sunday evening music offer and that this is also a good time to move Sunday Half Hour alongside our other weekly faith programme Good Morning Sunday.

"The move will enable us to expand the airtime to an hour and broadcast it at a time when there are both more people listening and an expectation to hear faith-related output."

The BBC said the programme could be enjoyed at any time of the day using the iPlayer.

Radio 2 also features a faith slot during Chris Evans's breakfast show.