Downloading trouble at the BBC

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The Independent Online

This week the BBC will announce there have been more than a million downloads of the symphonies during the month-long scheme. But the initiative has infuriated the bosses of leading classical record companies who argue the offer undermines the value of music and that any further offers would be unfair competition.

Managing director of the Naxos label, Anthony Anderson, said: "I think there is a question of whether a publicly funded broadcaster should be doing this and there is the obvious issue that it is devaluing the perceived value of music. You are also leading the public to think that it is fine to download and own these files for nothing."

Ralph Couzens, managing director of the Chandos label said: "We have to pay premium prices to record big orchestras and pay full union rates and we have to pass those costs on to the consumer. If the BBC is going to offer recordings for free, that is going to be a major problem."

But Roger Wright, controller of Radio 3 did not rule out further downloads, but said there was no strategy to extend the "experiment" at this stage.

"We are as surprised as everyone that this has been so popular," he said.