Radio 3 prompts chorus of disapproval by dropping its commitment to classical

They are only nine words but to a key sector of the BBC Radio 3 audience they mean everything. "Classical music remains at the heart of the schedule," said the station's entry in the annual programme policy document last year.

They are only nine words but to a key sector of the BBC Radio 3 audience they mean everything. "Classical music remains at the heart of the schedule," said the station's entry in the annual programme policy document last year.

This time around the words were not there, replaced instead by a rather woollier commitment to a "broad spectrum" of listening pleasures that also included world music and jazz.

The influential listeners' group Friends of Radio 3 was alarmed, immediately promising to write to Roger Wright, the station's controller, demanding an explanation for the apparent lack of commitment to the form of music for which the station is traditionally known.

Sarah Spilsbury, a spokeswoman for the group, said: "They don't claim to be the classical music station any more and we feel sad about that. I think they desperately don't want that mantle."

Last year, Radio 3 made its pledge to put classical music at the "heart of the schedule" and promised programmes to mark the centenaries of Prokofiev, Berkeley and Mravinsky.

Ms Spilsbury said her group would be writing to Mr Wright to say: "What motivated you to remove it. What's the thinking behind not having it any more?" She said: "We have to clarify this. It looks very gloomy as far as we are concerned."

Classical music fans have become disconcerted that their shows have been pushed to what they consider to be the margins of the schedule. Before the policy statement was published, the Friends sent a document to the BBC expressing concern that the amount of classical music coverage was diminishing.

The document was signed by, among others, the composers Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Alexander Goehr, Robin Holloway and Hugh Wood; the musicians Antony Hopkins and Christopher Robinson; the actors Prunella Scales and Timothy West; and the writers Anthony Sampson, Anthony Thwaite, Raymond Briggs, Jan Morris and Stanley Sadie.

The group said: "The position of FoR3 is that if Radio 3 is to have a broader remit, including a wide range of contemporary music and contemporary cultural issues, Radio 3 management should address the fact that, as a result, coverage of classic drama/poetry and the classical music repertoire must necessarily be eroded."

The statement went on to claim that what had been lost was not being offered elsewhere by the BBC despite the growth of digital broadcasting. The group complains that more than 40 per cent of the evening (7.30pm-midnight) music programming is now non-classical. It said: "Radio 3's long-standing audience for quality classic and classical broadcasting is now less well-catered than before."

According to Ms Spilsbury, unreasonable demands were being placed on Radio 3's classical music fans, who were being asked to broaden their horizons by listening to evening shows featuring world music and presented by DJs such as John Peel and Gilles Peterson.

She said: "Why Radio 3 listeners have to broaden their horizons rather than those of Radio 1, I don't know. Radio 1 targets a specific audience with specific tastes whereas Radio 3 has to be all things to all people."

This is not the first time that the Friends have complained. Last November the arrival on the Radio 3 schedule of a special programme on the rock musician Frank Zappa prompted unease. On that occasion, the station chose to include Zappa (who famously hated jazz) on the long-running programme Jazz File.

David Samuels, another member of the Friends of Radio 3, said: " Jazz File is one of Radio 3's standard programmes. If they are going to put Frank Zappa on, they are likely to start alienating the jazz fans the way they have the classical fans."

World music, as the Radio 3 policy statement makes clear, is "now established as part of [the station's] regular output". Radio 3 and the world music festival Womad jointly support an annual awards ceremony. Past winners have included the Mexican rock-salsa-cumbia hybrid Los de Abajo, the tango-influenced French group Gotan Project and the Senegalese hip hop trio Daara J.

The Friends believe that their campaigning has cut the amount of pop in Radio 3's music coverage. Radio 3 denied that it was reducing its commitment to classical music. In its statement of programme policy this year, Radio 3 said that more than 50 per cent of the network's music output would be "live or specially recorded concerts", although it did not specify classical music.

It pledged to broadcast more than 150 chamber music concerts and to commission 50 pieces of music in the year.

Mr Wright said yesterday: "We have recently announced our continuing and extensive partnerships with many of the summer music festivals ... so it seems odd for Radio 3 to be asked to defend our commitment to classical music."

A spokeswoman for the station said that more than 80 per cent of the schedule consisted of Western classical music. "If that is not putting it at the heart of the schedule, then I don't know what is," she said.

Suggested Topics
Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

ERP Business/ Implementation Analyst

£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: This is an e...

Software Developer / Software Engineer

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: Combining a passion for Softwa...

Lead Software Developer / Senior Software Developer / Technical Architect

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: Lead Software Developer / Seni...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on