Radio 4 team 'not too aggressive'

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The Independent Online

Presenters of Radio 4's Today programme are not too aggressive, the BBC's governing body said today.

The BBC Trust looked at comments made by some listeners about Radio 4 news output and its flagship breakfast show, which is famous for the way its most high-profile presenter John Humphrys interrogates guests.

It said that "a small number of respondents" to a public consultation "felt that presenters and journalists on Radio 4 news output could be too aggressive at times" with their style of questioning.

Some listeners felt that presenters on Radio 4 gave their opinions "too freely".

The majority of these comments were concerned with the Today programme, it said, which is presented by James Naughtie, Sarah Montague, Justin Webb and Evan Davis as well as Humphrys.

But the BBC Trust said in a report on the station today: "We note these concerns but do not find any compelling evidence that Radio 4 journalism is too aggressive.

"Our research highlights the appreciation of audiences for the presenters and correspondents. In particular, the Today programme was widely commended by listeners in our research for its accessibility and courage in challenging politicians."

Figures show that Radio 4 received 6,352 complaints in the six months to September 2010, compared with 333 for Radio 3 and 101 for Radio 7.

The trust said: "We are aware that the nature of Radio 4 output - with a substantial audience, a large amount of live programming and a focus on news and current affairs - is such that it may attract more editorial scrutiny and complaints than other BBC radio stations."

The report, which also looked at Radio 3 and digital station Radio 7, said that the station was considered a "national treasure" by listeners and was "much loved and highly valued by the millions of licence fee-payers that listen every week".