Politics: Parliament to get more airtime in BBC rejig

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The Independent Online
THE BBC has reacted to concern from MPs about its planned coverage of Parliament by increasing the amount of airtime given to Westminster while at the same time making it harder to find.

Yesterday In Parliament, Radio 4's morning Westminster round-up, is to be reduced to broadcasting just on long wave. But as a sop to MPs who signed an Early Day Motion when it was rumoured to be ending altogether, the programme will be extended from 14 minutes a day to 23 minutes a day. Listeners who wish to tune in to politics will be warned about the frequencies splitting, while Radio 4 FM continues with the Today programme until 9am.

The evening Westminster round-up, Today in Parliament, survives but In Committee is to be replaced by a new general politics show, The Westminster Hour. The Week in Westminster, the weekly round-up of politics hosted by guest newspaper journalists, is losing its prime Radio 4 Saturday morning slot, and will move to 8.30pm on Thursday.

On television, the discussion show The Midnight Hour and round-up show On The Record are to be scrapped. They will be replaced by a nightly programme which will combine discussion and a review of daily Westminster events. This will air at midnight on BBC 2 from Monday to Thursday.

In all, the BBC is claiming an extra 79 hours of coverage of Parliament a year on radio and television combined.

The changes to Radio 4's morning schedule are designed to counter a dramatic reduction in the number of listeners when Yesterday in Parliament starts.