BBC delays 24-hour radio news service

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The Independent Online
THE BBC's governors made a partial climb-down yesterday over their plan to use Radio 4 long wave for a continuous news service.

The proposal infuriated many who receive poor FM reception.

The BBC has delayed the start date by three months, to 5 April 1994, to allow gaps in the nationwide chain of FM transmitters to be filled. And it gave a commitment that Radio 4 would remain on long wave until 'transmission arrangements meet the listeners' needs throughout the UK'.

Nick MacKinnon, Winchester- based organiser of the Save Radio 4 Long Wave campaign, said last night: 'All they remain to be convinced about now is that long wave is the best possible wavelength. What about people on the Island of Mull who can only receive long wave? I congratulate the governors for acting, as they should, in the public interest.' The London march on Broadcasting House, planned for Saturday, 24 October, would go ahead.

Top management at the BBC have been divided over the expansion into continuous news. David Hatch, managing director of BBC Radio, has warned the governors of the dangers of doing anything to harm Radio 4.

The governors' statement says: 'The governors are firmly committed to the concept of a continuous news service. Since the purpose of the news service is to increase choice, not to reduce it, we have an equally strong commitment to offer Radio 4 in the best quality to those who value it.'

The BBC will also transmit the Radio 4 signal through the Astra satellite, which can be picked up in Europe.