Letter: Sex and race don't matter in Virgin music

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The Independent Online
Sir: I was interested to read Robin Katz's piece on Virgin Radio ('I don't call that rock, it's just dead boring white males', 21 July). Since we have only been broadcasting for three months, we are still open to suggestions and ideas to improve what we are doing.

The key issues raised seemed to be the lack of female and black artists. In part we accept the criticism and will be playing more of both in the future. However, Virgin Radio aims to provide quality, broad adult rock, and every track played has to satisfy that one criterion. Sex and race are not, and would never be, an issue. Different genres of music have different profiles of artists. For example, a reggae, rap or Motown station would feature an overwhelming number of black musicians. Would anyone complain of a bias against white performers?

UK radio, sadly, is still behind the US in the number of commercial licences available. Although London has Kiss, more national licences would provide some of the music formats mentioned above, and therefore more balance. However, listeners should be free to choose their radio station by music format and not an artificially balanced schedule according to the sex and nationality of its musicians.

The statement that we have failed to hit our audience target is untrue. Rajar, the industry body responsible for all BBC and independent radio audience measurement, gives us our first audited figures on Friday 30 July. Our internal research makes us confident of achieving our original projection. We believe that we already have more than 3 million regular listeners.

Yours sincerely,

RICHARD SKINNER

Joint Programme Director

Virgin Radio

London, W1

22 July

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