LETTERS : Radio must listen to children's choice

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The Independent Online
From Ms Liz Forgan Sir: Sarah MacNiell ("The lost generation of radio", 20 December) is entitled to her viewpoint, but some of her facts must be challenged.

The decision to close Radio 5 was all about the audience. BBC Radio did not abandon children: the children abandoned ``children's programming'' in huge numbers in favour of television and, more recently, of story tapes, computer games, music and videos -entertainment which they can schedule themselves.

The sad truth is that even the most successful of Radio 5's children's programmes reached only a tiny fraction of its target audience. The latest Radio 5 Live figures, however, show 38,000 children listening to sport between 4pm and 5pm on a Saturday afternoon because they enjoy it. Two million children tune in to Radio 1 each week for the same reason. At the same time BBC Radio continues to provide some targeted children's programmes on Radio 4 as well as series like Batman on Radio 1 and The Music Machine on Radio 3.

In an age of broadcasting choice, responding to the real needs of our audiences in an obligation on the BBC. We will not serve them by heeding rose-tinted memories of royal princesses in a bygone, pre-television age, however charming and nostalgic such images are for those of us who are children no longer.

Yours sincerely, LIZ FORGAN Managing Director, Network Radio BBC London W1

20 December