Just in: BBC Radio 3 is ordered to be ‘more different’ from Classic FM

Just in: BBC Radio 3 is ordered to be ‘more different’ from Classic FM


norman lebrecht

March 19, 2015

A series of edicts have come down from the BBC Trust today on the positioning of its radio stations. The most radical is a drastic cut to live music output on Radio 1.

Classical Radio 3 escapes fairly unscathed except for a stipulation that it should make its output more recognisable:

Radio 3’s distinctiveness from commercial station Classic FM has also been debated extensively. While Radio 3 overall is a distinctive station, in terms of its approach to classical music and mix of other programming, there are some parts of the schedule where similarities exist. Radio 3 should seek to increase choice for radio listeners by minimising any programmes and features that are similar to Classic FM’s. It should focus on its strengths, by maximising its distinctiveness across its whole output, without sacrificing the combination of expertise and accessibility that has been achieved in recent years.

The Trust also called for a small cut in drama on Radio 3.

Full report here.


bbc radio 3


  • Nigel Harris says:

    This sounds like good news. Radio 3 has certainly lost me as a listener in recent years, mainly because of its apparent determination to ape Classic FM; and if this edict heralds more ‘full’ works and live music, and less cosiness, focus on ‘presenters’ and, above all, chat, then I’ll return straightaway. It would be great to think R3 might also now make a better fist of interesting a new, younger audience in (as Julian Lloyd Webber rightly put it) not ‘classical’ music, but music that really challenges, deepens and enriches.

  • Sarah Spilsbury says:

    One tiny point, Norman: as far as Radio 3 is concerned, the Trust hasn’t delivered an ‘edict’ (‘that which is proclaimed by authority as a rule of action’ – OED) since editorial policy lies with the BBC managers, not the Trust. What the Trust says is usually introduced by a ‘We (do not) think …’ Radio 3 does emerge ‘fairly unscathed’, as you say, but the Trust has been much more willing to accept the criticisms of Classic FM and (be it said!) of Friends of Radio 3 than they were in the last review.

    The problem of introducing new – and particularly young – audiences to the ‘classic arts’ in general is one the BBC should face, and Radio 3 should play its part. We at FoR3 felt that an editorial strategy which lost listeners who were its natural audience was, putting it at its mildest, counterproductive … That doesn’t mean Radio 3 should cease to evangelise altogether.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Point taken, Sarah. But in a bureaucracy like the BBC, Trust recommendations have the force of law, to which all controllers pay lip-service.

  • Sarah Spilsbury says:

    I’d probably interpret the reality slightly differently as regards the relationship between Trust (the “sovereign body”) and management: Trust proposes, management disposes. The Players become very adept at hoodwinking the Gentlemen when they explain why this or that can or can’t be done. 6Music was saved more by the power of the people than anything else.

    I hereby declare an interest in being more kindly disposed (even sympathetic) towards both the Trust and Radio 3 ‘s new controller than many/most have been! I expect good things to happen at Radio 3, and that doesn’t mean becoming narrow or conservative in its outlook.