British composers lay in to BBC Radio 3 chief

British composers lay in to BBC Radio 3 chief


norman lebrecht

March 20, 2019

The Radio 3 boss has been cutting into bedrock broadcasting.

Open letter to Alan Davey, Controller, Radio 3


Don’t Cut BBC Late Junction and Jazz Now

19th March 2019

Dear Mr Davey,

When questions arise as to whether Radio 3 is ‘dumbing down’, our first line of defence as composers is to site those programmes which uphold the BBC’s mission statement ‘to enrich people’s lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain.’

This would include Composer Of The Week, Hear And Now, the live evening concerts, Music Matters, Record Review, Private Passions etc. but particularly Late Junction and Jazz Now.

Late Junction and Jazz Now are important. They are varied and unpredictable and explore areas that no other programmes do. They provide exposure to some of the most under represented artists and cultures. Late Junction cuts across genres and is gender blind. These last two elements alone are culturally vital at this time and make it a beacon of public service broadcasting.

Late Junction and Jazz Now self-evidently ‘inform, educate and entertain’. We are therefore particularly concerned to learn of the BBC’s decision to cut the weekly broadcasts of Late Junction from three to one and that Jazz Now is to be axed.

BASCA represents music creators in their totality and no other BBC programmes support such a wide variety of living writers and performers with such consistency and erudition.

We respectfully request that you reconsider your decisions.

BASCA is supporting the ‘Don’t Cut BBC Late Junction’ online petition and we call on all creators and believers in musical diversity across the UK to campaign to save both programmes.

Yours sincerely,

Gary Carpenter, Chair of the BASCA Classical Committee and BASCA Director
Issie Barratt, Chair of the BASCA Jazz Committee and BASCA Director


UPDATE: Here is Davey’s rationale.


  • Harrumph says:

    These programmes are important but so is spelling. The word is cite, not site.

  • Viola da Bracchio says:

    And now here’s a Shipping Forecast update… warnings of storms in areas Cromarty, Viking, and Teacup.

  • Will Duffay says:

    There was also a good letter in the Guardian, signed by a large number of people:

  • Nik says:

    Ah, but now we have a show that “demystifies” opera, which means we get to listen to random celebrities saying that they tried an opera and it wasn’t as bad as they thought it would be.

  • SVM says:

    Re: “our first line of defence as composers”

    Why would any self-respecting composer continue to defend Radio 3? There may arguably have been times in the past when it did a lot for some living composers, but not in the last decade…

    Or do these composers defend Radio 3 because they lack imagination/idealism to conceive of a better alternative? Or is “going on record to defend/support the Beeb” (despite its corruption, bias, and trivialisiation of worthwhile music) now a prerequisite to getting the slightest crumb of airtime?

    • Viola da Bracchio says:

      BBC Radio 3 is a wilted and parochial station, which finds employment for former Oxbridge choral scholars.

      Of course, the Beeb has a perfect right to broadcast whatever it likes, however it wants. But to claim that this backward-looking relic of a bygone age represents ‘the world of classical music’ is too funny for words.

      But when it comes to marking a composer’s anniversary, they will stack up the discs, and churn out every last juvenile twiddle that they wrote, and broadcast it around the clock (regardless of listener figures). Who recalls their celebration of British music – Purcell, Handel, Haydn, and Mendelssohn?

      Still, it keeps the chaps and chappesses off the dole queues, eh, what? Now, who’s for another toasted teacake?

  • Mark says:

    Oh dear, poor old BASCA. It’s no great loss and will only improve Radio 3. Why not enforce some musical “diversity” on Radio 1 or 2 for a change by moving them to those channels ?

  • Ian Davies says:

    Interesting that the outcry/petitions/letters come mainly from those protesting at the cuts to jazz and Late Junction. What about the proposed change to Hear and Now – to become ‘The New Music Show’ as from next week? Do the protesters also object to the trivialisation of all the ‘entry-level’ classical programmes? Or is Radio 3 considered the default overflow station for programmes that could well feature elsewhere on BBC services (on the grounds that they don’t feature there)?