Extra time! Radio 4 spin-off could be spared the axe as boss reveals closure is ‘not a done deal’
- In May, BBC said Radio 4 Extra would not air as a traditional station in the future
- Fears were raised that many elderly and vulnerable listeners may get left behind
- BBC director of speech, Mohit Bakaya has now said closure is ‘not a done deal’
Radio 4’s spin-off station could be saved despite plans by the BBC to stop it broadcasting, its boss has hinted.
In May, the BBC said Radio 4 Extra would not air as a traditional station in the future as part of its ‘digital-first’ strategy.
The station, which attracts about 1.7million weekly listeners, mainly airs classic archive shows, including The Goon Show, Maigret and Hancock’s Half Hour.
Fears have been raised that many elderly and vulnerable listeners may get left behind if the corporation rushes to become an internet-only broadcaster.
In May, the BBC said Radio 4 Extra would not air as a traditional station in the future as part of its ‘digital-first’ strategy
But BBC director of speech, Mohit Bakaya, who runs Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra, has now said the closure is ‘not a done deal’.
He told Radio 4’s audience response show Feedback: ‘There was an announcement… as part of kind of the BBC becoming more of a digital-first outfit and that is just simply for the BBC to be successful in a modern world.
‘And also the BBC obviously has limited funds and so a decision was made to stop 4 Extra… It’s not a done deal. It’s something which was direction of travel.’
One of the station’s listeners told him: ‘Many of us are old… at the moment it’s the only thing that can lighten our darkness, so to speak, and make us feel that there is something out there to entertain us.’
Last night, campaign group for over-60s Silver Voices called on the BBC to abandon the proposal to close the station.
Its director Dennis Reed said: ‘It’s because of the disdain, in a way, that they are treating their older audiences.
‘They are experimenting with moving to digital because it’s only older listeners who listen to it. Maybe they want to change Radio 4 Extra into a more youth-orientated programme.’
A BBC spokesman said: ‘We said in May we expect to stop broadcasting some smaller linear services such as Radio 4 Extra as the BBC becomes digital-first.
That remains the plan and the comments during this interview reflect this.
‘We’ve also been clear that it won’t happen for at least three years and decisions about how listeners continue to enjoy Radio 4 Extra shows haven’t yet been made.’