Writers’ Guild accuses BBC of “cultural vandalism”

Writers’ Guild general secretary Bernie Corbett has accused the BBC of “pointless cultural vandalism” following the news that Radio 4 is to cut the number of dramatic readings it broadcasts from next year.

The station’s controller, Gwyneth Williams, announced last week that the number of short stories broadcast by Radio 4 will be reduced from three to one a week from the spring next year.

Responding, Corbett said: “‘Here is yet another meaningless cut that will save Radio 4 in a whole year less than the cost of a single coat of paint on the shiny floor of a TV talent show. For six months the BBC has been endlessly ‘consulting’ on its next round of cuts, named without apparent irony Delivering Quality First (DQF), necessitated by the six-year licence fee freeze agreed with the incoming coalition government without any public consultation at all.”

He described short stories as “literary endangered species” which “should be protected.”

He added that Williams should be telling BBC director general Mark Thompson that Radio 4 and its listeners “will simply not put up with any more of this pointless cultural vandalism”.

A spokeswoman for the BBC said Radio 4 will still commission around 100 short stories a year from next year – 50 of which will be broadcast first on Radio 4 Extra.

“Radio 4 will continue to support the National Short Story Award, with all five short-listed stories broadcast across the week. Radio 4 also continues to broadcast its popular reading strands Book of the Week and Book at Bedtime and promote books and reading in programmes such as A Good Read, Open Book and Book Club. Dramatisations of works of fiction can also be heard in the Classic Serial and the Woman’s Hour drama. Radio 4 Extra also commissions a number of abridged book readings throughout the year,” she said.

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