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Classic FM? It’s edited by computer, says Radio 3 in row over dumbing down

ByHannah Furness ARTS CORRESPONDENT graph Breakfast The Tele-

IT HAS spent years being accused of dumbing down, as a long-running rivalry with Classic FM left it facing questions about playing film scores, shorter tracks and allowing presenters to talk too much.

But Radio 3 is preparing to come out fighting, it appears, as it compiles a dossier of evidence in an effort to refute complaints it calls “perplexing”.

In it, station staff attack Classic FM, saying it is “put together by a computer programme”.

BBC chiefs have been told to prove there is an “ocean” of difference between the stations, after Classic FM accused it of “apeing” its populist style.

Radio 3 is due next month to submit an official response to the BBC Trust on its “distinctiveness”, and is already marshalling a step-by-step guide to prove it is not going downmarket. Papers seen by

show thinly veiled jibes at Classic FM, saying claims of ownership of features such as CD of the week and listener polls cannot be “properly described as ‘special pioneering programming’”.

They also note: “Unlike Classic FM, Radio 3 is not put together by a computer programme.”

Staff are stern on other accusations: film scores have been played for years, they say, and speaking in between CD recordings is “hardly a new or pioneering programme format”.

“RadioCentre [which represents commercial stations] marshals its arguments against Radio 3 perplexingly,” the document states.

The formal submission has not yet been compiled, with staff reporting their findings to Alan Davey, the station controller, who will approve the final trust document. Since his arrival a year ago, Mr Davey has cancelled phone-ins and a classical music chart, to counter claims that Radio 3 had strayed too close to its commercial rival.

Sam Jackson, managing editor of Classic FM, said the changes amounted to “tinkering around the very edges of the schedule” and called on Mr Davey to create “clear blue water” between the two stations. “I don’t think licence-fee payers are well served by duplication,” he said.

A source at the BBC said: “The facts suggest there is not just clear blue water between the stations, but a gap of Pacific proportions.”

Mr Jackson said: “The music we play is carefully curated by a team of classical music experts.

“Of course, like every other radio station, we use technology but the suggestion that the music we play is not carefully considered and chosen by producers is wrong.”





Daily Telegraph