Flagship Radio 4 programmes switch to Facebook

Listeners to the Today Programme or The World At One on Radio 4 may have noticed a significant change in the back-announcements from presenters since the turn of the year.

Whereas we used to be told that we could – for example – see photographs of a subject discussed on the programme ‘on our website’, we are now directed to ‘our Facebook pages‘.

John Humphrys in the Today studio (Photo: BBC)


Does the change make any difference? For one thing, it means you have to be signed up for Facebook to see the material, so it is no longer accessible to anyone on the world wide web – it’s part of a growing ‘closed’ network. For another, it means the BBC is no longer the ultimate ‘curator’ of that material, which may have long-term implications for the archive.

It’s all part of a major redesign of the BBC’s websites, which many will see as a downgrade. Most programmes will now have only an ‘automated’ web page rather than a dedicated page with custom-built content.

In another major change, the BBC Trust has decided to allow the World Service to run advertising on some websites and radio programmes.

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About James Stewart

Senior Lecturer in Radio Journalism. http://staff.glam.ac.uk/users/1713-jstewart
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3 Responses to Flagship Radio 4 programmes switch to Facebook

  1. Caitriona Noonan says:

    I agree this is an interesting shift. It also raises questions about editorial control. Both programmes mentioned generate significant dicusssion and indeed the Today programme is often cited as setting the daily news agenda. While I don’t agree with all the BBC’s moderation of its websites, it does try to maintain a rational debate and weed out those who are trying to incite hatred or discrimination – the question remains whether they will still be able to perform this function outside their own sites.

  2. theagingfanboy says:

    You’d think that they could save money by not employing freelance presenters like Mr Humphries. I’d prefer the programme to be presented by the staff journalists, and the top presenters can go and sneer somewhere else.

    Do you thnk that if enough of us say that on the Facebook page the BBC might listen?

  3. theagingfanboy says:

    Interesting edit of my post. I do think that BBC news programmes are a bit precious about web-based material. I’ve heard the comment that “there have been 9000 tweets on this subject”. Did anyone read them? Another ploy is to ask for listener comment and ask listeners to enter “PM” or something into Google, rather than giving the email address directly, presumably pushing the traffic ratings up in the process.
    Which brings me to the deleted comment, it’s style over substance. And as you say in the post, the listener is the one who will suffer. You’ll just get presenters recycling someone else’s copy and bragging about the number of Facebrook friends.

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