BBC Radio 4 seems to have performed a partial u-turn on its decision to cut the number of short stories it airs from three to one per week, with a compromise of two weekly broadcasts.
Listeners, authors and celebrities such as Joanna Lumley and Stephen Fry are among 5,500 of those who signed an online petition opposing the move to reduce the number of short stories aired, which was borne out of Radio 4 controller Gwyneth Williams’s desire to extend the programme "The World at One".
The station has now decided it will broadcast two stories a week, on Friday afternoon and Sunday evening.
However, Nicola Solomon, general secretary of The Society of Authors, told the Guardian: "There are several questions that still need to be asked. Will they all be brand new writing, or are they stories that already exist? Friday and Sunday means there will be no midweek stories, and that is still an enormous loss."
The BBC has denied the decision to air two instead of just one short story a week is a climb-down, saying instead that it had simply now had a chance to iron out some of the "finer details" of its scheduling.
A BBC spokesperson said: "We had to announce the schedule changes a few weeks ago as we were having to inform suppliers and production teams about the new schedule. At that time we weren't in a position to go into the finer details of the new schedule. In our plans for short stories we also had to look across two schedules—Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra—which made the matter more complicated."
Other people to oppose the short story cut are authors Ian Rankin, A S Byatt, Sarah Waters and Kate Atkinson.