SoA takes short story campaign to BBC chief

SoA takes short story campaign to BBC chief

The Society of Authors, the Writers' Guild of Great Britain and actors' union Equity have jointly sent letters to both BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten and director general Mark Thompson, asking them to stop the BBC Radio 4 cuts to the short story.

The letter, signed by SoA general secretary Nicola Solomon, Writers' Guild general secretary Bernie Corbett and Equity general secretary Christine Payne, suggests that the decision to cut the number of slots for new writing on Radio 4 from three to two, and the number of listener slots from four to two, is in breach of the broadcaster's charter.

The letter states: "We are deeply concerned at these proposed cuts and believe that they will lead to the BBC breaching its charter and particularly its duty to stimulate creativity and cultural excellence." It praises short stories as "a versatile and flexible medium", experiencing "a revival in popularity".

It expresses concerns over the lost of the mid-week short story slots, and urges the recipients to "press Radio 4 not to cut the mid-week slots, which are of such importance to writers and listeners".

The letter also calls on the BBC to further follow through on its support for the BBC National Short Story Award by demonstrating the importance of the medium on its airwaves. It said: "We believe that these cuts are symptomatic of a wider threat to radio drama by the lack of resources allocated to it by the BBC resulting in the number of productions being reduced. We fear that, if the number of productions continues to drop, radio drama could sink below the critical mass that will keep it viable."

Solomon, Payne and Corbett express concern at the way the decision was reached, with seemingly no "consideration of the impact of these cuts" and "no consultation", and invited a meeting with Patten and Thompson.

Additionally, the National Short Story Week petition against the cuts has continued to gather signatures, now reaching over 6,000.