|Broadcast area||United Kingdom|
|Frequency|| FM: 92–95 MHz, 103–105 MHz|
LW: 198 kHz
MW: 603 kHz, 720 kHz, 774 kHz, 756 kHz, 1449 kHz, 1485 kHz
Freesat: 704 (FM), 710 (LW)
Freeview: 704 (FM)
Sky (UK only): 0104 (FM), 0143 (LW)
Virgin Media: 904 (FM), 911 (LW)
Virgin Media Ireland: 910 (FM)
|Format||News, talk, comedy and drama|
|BBC Radio 4 Extra|
First air date
|1 September 1939 (as BBC Home Service )|
30 September 1967 (as BBC Radio 4)
Former call signs
|BBC Home Service|
|Website||BBC Radio 4|
BBC Radio 4 is a British national radio station owned and operated by the BBC. It broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes including news, drama, comedy, science and history from the BBC's headquarters at Broadcasting House, London. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967.The station controller is Mohit Bakaya.
Radio 4 broadcasts throughout the UK, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands on FM, LW and DAB and on BBC Sounds.It can be received in the eastern counties of Ireland, the north of France and Northern Europe. It is also available through Freeview, Sky, and Virgin Media.
Radio 4 is notable for news bulletins and programmes such as Today and The World at One , heralded on air by the Greenwich Time Signal pips or the chimes of Big Ben. The pips are only accurate on FM, LW, and MW; there is a delay on digital radio of three to five seconds and online up to twenty-three seconds. Radio 4 broadcasts the Shipping Forecast which, in August 2017, was 150 years old.
Radio 4 is the second-most-popular British domestic radio station by total hours, million listeners, in May 2011, and was "UK Radio Station of the Year" at the 2003, 2004 and 2008 Sony Radio Academy Awards. It also won a Peabody Award in 2002 for File on 4: Export Controls. Costing £71.4 million (2005/6), it is the BBC's most expensive national radio network and is considered by many to be its flagship. There is no comparable British commercial network: Channel 4 abandoned plans to launch its own speech-based digital radio station in October 2008 as part of a £100m cost cutting review.after Radio 2. It recorded its highest audience, of 11
In 2019, Mohit Bakaya replaced Gwyneth Williams, who had been the station controller since 2010.
Music and sport are the only fields that largely fall outside the station's remit. It broadcasts occasional concerts, and documentaries related to various forms of both popular and classical music, and the long-running music-based Desert Island Discs . Prior to the creation of BBC Radio 5 it broadcast sports-based features, notably Sport on Four , and since the creation of BBC Radio 5 Live in 1994, the station has become the home of ball-by-ball commentaries of most Test cricket matches played by England. The coverage is broadcast on long wave. Consequently, for around 70 days a year, listeners have to rely on FM broadcasts or DAB for mainstream Radio 4 broadcasts – the number relying solely on long wave is now a small minority. The cricket broadcasts take precedence over on-the-hour news bulletins, but not the Shipping Forecast, carried since its move to long wave in 1978 because that can be received clearly at sea.
As well as news and drama, the station has a strong reputation for comedy, including experimental and alternative comedy, many successful comedians and comedy shows first appearing on the station. Following the six o'clock news from Monday to Friday, the station normally broadcasts a thirty-minute comedy programme.
The station is available on FM in most of Great Britain, parts of Ireland and the north of France; LW throughout the UK and in parts of Northern Europe, and the Atlantic north of the Azores to about 20 degrees west; MW in some areas; DAB; Digital TV including Freeview, Freesat, Sky and Virgin Media, and on the Internet. Freesat, Sky and Virgin have a separate channel which broadcasts the Radio 4 LW output in mono, in addition to the FM output.
The station is the UK's national broadcaster in times of national emergency such as war, due to the wide coverage of the Droitwich signal: if all other radio stations were forced to close, it would carry on broadcasting.[ citation needed ]
The longwave signal is part of the Royal Navy's system of letters of last resort. In the event of a suspected catastrophic attack on Britain, submarine captains, in addition to other checks, check for a broadcast signal from Radio 4 on 198 longwave to verify the annihilation of organised society in Great Britain.
The BBC Home Service was the predecessor of Radio 4 and broadcast between 1939 and 1967. It had regional variations and was broadcast on medium wave with a network of VHF FM transmitters being added from 1955. Radio 4 replaced it on 30 September 1967, when the BBC renamed many of its domestic radio stations, kHz frequency (1500 metres) previously held by Radio 2 - later moved to 198 kHz as a result of international agreements aimed at avoiding interference (all ITU Region 1 MW/LW broadcast frequencies are divisible by 9). At this point, Radio 4 became available across all of the UK for the first time and the station officially became known as Radio 4 UK, a title that remained until September 1984.in response to the challenge of offshore radio. It moved to long wave in November 1978, taking over the 200
For a time during the 1970s Radio 4 carried regional news bulletins Monday to Saturday. These were broadcast twice at breakfast, at lunchtime and at 5.55p.m. There were also programme variations for the parts of England not served by BBC Local Radio stations. These included Roundabout East Anglia , a VHF opt-out of the Today programme broadcast from BBC East's studios in Norwich each weekday from 6.45 a.m. to 8.45 a.m. Roundabout East Anglia came to an end in mid-1980 ahead of the launch of BBC Radio Norfolk.
All regional news bulletins broadcast from BBC regional news bases around England ended in August 1980, apart from in the southwest as until January 1983 there was no BBC Local Radio in the southwest so these news bulletins and its weekday morning regional programme, Morning Sou'West , continued to be broadcast from the BBC studios in Plymouth on VHF and on the Radio 4 medium wave Plymouth relay until 31 December 1982.
The launch of Radio 5 on 27 August 1990 saw the removal of Open University, schools programming, children's programmes and the Study on 4/Options adult education slot from Radio 4's FM frequencies. Consequently, the full Radio 4 schedule became available on FM for the first time. However, adult educational and Open University programming returned to Radio 4 in 1994 when Radio 5 was closed to make way for the launch of BBC Radio 5 Live and were broadcast on Sunday evenings on longwave only.
Between 17 January 1991 and 2 March 1991 FM broadcasts were replaced by a continuous news service devoted to the Gulf War, Radio 4 News FM, with the main Radio 4 service being exclusively on longwave.
In September 1991 it was decided that the main Radio 4 service would be on FM as FM coverage had now extended to cover almost all of the UK - Radio 4 didn't become available on FM in much of Scotland and Wales until the early 1990s. Opt-outs were transferred to longwave: currently Test Match Special , extra shipping forecasts, The Daily Service and Yesterday in Parliament . Longwave very occasionally opts out at other times, such as to broadcast special services, the most recent being when Pope Benedict XVI visited Britain in 2010.
An online schedule page lists the running order of programmes.
Many programmes are pre-recorded. Programmes transmitted live include Today, magazine programme Woman's Hour, consumer affairs programme You and Yours , and (often) the music, film, books, arts and culture programme Front Row . Continuity is managed from Broadcasting House with news bulletins, including the hourly summaries and longer programmes such as the Six O'Clock News and Midnight News, and news programmes such as Today, The World at One and PM, which by early 2013 had returned to Broadcasting House after 15 years at BBC Television Centre in White City.The news returning to Broadcasting House has also meant that newsreaders can provide cover for continuity, which regularly occurs at 23:00 each night and 16:00 on a Sunday. This has reduced the total number of continuity announcers required each day down from four to three.
The Time Signal, known as 'the pips', is broadcast every hour to herald the news bulletin, except at midnight and 18:00, where the chimes of Big Ben are played. There is no Greenwich Time Signal during the Saturday Afternoon Drama at 15:00 on Radio 4 on Saturdays either. Only pips broadcast on FM/MW/LW are accurate. On all digital platforms they are in delay by between 3 and 5 seconds and even longer online (up to 23 seconds).
Radio 4 programmes cover a wide variety of genre including news and current affairs, history, culture, science, religion, arts, drama and light entertainment. A number of the programmes on Radio 4 take the form of a "magazine" show, featuring numerous small contributions over the course of the programme— Woman's Hour , From Our Own Correspondent , You and Yours . The rise of these magazine shows is primarily due to the work of Tony Whitby, controller of Radio 4 from 1970 to 1975.
The station hosts a number of long-running programmes, many of which have been broadcast for over 40 years.
Most programmes are available for four weeks after broadcast as streaming audio from Radio 4's listen again pageand via BBC iPlayer. A selection of programmes is also available as podcasts or downloadable audio files. Many comedy and drama programmes from the Radio 4 archives are broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra (formerly BBC Radio 7) which complements the main channel.
Due to the capacity limitations of DAB and increasing sport broadcasts on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Radio 4 DAB has to reduce its bit rate most evenings, such that after 7 p.m. its DAB output is usually in mono, even though many of its programmes are made in stereo (including its flagship drama "The Archers"), these can be heard in stereo only on FM, Digital TV on Freeview & Freesat (Ch. 704), Sky, Virgin and on line via BBC iPlayer radio. BBC World Service, which uses BBC Radio 4 FM & DAB frequencies between 01:00 and 05:20, is in stereo, but only on Radio 4 FM & DAB and not on its own dedicated DAB channel. BBC Radio 4 Extra broadcasts in mono on DAB, but has always been in stereo on Digital TV (Freeview / Freesat Ch 708), Sky, Virgin and online.
Announcers carry out the following duties from Broadcasting House:
Newsreaders read hourly summaries and longer bulletins from New Broadcasting House.In 2012 the BBC announced that it would be reducing its main presentation team from 12 to ten.
Radio 4 is broadcast on:
Criticism voiced by centre-right newspapers in recent years have a perceived left political bias across a range of issues,as well as sycophancy in interviews, particularly on the popular morning news magazine Today as part of a reported perception of a general "malaise" at the BBC. Conversely, the journalist Mehdi Hasan has criticised the station for an overtly "socially and culturally conservative" approach.
There has been criticism of Today in particular for a lack of female broadcasters.In September 1972, Radio 4 employed the first female continuity announcers—Hylda Bamber and Barbara Edwards. For quite some time, the introduction of female newsreaders led to complaints from listeners; women discussing topics of feminist interest led to similar complaints. In addition, there has been long-running criticism by atheist and humanist groups of Thought for the Day, a slot dedicated exclusively to religious discussion during Radio 4's flagship morning news programme.
Radio 4 has been criticised for being too middle class and being of little interest to non-white listeners.
The BBC World Service is an international broadcaster owned and operated by the BBC. It is the world's largest of any kind. It broadcasts radio news, speech and discussions in more than 40 languages to many parts of the world on analogue and digital shortwave platforms, internet streaming, podcasting, satellite, DAB, FM and MW relays. In 2015, The World Service reached an average of 210 million people a week. In November 2016, the BBC announced that it would start broadcasting in additional languages including Amharic and Igbo, in its biggest expansion since the 1940s.
BBC Radio 5 Live is the BBC's national radio service that broadcasts mainly news, sport, discussion, interviews and phone-ins. It is the principal BBC radio station covering sport in the United Kingdom, broadcasting virtually all major sports events staged in the UK or involving British competitors.
The British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) provides radio and television programmes for Her Majesty's Armed Forces, and their dependents worldwide. Editorial control is independent of the Ministry of Defence and the armed forces themselves.
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BBC Radio Nottingham is a BBC Local Radio station serving the English county of Nottinghamshire. It broadcasts on FM, DAB radio and Freeview from studios located on London Road in Nottingham city centre.
BBC Radio Sheffield is the BBC Local Radio service for English metropolitan county of South Yorkshire, North Derbyshire and North Nottinghamshire. This includes the city of Sheffield, plus Rotherham, Doncaster, Barnsley, Chesterfield, Worksop and surrounding areas and broadcasts from a studio complex at 54 Shoreham Street in Sheffield city centre, on 88.6, 94.7, 104.1 FM, 1035 AM, DAB and DTR. It is also available through live streaming on the internet.
BBC Radio Gloucestershire is the BBC Local Radio service for the English county of Gloucestershire, which started on 3 October 1988. It broadcasts from its studios at Portland Court in London Road, Gloucester on DAB, 95 FM (Stroud), 95.8 FM (Cirencester), 104.7 FM, 1413 MW in the Cotswolds & Forest of Dean.
Heart London is a regional radio station owned and operated by Global Radio as part of the Heart network. It broadcasts a hot adult contemporary radio format. In London, it is heard on 106.2 MHz.
BBC Radio Ulster is a Northern Irish radio station from the BBC. It is broadcast from BBC Northern Ireland's Broadcasting House on Ormeau Avenue in Belfast city centre. Radio Ulster was established in New Year's Day 1975, replacing what had been an opt-out of BBC Radio 4 and as a result of the BBC's widely regarded under-reporting of the Ulster Workers' Council strike in May 1974.
BBC Radio Cymru is a Welsh language national radio network operated by BBC Cymru Wales, a division of the BBC. It broadcasts two stations throughout Wales from studios in Cardiff, Bangor, Aberystwyth and Carmarthen on FM, DAB, digital TV and online.
BBC Radio Wales is a Welsh radio station owned and operated by the BBC. It began broadcasting on 13 November 1978, following the demise of the 'Radio 4 Wales' service and BBC Radio 4's transformation into a UK-wide network, moving from medium wave to long wave. Radio Wales broadcasts in English, whilst sister network Radio Cymru has Welsh language programming.
ITV HD is a British free-to-air high-definition television channel operated by ITV plc, the company which is contracted to provide 11 ITV services across the UK. ITV HD is available to view in England, Wales and the Scottish Borders on Freesat via channel 103, Freeview channel 103, Sky channel 103, Virgin Media channel 103 and in Switzerland on SwisscomTV.
Smooth Scotland is a Scottish independent local radio station owned and operated by Global as part of the Smooth network. The station replaced Saga 105.2 FM in 2007.
There are four major forms of digital television (DTV) broadcast in the United Kingdom: a direct-to-home satellite service from the Astra 28.2°E satellites provided by Sky UK, a cable television service provided by Virgin Media ; a free-to-air satellite service called Freesat; and a free-to-air digital terrestrial service called Freeview. In addition, an IPTV system known as BT Vision is provided by BT. Individual access methods vary throughout the country. 77% of the United Kingdom has access to HDTV via terrestrial digital television. Satellite is the only source of HDTV broadcast available for the remaining 23%.
In the United Kingdom, the roll-out of digital radio is proceeding since engineering test transmissions were started by the BBC in 1990 followed by a public launch in September 1995. The UK currently has one of the world's biggest digital radio networks, with about 500 transmitters, three national DAB ensembles and 48 local and regional DAB ensembles broadcasting over 250 commercial and 34 BBC radio stations across the UK. In London there are already more than 100 different digital stations available. In addition to DAB and DAB+, radio stations are also broadcast on digital television platform as well as internet radio in the UK. Digital radio ensemble operators and stations need a broadcasting licence from the UK's media regulator Ofcom to broadcast.
High-definition television in the United Kingdom is available via cable, IPTV, satellite and terrestrial television. The first high-definition broadcasts began in late 2005 and since then the number of channels available to view has grown to a maximum of 87 that can be viewed on pay-TV service, Sky.
The Absolute Radio Network is a network of 7 National Digital Radio stations owned and operated by Bauer Radio. Bauer purchased the TIML Radio Limited network of stations in 2013. Most of the Absolute Radio stations are decade-themed services, alongside the flagship station and a classic rock-formatted station. The network is aimed at 35 to 54 year olds.
Today in Parliament is a British radio programme that covers the daily proceedings of the Palace of Westminster, on BBC Radio 4. When re-broadcast at around 8.30am the next day on longwave and medium wave, it is known as Yesterday in Parliament, similar to The Daily Service. This longwave (LW) signal comes from the Droitwich Transmitting Station. It is produced by BBC News.
This is a list of notable events in the timeline of digital audio broadcasting in the UK.