Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to the Editor of The Times

Letter No.: 
February 15, [1958]

Twice last year you allowed some of us to express in your columns our grave concern about the likely effect of the changes then forecast in the B.B.C.'s new policies for sound broadcasting.
The recent report of the Sound Broadcasting Society makes it abundantly clear that our fears were only too well grounded.  In the last quarter of 1957 the corporation has fallen wofully1 short of its duties to the public.  It has made its Light Programme comparable in triviality to a commercial sound programme, and lower in quality than any service put out by a broadcasting monopoly anywhere in the world.
The move is in the direction of effortless listening and indicates a complete willingness to give up the struggle of requiring audiences to make an effort; yet this is the purpose of all educaiton, and education is one of the three things the B.B.C. is, by the terms of its Charter, charged to disseminate.  At the same time the truncation of the Third Programme has brought about the precise results which we predicted and deplored: nor has the Home Service been unaffected by the new dispensation.
Why has this debasement been so much greater that the Corporation was prepared to admit last year?  Is the trend to continue?  Will any of the very moderate proposals put forward by the Sound Broadcasting Society last July, including the extension of the Third Programme until midnight, now or ever be adopted?  We ask the new Chairman of the B.B.C.'s Governors now to answer these vital questions - and to refute, if any refutation be possible the lamentable inference which we and the public must otherwise draw from the facts.
Yours faithfully,
A.J. Ayer, Arthur Bliss, Adrian C. Boult, T.S. Eliot, E.M. Forster, Christopher Fry, John Gielgud, Russell, Michael Tippett, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Peter Laslett

1.  sic.


General notes: 

Printed in The Times newspaper, Wednesday, 19 February 1958, headed "B.B.C. programmes".

The Times (no.54079), Wednesday, February 19, 1958, p.9.