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Last Updated: Monday, 18 December 2006, 17:46 GMT
Radio 3 'dumbing down', say MPs
Ilan Volkov conducting the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
The BBC Trust has issued licences for all BBC radio services
Proposals to reduce the amount of live music on Radio 3 have been attacked by MPs on both sides of the Commons.

"Isn't this yet another example of cultural dumbing down which will reduce listener choice?" asked Michael Fallon, Conservative member for Sevenoaks.

Labour MP John Robertson, meanwhile, asked Culture, Media and Sport minister Shaun Woodward to "have a word" with the BBC about regional live music.

Radio 3 has said its commitment to live music remains as strong as ever.

However, it admitted last month there would be fewer concerts broadcast live.

'Absolutely essential'

Under the terms of the station's service licence - issued on Monday - it is required to ensure that 50% of its music output consists of live or specially recorded music each year.

It is also required to broadcast at least 500 live or specially recorded performances each year.

Mr Woodward told Mr Fallon these conditions were "absolutely essential" and "crucial".

"I think that is a very noble objective for the BBC and I think it does safeguard the problems you worry about," he added.

A Radio 3 spokeswoman told the BBC News website that the station's "commitment to live music, orchestras and venues throughout the UK is at the heart of the new schedule".

"Following the changes, the proportion of specially recorded live music featured on the station will actually increase."

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