Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/11/10/bbc_messageboard_rumpus/

BBC in Radio 4 messageboard punch-up

Freedom of speech curtailed, licencepayers claim

By Lester Haines

Posted in Media, 10th November 2006 12:13 GMT

There's a bit of a punch-up going on down at a BBC Radio 4 Today messageboard, after the corporation announced some "important changes" to the same:

There are some important changes taking place to the Today messageboard from November 16 2006.

We want to make the message boards more relevant to the Today audience. We want to involve listeners more in the programme and we believe the best way of doing that is through the message boards. In order to do this more effectively, we have decided to make some alterations to the boards.

We will be closing the five topics that currently exist on this board, and introducing two new ones in their place. These will be:

• Today’s Debate – a topic to discuss the major debates on that day’s Today Programme
• Coming Up… – a topic to discuss issues forthcoming on the programme that you can help us with by sharing your thoughts and opinions

Only messageboard hosts – a mix of producers and journalists - will start new threads inside the topics to help focus discussions around the subjects that we will be featuring on the programme. Each host will monitor their discussions, with the best possibly featuring on air.

On the homepage of the new messageboard there will be a suggestion form so members of the community can suggest future subjects for discussion to the hosts.

We believe these changes will allow the Today programme to better reflect the thoughts and opinions of its listeners, making it more relevant to its audience.

Yup, you've spotted it: "Only messageboard hosts will start new threads". Oh dear. Cue indignation, to which the Beeb replied: "We believe these changes will allow the Today programme to better reflect the thoughts and opinions of its listeners, making it more relevant to its audience."

Yeah right, replied AH:

No you don't. You believe that it will enable you to control what people talk about and will also enable you to avoid talking about "sensitive" issues.

"Your thoughts, your views, your space"

What a joke.

Another disgruntled poster adds:

I can see it now.

"How can people be forced to appreciate the benefits of multiculturalism?"

"George Bush. Evil dictator or sexual pervert?"

"Are YOU a victim of homophobia?"

"Diversity. Fantastic or amazing?"

"How can we unite to defeat the right?"

Etc etc.

We PAY for the BBC. We PAY for this service. We generally don't LIKE the political and ideological agendas of the BBC. So they shut the boards.

And that pretty well sums it up. For further proof of just how unpopular these improvements are, check out this discussion - possibly the last exercise in democracy you'll see down at Today. ®