by: Rob Sharp
Radio 4, the world's biggest commissioner of short stories, is to cut its broadcast output from three a week to one a week.
The news has been greeted with disdain by authors, who believe the art form is continually denigrated and increasingly ignored by the literary establishment.
The Society of Authors is writing to the BBC to protest about its "disappointing" reduction in output, which comes as the BBC extends the length of its current-affairs programme The World at One by 15 minutes. Short-story writer Susie Maguire is writing to Radio 4 controller Gwyneth Williams to complain about the decision. She said she has amassed more than 80 signatories to her letter so far including writers Toby Litt, Stella Duffy, Hilary Mantel, Philip Pullman, Michael Holroyd and Nicholas Royle.
"The decision is unfortunate, if only because the short story is an ideal form for being read aloud," author Lionel Shriver told The Independent.
A BBC spokesperson confirmed the reduction, but said the corporation would still commission around 100 short stories a year.