BBC Asian network announced a new schedule to evolve the station and make it better connect with its very young audience this week.

Asian Network Controller Bob Shennan and Managing Editor Vijay Sharma led a briefing for staff which included messages of support from BBC Director General Mark Thomson, Director of Radio and Music for the changes. Jenny Abramsky and Director of News Helen Boaden outlined to staff the new plans and set out the vision for the station. The new line-up will also re-state the station’s commitment to bringing live British Asian Music to the audiences with further emphasis also on bringing new music talent on the station.

The new schedule will come into effect in April 2006 with presenters and exact staffing arrangements to be confirmed nearer that time.

As part of the major changes, Navinder Bhogal’s current afternoon show is facing the chop with a current affairs programme airing for half an hour between midday and 12:30. From 12:30 to 16:00 a show featuring culture, arts, media and entertainment will air. It is not yet known where Navinder Bhogal will be situated in the new line-up.

Another change taking place is with the removal of the overnight link with BBC World Service. From April, the station will connect with BBC Five Live for an overnight feed.

With English programmes dominating the schedule during the day next year, the newly branded “language zone” will air between 19:00 and 22:00 daily.

Planned for the weekend is a new music programme on a Saturday evening committed to unearthing new unsigned British Asian talent from the underground giving artists first plays veering off the traditional Asian Network playlist. A dance music slot is being launched for the 18:00 band, which will air for three hours, followed by a fusion show until midnight that will experiment new music. A chill-out zone will then air from 2am.

With the new changes, the Asian Network is reducing the language show hours from 7.5 to 3 hours on Saturday but increase from 7 hours to 11 hours on Sunday. Overall, average language hours per day across the week will reduce from 5.2 to 4.1 hours.

Bob Shennan, Controller of Radio Five Live was made responsible for the station at the end of 2004. Vijay Sharma, Managing Editor was asked with Bob Shennan to make the changes that we believe will take on board the Gardam recommendations, help grow the station and take it forward into a new era, reflecting its young audience.

The Asian Network is due to undergo a significant evolution to complete the transition from a local station to a national digital station. This includes investment in key new posts and schedule changes. This is a major investment in staff and one of the early examples of Value for Money changes that have taken place across the BBC.

The BBC Asian Network has appointed Five Live’s Husain Husaini to head the news at the Asian station. The head of music position has is still vacant and may remain like that until early next year.