Initiatives to attract a younger audience
Dear Sir, Terry Grimley's recent article highlighted an interesting comparison, but it told only part of the story of the wide variety of ages and social groups represented in the CBSO's audiences.

The audience for our triumphant special concert on November 11 was far from typical of our audiences as a whole. This was a unique free event, designed to introduce our core supporters to our next Music Director, Andris Nelsons. As such, nearly all the tickets were issued to our existing members and subscribers, whereas at all our other concerts, our traditional - and yes, older - subscribers are now outnumbered by single ticket buyers, from all age groups.

It is also worth noting that a commerciallypromoted West End show - especially one marketed as raunchily as The Car Man - has always, in every city, appealed to a younger audience than symphonic music.

But young people are frequent attenders at the CBSO's concerts - and the CBSO runs a range of initiatives designed to introduce them to symphonic music.

This season, over 1000 school children will attend CBSO symphonic concerts at Symphony Hall under our Audiences for Tomorrow scheme. On top of this, our acclaimed Family Concerts introduced orchestral music to a further 6,248 audience members last season, a further 6,722 children came to our Schools' Concerts and an additional 1,071 younger children attended our Key Stage 1 concerts at CBSO Centre. And that's not all: last season we introduced "Notelets" - a series of concerts specially aimed at the under-fives. The two "Notelets" concerts planned for next month have sold out already.

Concern about the age of the audiences for classical music is, in fact, a very real issue all over Europe and the USA - although Terry is quite right to note that the picture is potentially rather different in China, where western classical music is a radically new artform. But we do regularly address the issue through concerts aimed at younger age groups: in the last five weeks alone the CBSO has collaborated with Guillemots, played for an audience of over ten thousand in Birmingham Opera Company's La Traviata at the NIA, performed a sold-out Family Concert and an evening of James Bond themes at Symphony Hall, presented our 100-strong Youth Orchestra, and given the above-mentioned free concert to introduce Birmingham to our new Music Director-elect, Andris Nelsons.

All this is in addition to our usual programme of world-class performances of the classical symphonic repertoire.

The CBSO's marketing is also much more varied than Terry's short article can do justice to. In fact the CBSO is a world leader in targeting new audiences through new technology - we were the first major symphony orchestra to produce a regular podcast and to offer on-line sampling, and e-newsletters and other targeted campaigns sit alongside our more traditional marketing methods. The strategy is working. Last season we sold more tickets than ever before; this season's ticket sales are currently 2.6 per cent ahead of our sales at the same point last year.

And finally - what's wrong with older people anyway? We're happy to embrace audiences of any age who are up for sharing our passion for world-class music in a world-class hall. Even so, I hope it's clear from the above that we're anything but complacent on the issue - and Andris Nelsons' arrival should give our efforts an even stronger impetus.
 STEPHEN MADDOCK, Chief Executive,
 City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Problem is down to lazy programming
Dear Editor, Chris Upton is completely right when he talks about how interactivity is dumming down national TV and radio programming.

I listen to both in order to be entertained, broaden my horizons, increase my knowledge and learn about points of view which are different to my own. Just like Chris, the words "We want to hear from you" fill me with dread.

When it was only on local TV programmes, it could be avoided and I would often vote with my thumb - and switch off. Now it's everywhere: on the national TV news, national radio and anywhere else you care to look or listen.

I find it terribly patronising that programmers assume the way to get people watching is by including submitted items from listeners themselves. Either people are worth reporting on or they're not. Just because a member of the public thinks their pictures or film is fascinating, doesn't make it true; they're just like parents who think their children are the brightest, funniest and most beautiful of their generation.

And if it isn't submitted pictures, it's presenters reading tedious emails from "Mr A of Essex who thinks Gordon Brown is doing very well" or some other unenlightening message.

I accept that sometimes interactivity has its advantages - after all, we wouldn't have had footage from inside the 7/7 tube trains if travellers hadn't taken pictures on their mobile phones and sent them to news stations.

However, for the most part, I believe it's just lazy programming that leads our stations down the interactive line.

What do other readers think?
 SIDNEY VENT, Solihull

Unjustifiable pay cuts
Dear Editor, I am writing to you regarding the article from Councillor Rudge.

I am a Birmingham City Council employee and am affected by this rubbish called 'Single Status' (pay and grading review). Who the hell does Rudge think he is by saying council workers are overpaid for the work they do?

Maybe he could come and have a look at some of the council offices and have a go at some of the jobs we do to see the sort of rubbish we have to deal with, ie a new computer system that doesn't work.

I notice he didn't have the guts to show his face at the recent rally until nearly everyone had gone and then he had the nerve to come out with the rubbish in the interview he gave to your good selves.

I'd like to know how much the leader of the council is losing - oh, hang on - the council staff are losing money so he can have a pay rise - how stupid of me.

A disgruntled Birmingham council worker, I would also like to mention staff are losing up to £14K from their salaries - how can the council justify that?
 NAME AND ADDRESS SUPPLIED

Sending an unwelcome message
Dear Editor, While the Transport Secretary is promising to reduce the hassle factor at British Airports, Birmingham Airport appears to be working on an opposite agenda.

As I discovered last weekend, it is now no longer possible to drop off a passenger at the airport without incurring a £1 charge.  Since the lane to the terminals has been closed for security reasons, all traffic is diverted to a drop-off zone which turns out to be the airport's old short stay car park. As far as I know no other airport in the UK has taken the step of charging all passengers before they even step through the departure doors.

Up to now, the only people to have profited from the terror threat in Britain have been al Qaida.

Birmingham Airport's move seems to send out a very unwelcome message to travellers like me.
 JEREMY HAYES, By email

The facts about Boomerang
Dear Editor, I would just like to correct a factual error in your reporting of printing.com's six-month trading update.

Whilst correctly stating that printing.com has opened a new centre in Solihull, the article reported that the company had "acquired the former Boomerang agency".

I am pleased to report that Boomerang is neither former nor acquired by printing.com. Boomerang Print Design is, in fact, a wholly owned subsidiary of Solihull-based full service marketing agency Nyans Communications and continues to be the entity that manages the Solihull printing.com operation on a franchise basis.

I am also pleased to report that this "Bolt on" franchise continues to enjoy growth, following its relocation from Knowle to central Solihull in May this year.
 RICHARD SMITH, MD Nyans Communications