UK television audiences are not being exposed to new music due to poor scheduling, according to the culture secretary.

Andy Burnham has said broadcasters must "promote and champion new music in this country, rather than having just very safe options on prime-time TV", and called for the restoration of Top Of The Pops to BBC schedules.

Speaking at the In the City music conference in Manchester, Mr Burnham lamented changing television schedules which have pushed new music artists into late night programmes such as Transmission on Channel 4 and Later… with Jools Holland on BBC2.

"I just worry a little that the relationship between prime time TV and radio and the music industry has at times become a little cosy," he told BBC News.

"It's relying on safe formats and not sufficiently putting out those new names that can then all of a sudden go from the margins right into national prominence.

"That was what was great about the past - The Smiths did become a national name, even though I can remember my dad moaning about them on Top of the Pops."

In the City was established by the late Tony Wilson, who signed Joy Division to his fledgling Manchester label Factory Records and showcased the likes of the Sex Pistols and The Clash through his broadcasting.

"Today, people perhaps have more power over their own destiny, but getting heard over the bottom rung of noise is much harder than it was 15 or 20 years ago when people were being chucked onto Granada Reports at the end of the news," Mr Burnham continued.

"It seems to me to be a more difficult place to be.

"Perhaps what was always surprising about music, and some of the music that came out of this city, was that they could go national because of the way things were.

"Whereas I do worry very much that if we retreat into that comfort zone, that tried and tested model, they just won't break through in the same way."

06/10/2008 12:21:58