Writers from anywhere across the globe whose work has been published in the UK will be eligible to enter a story to win the £15,000 prize.
There will be a shortlist of 10, rather than the usual 5, and they will be broadcast across 2 weeks leading to the announcement of the winner.
More stories, great. More stories on radio, excellent.
Apart from the fact that it's more competition for UK short story writers, that's all rather positive, isn't it?
Well yes - and no.
It still seems to me a case of: LOOK HOW MUCH WE PRIZE THE SHORT STORY FORM, HOW MUCH WE SUPPORT SHORT STORY WRITERS, AREN'T WE WONDERFUL - contradicted by: HOWEVER, PLEASE DON'T PAY ATTENTION TO HOW FEW STORIES WE'LL ACTUALLY BE COMMISSIONING IN FUTURE.
This year's winner David Wilson is quoted as saying "winning... couldn't have come at a better time in my career - it was the push I needed to get my work noticed.”
YES. It takes winning an award for publishers to pay any attention to the excellence of a short story writer's work and consider taking a risk on publishing his or her collection.
And that is EXACTLY why BBC RADIO 4 should remain an encouraging place for story writers to find audiences and new readers.
HOW CAN IT DO THAT WHEN IT HAS CUT THE NUMBER OF STORY SLOTS AVAILABLE TO WRITERS SO THAT IF THEY DO GET THEIR FOOT IN THE DOOR, DO FIND A COMPATIBLE PRODUCER WHO LIKES THEIR WORK, ACTUALLY GET A COMMISSION TO WRITE ONE, THEIR STORY WILL BE A LONE WAIF IN THE LANDSCAPE OF RADIO 4 - ALL BUT INVISIBLE IN THE SCHEDULE???
[insert copious swearing here]