This was really badly publicized. We listen to BBC Radio 3 over the internet in the mornings; our house is situated in a dead zone for over-the-air signals, so we're pretty much stuck with streaming. One morning last week, with no warning, came a repetitive announcement saying that the BBC had discontinued WMA and to "contact your device manufacturer". Our radio is manufactured by Pure, and we have been using Radio 3's direct streaming URL because Radio 3 repeatedly drops off Pure's database for days on end and consequently becomes unavailable. The direct URL, on the other hand, has been very reliable up to now.
The BBC say that they make MP3 streams available for all their channels. I couldn't find one anywhere on any of their websites, so I wrote to them and asked them what it was. Here's what they told me: "We are currently only sharing links to our new streams with aggregators and device manufacturers. We are not currently making the links for the new Shoutcast and HLS streams publicly available. Whilst it was previously our policy to share these we found that we could not assure quality this way.". So not only have they discontinued the old streams, they are deliberately hiding the new ones! This is nonsense. The BBC apparently doesn't want anyone to actually listen to their broadcasts! (I did eventually find a viable MP3 feed from radiofeeds.co.uk).
Now we get to bit rate... It was much ballyhooed a year or so ago that BBC Radio 3 was broadcasting the highest quality classical music available because they supplied a 256 kbps stream. It now seems that the maximum available is 128 kbps. Fine for portable radios, but I really don't think this is step in the right direction.