BBC 6music Under Threat of Closure

By on Monday, 15th March 2010 at 2:00 pm

Editor’s note: For the sake of disclosure, I want to state for the record that I have very strong feelings on this topic, and I will do my utmost to present the facts and keep my emotions to a minimum.

Every year the BBC Trust conducts an audit of all BBC Radio stations to analyse their listenership and whether they’re getting the best value for their money, as all BBC radio stations are funded by the state and paid for by UK residents. On 02 March the Trust confirmed a proposal to close of two of its digital stations: 6music, the Beeb’s alternative music station, and the Asian Network, broadcasting Asian music, news, entertainment, culture, debate and drama. According to an article published in the Guardian the same day, Director General Mark Thompson stated, “even to propose the closure of BBC services is a very big and in some ways painful step. There’s lots of great content on BBC 6 Music and some real talent …[but the station was] expensive … given its relatively small audience.”

BBC Radio 6 describes itself as a station that “brings together the cutting edge of today and the iconic and groundbreaking music of the past 40 years.” Indie music stalwart Steve Lamacq (pictured above), who currently hosts a 3-hour evening drivetime programme Monday through Friday on the station, posted a quite eloquent entry on his personal Web site’s blog with his thoughts on 6music’s closure, including these that I believe are two very important bits to contemplate:

On a personal level, I believe that shutting 6music would be disastrous for the British music scene – and alternative music from further a field too. There is so much music being played every week on Six that simply doesn’t get played anywhere else, that losing it would be unthinkable … The cultural hole it would leave if scrapped, would have terrible repercussions for everyone from small promoters to indie labels to bands and to music fans of all ages. We’d be denying people the chance to hear music which could – even in just a few cases – alter their life, as listening to John Peel changed mine.

Ex-Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker, who recently joined the 6music team as a Sunday afternoon presenter at the start of 2010, had this to say about the closure:

As far as I can see, a station like Radio 6 is perfectly in the spirit of what the BBC was supposedly set up to do – public service broadcasting. It’s airing music that wouldn’t get heard otherwise.

Many other artists, including Emmy the Great, David Bowie, Frankie and the Heartstrings, La Roux and Mark Ronson, just to name a few, have voiced their opposition to the closing of 6music, which just celebrated its 8th birthday on Thursday the 11th of March. Loyal listeners have also become involved in the fight to save the station, starting Facebook and Twibbon campaigns and organising petitions and demonstrations, all in an effort to make their voices heard.

No matter which side you’re on, you can see this is a very charged, passionate battle being fought. If you wish to weigh in on this issue, you have until 25 May to complete an online survey, part of the Strategy Review Consultation, here.

As you can imagine, there is much in the media on this proposal. And below are just some links that we think you may find interesting on this topic.

BBCIn Quotes: Reactions to BBC Cuts

The IndependentBBC radio stars hit out over 6 Music closure plans

Music Week Viewpoint: Beggars Group chairman Martin Mills

The Times OnlineBBC chairman Sir Michael Lyons admits licence fee cut possible

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2 Responses

5:00 pm
15th March 2010

You may also wish to point your readers to Tim Davie’s (Head of BBC Radio) Blog:

And then there’s the Director General’s Blog:

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