Save 6Music

Posted on March 12, 2010. Filed under: BBC, media |

It seems the very reasons given for axing 6Music and the Asian Network could be more accurately described as reasons not to. The strategic review, which calls for the BBC to save money and focus on quality rather than quantity, seems to be doing just the opposite; keeping the popular and replicated formats, while forgoing genuine quality and originality. It makes little sense for the BBC to lose these stations in name of quality improvements and fair competition.There is no commercial competition for 6Music, which is what will make its proposed closure so devastating. Surely it would make more sense to cut a station like BBC1, which has little place in an overcrowded commercial network, and is not offering something people cannot get elsewhere.

6Music has a large and dedicated fan base, which includes many respected musicians, and people in the music industry. 6Music has such a following because it is the only widely accessible alternative music station in Britain. Cutting the only source of alternative and obscure music, and a place for emerging bands and for genuine music fans, will leave a gaping hole in radio, and in the music worlike ld. It will not lead to a more robust and competitive radio market.

A new suggestion that spin-off 6Music content could be added to other stations such as Radio2 using the money saved makes even less sense. I would suspect that Radio 2 and 6Music fans would have little in common and would resent being thrown together, at the expense of mutual satisfaction. BBC chief operating officer Caroline Thomson defended the decision by suggesting the average age of the 6Music fan is 37, the heartland age-group for commercial radio. Reducing radio devotees to commonalities such as age belittles both the station and music lovers – people do not listen to it because they are a certain age, but because they are interested in the music it plays.

The public broadcaster is under enormous pressure from all sides to justify its spending and meet its obligations. It seems these cuts are the quickest, and perhaps easiest way for it to demonstrate it is listening to this criticism and is prepared to do something about it.

The quality programming 6Music provides fits exactly with the content it is obligated to provide.

As Steve Lamacq has publically said, the arguments don’t all stack up. If we could really believe these changes would lead to greater quality and better services, that would be one thing, but as it stands it is hard to see the move as anything other than acquiescing to corporate and political pressure. The BBC must strive to represent all voices in society and cutting two of its most unique and specialised services flies in this face of this.

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