Tuesday, 2 March 2010


6 Music closure

I emailed the duty office when this was leaked last week and received information relating to the station's last review which was, of course, out of date, though the messages of praise for the station were pleasing, as, in the few years they've been on air, 6 Music and Radio 7 have joined Radio 4 as my stations of choice.

Now that the Director General has publicly stated his intentions can I ask that the Trust considers its role as representative of the BBC's audience and challenges his plans?

6 Music is the BBC's only music station to take the popular culture of the last 50 years seriously. Radio 2 and Radio 1 are dominated by personalities and cautious playlists in a way that closely replicates commercial stations. 6Music has no counterpart in the private sector because it is core public service broadcasting, it is, simply, as Radio 3 is to Classic FM.
The growth of the station is impressive given the take up and roll out of digital radio, its cost per listener is one of the smallest of the DAB stations.
The signal sent out by closing one of the BBC's unique assets and choosing to reduce the Corporation's presence in New Media, may please the opponents of the BBC as a public service provider of diverse output, but it would be a sad day for those of us who believe the survival of BBC and its high standards is vital if we are to maintain the health of our broadcasting sector.

Although I'm not a core user of the Asian Network, Blast or the BBC's websites I can see they too are about serving diverse audiences to a high standard, surely the BBC's number one objective in a fragmenting marketplace. I would argue daytime BBC One television actually serves the public far less effectively, and might be a more economic sacrifice if sacrifice must be seen to be made.

For over a decade I was a curator at what is now the National Media Museum and I've written extensively on the broadcasting of the last 60 years, and I worry about the political naivety displayed in the plans related today.
If the BBC is to continue to serve us then it has to prioritise the provision of output that is not replicated elsewhere. Please reject the short-termist thinking behind this decision that I honestly believe imperils the BBC's reputation and future.

Yours faithfully

Ian Potter

EDITED TO ADD- this was written before it became clear the preferred address for responses to the Digital Strategy was srconsultation@bbc.co.uk. I sent it there as well, just for safety.


Rob Stradling said...

Good Stuff.

I only just read this, which suggests that the entire budget for sports across the BBC, including rights and salaries, comes to one-fifteenth of the budget for BBC1 - a 95% redundant variety channel. Armed with this (until it is debunked at least!), I will be taking considerably less shit from soap-lovers about sports coverage.

Rob Stradling said...

Correction: The actual figure for the entire sports budget is £357m, or 1/4 of BBC1 (£91 is just radio).

Rather less spectacular, but still a striking comparison.

Matthew Kilburn said...

Well said, Mr Potter, well said.

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