Friday, 26 February 2010

Save 6Music

There is a report on the front of the Times today that claims that they have seen a leaked report from the BBC about the future of the, ummm, BBC.
The report is going to say, when it is released properly, that the BBC has grown to big and must shrink back. Well maybe, it did buy the Lonely Planet guides for no good reason, but the rumoured cuts seemed aimed at some slightly strange targets.

It has been suggested that the excellent BBC website (the first website I look at everyday) will be cut back by half and that the BBC's Asian Network will take a hit. There is also some slightly odd thinking in the paper, suggesting that the BBC should close it's Switch and Blast! services (whatever they are) which are aimed at teenagers so not to compete with E4 and ITV but they will leave BBC3 alone. You know BBC3, the channel whose stated demographic is 16-35. Hmmmm.

Anyway the thing that has riled me (and Twitter) the most is the suggestion that BBC 6Music should be closed. Noooooooooooooo! It's my favourite radio station, well maybe joint favourite with Radio4, but anyway, Noooooooooooooo!

No reason seems to be given in the article as to why 6Music should go but the decision (if it has been made) seems to be based on making it easier for commercial rivals, after all the BBC isn't supposed to compete directly with them. Fair enough I suppose, the BBC does have a bit of an advantage, but I don't think that that is a relevant argument here.

Commercial radio, by it's very nature, has to appeal to either a quite limited demographic or the widest possible (My local commercial broadcaster has gone for people who neither like music or coherent and interesting talking), where as 6Music appeals to quite a wide range of music lovers. This morning they played The Pixies followed by Naughty by Nature. How many advert funded efforts can say that? And how many radio stations (and I'm including the rest of the world here) have ever used the phrase “And now something from SquarePusher” as Stuart Maconie did last Sunday? I would imagine that it is quite a small number.

I'm not doing special pleading here because I like the station but I am pointing out the the argument is floored. I am not aware of a single other radio station that would bring you such a wide range of interesting people presenting programmes as 6Music has. Look at Sundays for instance. Huey Morgan (Fun Lovin' Criminals), Jarvis Cocker (in his first showed he read out a short story and played a Sir John Betjeman poem, is that happening on XFM?), Stuart Maconie (player of Square Pusher) and Guy Garvey (Elbow).

There is clearly some other reason for picking on the Asian Network and 6Music. The fact that the leak was to the Times (owned by Rupert Murdoch, hater of the BBC) is also significant.

This is a tacit admission on behalf of Mark Thompson, the Director-General, that he thinks the Tories will win the General Election and he wants to get the first move in. The report was even written by the former head of the Conservative policy unit, John Tate, who co-wrote the party’s 2005 manifesto with David Cameron but is now director of policy and strategy at the BBC.

He is trying to save the BBC from too much Tory interference when they come to power. He is saying, yes I understand the things that you think are wrong with the BBC, see I'm changing them, please leave us alone. 6Music has become a sacrificial lamb on an alter to David Cameron, so that Mark Thompson may continue in his job. Hmmmmm.

I read one criticism of the Save 6 Music campaign (by the way, you can write to the BBC trust by clicking on here) is that we were all suggesting other things to be cut like sport, celebrity programs and BBC3. There is a reason for that, these things do compete with commercial broadcasters but 6Music doesn't.

Please don't let this happen, I like music and want to listen to it without having cheap double glazing advertised at me.

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