Dead air?


Is 6 Music really on death row? Nobody actually knows for sure, and speculation and paranoid rumour have been rife for some time. But it’s looking worse this morning than it did when I left the building at 10am on Wednesday. Well, the news broke last night, when the Times announced that 6 Music was to close and those that were still up went a bit nuts. The full story, by Patrick Foster, is here, but the thrust is this: the BBC will close two radio stations in an overhaul of services to be announced next month. The piece uses the word “will,” not “might” or “may” or even “is expected to”. Its unequivocal tone is what makes it so scary.

We all know that DG Mark Thompson is being forced to make cuts to appease readers of the Daily Mail and the Tory government-in-waiting, who think that the £3.6 billion annual licence fee is being wasted on some programmes and stations that they don’t watch or listen to. The bashing of the BBC has long been a national sport among the media conglomerates who control the Rest Of The Media, corporations with fingers in multiple pies that chuck money at redesigns and failed ventures every day but are only accountable to their shareholders. Because of what used to be called “the unique way in which the BBC is funded”, the private sector want the BBC to be cheaper and better and have the means to lobby for this outcome; the own all the newspapers. Any medium reliant on advertising income is suffering in the recession. They’re bound to be pissed off that one of their major competitors doesn’t have to rustle up ads. (Except the likes of Radio Times, for whom I also work, which is run out of the profit-making wing, BBC Worldwide, as a wholly commercial venture – more blurring of the public/private lines that started under the previous Tory government, who demanded the Corporation pay for itself. It’s since come under fire to making too much money. A lose-lose situation. Close some things down, quickly!)

The Times piece says, “In a wide-ranging strategic review, [Thompson] will announce the closure of the digital radio stations 6 Music and Asian Network and introduce a cap on spending on broadcast rights for sports events of 8.5 per cent of the licence fee, or about £300 million. He will also pledge to close BBC Switch and Blast!, leaving the lucrative teenage market to ITV and Channel 4. But BBC3, which is aimed at 16 to 35-year-olds will not be touched.”

The question is – and it really doesn’t matter in the broader scheme of things – how come Patrick Foster has read this report, which is due to be made public next month? There are jobs at stake here. This is not about me – I just freelance for 6 Music, and have been thoroughly enjoying doing so since just before Christmas – most of the people who work at the network, day in, day out, doing a death-defying job with less resources and less warm bodies than any other comparable 24-hour music network while attracting some of the biggest names in music and receiving full support of the record industry, are on staff, or contracts. I worry for these people first, and for the loyal listeners second, with my own interests a long way down the list. I am like one of those media conglomerates – I have fingers in many pies; that’s how the self-employed survive. To axe 6 Music and Asian Network – that’s two entire radio stations, think about that for a minute, it would literally strip away two options on your DAB – seems sensational to me. I understand that cuts must be made, and that you can make an argument for or against any of the digital services (“Why don’t they just shut BBC3?” say wags – but BBC3 is a fantastic training ground for new talent, whether you watch it or not – I don’t listen to Radio 3, but I want it to exist), but my guess is that it’s a lot less complicated to do the maths by chopping out entire organs than to put the body on a better diet.

The report has been drawn up by the BBC’s director of policy and strategy, John Tate, who apparently co-wrote the 2005 Conservative manifesto with David Cameron. I present that simply as a fact. It seems – if the Times has actually read the report – that BBC2 gets a budget hike as long as everybody stops spending money on posh imports, like Mad Men. Frankly, as long as somebody shows Mad Men, I can live with this. (Most of my US imports are watched on FiveUSA and Hallmark anyway.) I’d rather not watch it with adverts, but I can always wait for the box set, or speed through them – oops, look at me contributing to the commercial sector’s woes with the fast forward button Sky put on my remote control for me. It’s so confusing!

I thought 6 Music’s death had been greatly exaggerated, having emerged from the BBC Trust report with a clear brief: to ramp up the specialist music content. Brilliant. We can do that. (I speak as someone who co-hosts a Saturday morning show where the onus is very much on the other stuff.) It seems my optimism was misplaced.

Of course, we should all sit back and take a pinch of salt; the Times pieces is necessarily written and published from a stance of wishful thinking, and may not turn out to be gospel. Rupert Murdoch is easy to paint as the villain, as he’s foreign and he broke the unions and gave us Page 3, but he also gives me House and Caitlin Moran, and as a media ogre he’s no more against the BBC than whoever runs the Guardian Media Group, a media conglomerate to whom I happily give £1 every day, and more than that at weekends (I paid a pound!), and for whom, very occasionally, I work. I do the odd piece for the Times. I subscribe to Sky. It’s complicated. But I love the BBC to the very marrow of my bones and always have done. Anything that chips away at its authority, its creativity, its inclusivity, its ability to inspire, its mission to serve and its dominance in the specialist fields of excellence and stimulation is, to my mind, bad. If they’d announced that they were closing 1Xtra and CBeebies I’d be just as pissed off, and they literally do not cross my radar. It’s not just about my friends losing their jobs, it’s about a prevailing storm.

Batten down the hatches, lovers of diversity and cleverness. As I always say, those who seek to give the BBC a good thrashing for being a Communist and having some croissants at its meetings and paying really good presenters some money for doing their job will be the first to write to the letters pages of the Times and the Mail and the Telegraph when the Today programme is sponsored by Immodium Plus.


80 thoughts on “Dead air?

  1. Wonderfully put Andrew. If 6Music was to close and BBC3 survive the words 'utter disgrace' would not come close. Beautifully reasoned piece that I can only agree with 100%.

  2. Hear Hear!For me it simply spells disaster if the BBC retreats from its position of trying to appeal in a diverse way.I worry that "death by a thousand cuts" will lead to a paster Niemoller situation in which eventually the BBC dies….I so *hope* not.Ralph Ferrett

  3. well said mr collins, lets hope that it is just that "and published from a stance of wishful thinking" axeing 6music and asian network would be a travesty, what saddens me just as much is the quote that the BBC website will be shrunk by 50% and more links to other news agencys will be will be a shocking day for both music and radio if 6music is to close as nothing in the commercial sector comes even close to the output this wonderful gem of a station produces

  4. Closing Six Music would be an incredibly short sighted move. What commercial service is there that offers even a tiny fraction of the diversity that Six offers?

  5. Nice piece Andrew. Thank you. I was with you after the Trust report and thought all that talk of axing 6 was silly Facebook speculation. I don't understand how they can even contemplate such radical changes to the digital network when such a network is still essentially in its infancy. I know many people who are still only just now getting their first digital radios and discovering stations such as 6music.Talk about knee jerk reactions.. 😦

  6. I heard this announced among the news headlines on Radio 4 as I woke up this morning, and I assumed the Today Programme would follow up with a longer piece, but…nothing. It's terrible news on so many levels; as you say. 6 Music can boast a team of genuine and committed music enthusiasts of a quality and diversity not seen since the legendary early days of pirate radio. Now, presumably, they'll all be dispersed (if they're lucky) to some graveyard shift on the other BBC stations. On a personal level, I will mourn the loss of Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone for the rest of my life. And your shows weren't bad either.

  7. "my guess is that it's a lot less complicated to do the maths by chopping out entire organs than to put the body on a better diet"Love this bit. It's like a doctor suggesting an obese person simply have their legs amputated in order to lose weight quickly.

  8. Your blog post is the first I've heard of this.I'll be 100% gutted if 6music is axed. It is the soul reason I invested in several DAB radios and is the only station I can turn on any hour of any day and hear something that piques my interest (apart from when George Lamb's on, obviously).As you say the loss of that station isn't the big issue. The erosion of any aspect of the BBC isn't a good thing, but it's doubly annoying that this will remove the only national station with a vaguely alternative music theme to it and with a genuine passion for that music.

  9. Mortified!Like many others I don't understand how they could come to this decision (if indeed they do) because 6Music is serving the BBC's remit perfectly! There must be some way of getting PRS stats and showing that of the main radio stations the BBC provides, Radio1 and 2 have FAR more crossover with commercial stations. I hear stuff on 6Music that you'd simply never hear on a commercial station.

  10. Right on. This is a sad state of affairs.However, re-reading the article again, it seems that this could just be a 'proposal', and perhaps the BBC Trust will change/reject it (or other external forces may intervene). So there's still some hope left…

  11. Good to have your take on this Andrew. I'm really surprised at how upset I've been since I read the Times story – there really isn't any comparable service to 6music, and at the age of 41 the fact that I'm more excited about discovering new music than I have been since I was a teenager is almost wholly down to the good work of Marc, Gideon, Stuart and the rest of you. I know it's only a radio station, but if this is true it's going to severely impact on my life, and on the lives of many of my friends! Given how little it costs to run the station this is clearly a political decision – it's very worrying.

  12. Amazing read Andrew. I just find it harsh that this is all a possibility when BBC Three is still on the air. I mean who the hell watches 'Snog, Marry, Avoid' without mocking THE HELL out of it! If this happens, I'll stab Mark Thompson in the eye… basically!

  13. One of the things that bothers me is this…BBC3 and BBC2 are criticised for serving an audience that is just as well served by Ch4, Dave, Sky etc.Switch and Blast can go cos Ch4, E4 etc show teen shows already.But 6music and Asian Network can go because they are niche. Only 20% of people know that 6music exists so that can go… So what is the BBC's purpose? To serve the mainstream? No, ITV can do that. To serve the minority? No, that is a waste of licence fee.They aren't allowed to do anything without it being a waste or a threat or uneneccesary. And where's the logic in scrapping Mad Men so more money can be spent on quality drama? THAT MAKES NO SENSE!

  14. Well said, Andrew. It would be so sad to lose one of the only radio stations whose presenters (for the most part – I'm looking at you, George Lamb) are more interested in playing an eclectic, stimulating range of music than furthering their meeja careers. Well, I realise that's an idealised view, and no listener would begrudge the people that work at 6music an opportunity to get on the telly, or whatever. But it says something for the commitment of the presenters, and the general remit of the station, that the music seems to come first, not just padding between inane celebrity chitchat. I was listening to Gideon Coe last night – there is nowhere else, not even on the internet, that you will find such an eclectic but masterfully curated selection of music. And, while this is clearly a political decision brought about by grubby, capitalistic vested interests, it will have a knock-on effect to the music industry, especially at the independent fringes. But said interests aren't interested in that are they? They want to focus on pumping Michael Booblay [sic] into the consciousness of every mouthbreathing consumer drone on the planet. If this goes ahead, it will be the most bitterly disappointing BBC decision I can remember. It's meant to be our BBC isn't it? Speaking as someone who consumes more hours per day of 6music than any other BBC outlet, it'll be a lot less mine.

  15. These potential closures have the benefit of appeasing people by looking bold and grand yet to those who bitch about the BBC I would greatly expect that the closure of the stations would be the first they ever heard of them.Yet slash budget costs by reducing the number of Eastenders episodes by one a week and letting go of Match of the Day and all of a sudden the BBC would be "cutting out the heart of the organisation".Sickening.Dee

  16. A lovely piece Andrew. I've listened to 6music since nearly the start and like others have said, it introduces me and plays music that I'd be hard pressed to find anywhere else. Anything to keep the Daily Mail happy…

  17. Like many I grew up being a supporter of the BBC and I think I still am. But it seems that these days my main contact with Auntie is either listening to 6Music (especially Marc and Gideon on weekday evenings) and the website. I would watch more on BBC 4 but, despite the fact I live in a major British city, I can't get reception so just have to watch Brooker, Meades et al on the Iplayer. If these reports are true, it looks like I'm going to be a bit out in the cold in the future. I don't expect everything to be aimed at me, but as someone who pays a fair bit of money for the BBC every year, I'd like at least some of it to be.What worries me most is the increasing problem with loyalty. 6Music has a loyal following, but that almost seems to count against it. Loyal fans of 'Mad Men' won't mind if it switches channels or time slots so that's probably what will happen. Loyalty to banks, football temas or political parties doesn't count for much these days, it just enables a bit more exploitation. 6Music's loyal listenership are the latest to find out that loyalty is apparently a mistake.It seems that we live in the age when fickleness dominates. The BBC, like many others, seem to be (or are forced to be) chasing this drifting bunch of 'new customers' exercising their choice in a needlessly volatile marketplace. I've no idea who these people are or if they even exist. What I do know is that I don't appear to be one of them.

  18. I'm sick and tired of the lowest common demoninator (yes I'm looking at you ITV, Sky, Murdoch, BBC3) winning. I'm really sick and tired of it. I know this sounds pathetic but the lovely little station that could has been a part of my life since it launched. It helped me through a very tough time in my life (yes, I warned you it would sound pathetic). For a grown man to say that about a bloody radio station should speak volumes.But nobody is listening. The catchpa is 'pander'. How ironic.

  19. Some brief thoughts:- Andrew's blog post is wonderful. I wish I could write like him.- The one place of escape from all this over the past 12 hours has been 6Music itself, they've judged the tone just right, mentioning it whilst not actually mentioning it. Perhaps under duress, or perhaps simply not wishing to sound self-indulgent.- If the worst does happen, my hunch is the network will live on in name. BBC tradition is to fudge compromises and avoid closing something completely at all costs – it would simply be too embarrassing for them to have a large gap between 5 Live and BBC7 (which won't be renumbered) just at it would to have a BBC2, a BBC4 and no BBC3. I can envisage them cutting *all* live output and running an purely archive station along the lines of BBC7. Horrible but possible.- They'll be a BBC-staff sponsored full-page newspaper ad again. If there isn't, time for us all to rally round and 'pay a pound' ourselves.- How are you going to keep Richard under control tomorrow?

  20. there has been talk of ditching 6music for years and its never happened – why is this time any different? – the article (not that its anything to go by, but we are for some reason) states:The report is being considered by the corporation’s governing body, the BBC Trust, and is due to be made public next this yet more sensation!? i hope not – I'm not quite sure what to do without it!? it's on almost 24hrs a day in my house and has been instrumental in weaning me off TV…

  21. Great piece Andrew. Listening to the trail there on Lauren's show, I couldn't imagine any commercial network playing such an mix, let alone Radio 1 or 2. I won't pretend that 6 has been without any faults, losing the 2 Phil(l)s was a mistake, hiring your warm up man Lamb was another, but it has recently refocused, and it's still the best thing out there. First they killed GLR now it's 6Music. Buggery bollocks.

  22. An excellent and considered piece. 6 Music did lose its way for a time, but has recovered well over the past year and still provides a large area of output which is simply not found on commercial stations. Even supposed "alternative" and specialist stations play mostly recognisable and unchallenging music.On the other hand, this could be one of those BBC leaks where a worst-case scenario is presented and the overall outcome is 6 Music only operating between 7am and midnight instead.

  23. 6Music is the only radio station I listen to. 6Music is the only station which actually plays the music I like and also plays a lot of random stuff I have never heard of before but which then opens new corridors and allows me to go out and buy new music. That is BUY music.I accept that it is a minority station in regards to Radio 1 and other well known stations but why is that a bad thing? What I will say is that 6Music produces a good chunk of listeners that are quite likely to become Radio 2 or 4 listeners in the future as they grow older. They are suggesting that the eclecticism and remit of 6Music could quite happily be filleted down and filtered into the Radio 2 scheduling. Really? Maybe with one or two of the bigger shows but would Radio 2 listeners really accept shows like Adam & Joe/Laverne/Keavney/Coe/Robinson? Of course not, there would be a whole loads of complaints from their traditional listeners that it was ruining 'their' station (and rightly so)!Both Radio 2 and 4 are for now 'too old' for my tastes right now but I know I will gravitate towards them in far future. Therefore I feel 6Music provides people like me with a platform to promote the enjoyment and activity of sitting and listening to the radio as a past time. Something I did not do before 6Music came along. Like many others I only have a DAB radio for 6Music.Removing 6Music will, in my opinion, create a hole in the potential audience of BBC Radio. I stopped listening to Radio 1 before my 20's, and I predict I will not really be a target for Radio 2&4 until my 40/50's. So where do I go in between? Commercial stations? Not in a life time.All the editorial I have seen about the possible closer has mentioned that 6Music has a small but feverish listenership. Why does this matter and mean less then having a large but ultimately uncaring listenership? Surely a loyal fan base that supports and promotes everything about its love (aside I am afraid from Mr. Lamb) is exactly what many other media outlets are trying desperately to build up in these times of media fractioning?!The whole point of DAB in both radio and TV terms was to allow all media groups to diversify and serve the minority and majority. Now turning around and justifying turning several of these taps off because they are hold minority audiences is nonsense and contradictory.The final point – I used to be quite against the paying of my license fee as I do not really enjoy that much on TV. However since the creation of 6Music and BBC Four in particular, I have appreciated why the license fee and the BBC is actually very important to this country. 6Music is the very centre of reasoning for now loving the BBC for existing and removing that will be a painful blow to my support. Without it I will still appreciate the few things that they produce that I really love (occasionally) but the vast majority of everything else they do will go unnoticed and unloved and I might once again start wincing when that license fee reminder drops through my door.

  24. I haven't listened to 6 Music before, no reason beyond I'm not a big listener to radio generally. This huge response makes me realise what I must have been missing. Hopefully the support (and encouragement of non-listeners to try it) will be enough to reverse the decision. (If such a decision exists of course) If not, where does it end? How much tabloid pressure before the next re-working of the Beeb? How much of the BBC is left a decade from now? Maybe just a single tv channel showing Rupert Murdoch dancing in piles of money on a 24hr loop.

  25. AndrewWell said. A reasoned, attached, detached, and passionate response to today’s shocking report in The Times.6 Music is the reason that I pay my licence fee. For years before the station was launched people of around my age (41) and on my wavelength (former NME readers, current readers of The Word, followers of the Peel/Kershaw music policy – that there is no music policy – if it good its worth hearing be it indiepop/reggae/blues/jazz/hip-hop/soca/death metal/ or whatever ), i.e. fans of BROADcasting were saying what we need is “Radio 1 and a half”. 6 Music has filled a void for hundreds of thousands of music fans who are too old for Radio 1 and who are not ready to embrace the cosy confines of Radio 2 – the latter has some great shows mostly on in the middle of the night e.g. Mark Lamarr’s God’s Jukebox and Richard Hawley’s recent series on The Ocean. The work of the presenters, producers and staff of 6Music deserves recognition and they should be allowed to carry on providing an excellent and unique service to 600,000 appreciative listeners. If 6 Music was available on FM or if it was a standard in-car feature, that number would easily multiply. Petitions, blogs and rants are all welcome but are we in danger of 600,000 dedicated followers of a truly great radio station doing a Billy Bragg?

  26. Great blog post, Andrew. You should look into getting paid for writing in some way.iMADEtheBBC – 6Music has been the soundtrack to some important moments in my life too, not least listening to Andrew's fill-in show when in labour late last year, dancing through the contractions to Mariachi El Bronx… don't think I would get that from Absolute Radio or even Radio 4. I think because 6Music is a station that attracts people who want foreground music, not background music, this level of love and involvement will be high amongst its listeners – who are licence-fee-payers – and I can only hope that this will count for something somewhere along the line.

  27. We live in a surreal world where, though the BBC is owned by all British TV and radio owners, it seems to pander only to Daily Mail readers and the Australian billionaire's American corporation that owns Sky TV. Radio 1's playlist reads like an advertisement for X Factor on ITV and there seems less and less on the BBC which doesn't seem driven by commercial marketing methods and the fear of occasional failure from which the corporation is supposed to be immune. If the rumours are true then it's a miserable day for the BBC, for licence-payers and British music fans.

  28. Andrew,A superbly written piece. These are gloomy times. 6Music has been a constant companion from the first day it was broadcast and, yes, it has occasionally infuriated, but there is nothing like it anywhere else.I heard last week that Tim Westwood was bemoaning the fact that it felt like nobody was listening to his afternoon 1Xtra show, yet I assume there's been no indication that the station's future is in doubt there. Too cool or 'yoof' perhaps?If it comes, it will be a sad, sad day, with little or no alternative to what we have been used to.My thoughts are with all the 6Music staffers.Richard Weir

  29. The Times leader comment is really offensive. They insult the intelligence of everyone reading to imagine that they can blurt out continuous anti-BBC negativity whilst not saying anything about Rupert Murdoch's own agenda.6 Music seems to me to typify the Reitheian message – bringing interesting new stuff to listeners. Quite how they're going to shoehorn in that kind of content in to Radio 2 (and what, Radio 3? Uh?) God only knows. It absolutely isn't Radio 2. I don't listen to Radio 2. I don't want to listen to pop music or the equivalent of Magic FM.Andrew, I'm sorry for you losing your recently renewed exposure (and salary) but more to the point, I'm sorry for British music , musicians and the interested audience (who are probably much more part of of the music listening fraternity who actually pay for music they hear).The problem is not the station (in terms of the apparent lack of numbers listening) – the problem is digital Radio and its lack of universal distribution.Also worthwhile remembering that the number of people who listen to 6 Music is greater than that of people who buy The Times.

  30. Fantastic article. Heard the news this morning, where did I hear it, 6 Music of course! Over the last few years 6 Music has been the background to my life, it's on all the time, no matter what I'm doing. It's the only reason I have DAB radios, and is a true oasis in the blandness of modern broadcasting. It has intelligent presenters, REAL music, and has totally broadened my musical horizons. If it goes, I haven't a clue what I'll tune in to! The BBC have really lost the plot!Let's turn such a negative into a positive and make sure this doesn't happen. If we all kick up enough stink, this could actually create great publicity for 6 Music. Right I'm off to lodge my official complaint to the BBC.TimmyTantrum

  31. No Adam & Joe, no Jon Richardson, no Collins & Herring, Laverne, Keavney, Lamacq, or any cool randoms like Jarvis C., Cerys or S. Merchant. For GOD'S SAKE! Sad face…

  32. Pardon my French, but what the FUCK is going on when a Murdoch-owned enterprise is the first to leak this 'news'? Has the BBC deliberately leaked it to the very people who want to see quality services shut down so their paid-for enterprises get an even bigger share of the market? Some days, just don't understand the media.Anna

  33. It's sickening to see the BBC carrying out the wishes of Rupert Murdoch in advance of his Tory helpers gaining power. This from the man, remember, who uses illegal phone tapping to fill out his grubby rags.

  34. It's a curious thing that, if you were to try and devise a strategy for preventing the BBC top brass from axing the station, you could do worse than publish a high-profile and shocking article that confidently announces the death of the station, but with enough advance warning to allow the righteous shitstorm to develop before the decision is written in stone. I hope.Neverthess the potential future expounded in the article is just the sort of thing to provoke in me the following extreme reaction. To the moaning minnies in commercial enterprises that drool and drivel that they can't compete: diddums, sod off and do better, or sod off. (That's right, I said "sod", I feel strongly about this.) The BBC has many faults but overall it is still better than any other network or channel*, let alone an alternative world in which it didn't exist.Murdoch's doing fine anyway with Sky and the Times, Sun etc. He's a greedy man.I wish the BBC would just put its lips together and blow a big raspberry when conservative vested interests start picking at it. They're carrion crows and the vast majority of the British public would side with the BBC if it came down to it. They lost the fight over Gilligan because of a perverse judgement, but I don't think the Sun could believe its luck when it saw that, and I don't think anyone, at least not anyone who wasn't sitting on Blair's sofa at the time, believed the BBC weren't more right than wrong. But Greg Dyke resigned and the corporation has been behaving like a kicked puppy ever since. Come on BBC!*I prefer Channel 4 News to BBC News, but that's it.

  35. Is someone playing a clever political game here?Surely they know that both 6Music and the Asian Network have rabidly dedicated listeners who will not shy away from vocally protesting any decision to shut them down. 6Music has the music industry, several high-profile musicians and an army of geeky musos in its corner, while the Asian Network has an even more well-defined community of dedicated backers. How long before "community leaders" start appearing on the news to protest at the decision to target Asian listeners.Radio 1, on the other hand, may have many times more listeners – but they are (arguably) more casual listeners. If it closed, would anyone really care enough to protest?Jon

  36. It's probably worth mentioning that a few petitions have been set up. There's one at and of course there's always a facebook group (well it worked for RATM ;)) Go and enlist! If 6Music needs some funds to fight the closure (adverts and whatnot) then might I suggest that Andrew & Richard sue Gorillaz? New single Stylo is a clear ripoff of the original Diary Wars tune. Yet another bad habit Damon picked up from that naughty Justine (allegedly). Funnily enough I heard the single on 6Music, oh the irony! Or is it mercurial, I can never remember which is which.I think some of you are a bit harsh on BBC3. Yes there's a lot of tat on it but really is it any more than you find on the other channels? I think the problem is that all BBC3 shows are ones aimed at our demographic (presumptuous of me I know) so we have higher hopes for them, whereas honestly who gives a shit if today's One show or 5live with Ian Wright is full of tedious uninformed inanities? I don't expect those shows to entertain me anyway. Besides BBC3 has given us Being Human which is one of the best dramas on tv. And if you disagree I hope you lose your favourite radio station…

  37. I genuinely watch only a few hours of British TV per week. Virtually all of that is BBC local news, though I confess I really like Little Princess on Five at 7:05am. (I should probably keep quiet about that but what a charming way to start the working day.) Already I'm drifting…Before Freeview and DAB, I listened almost exclusively to Radio 4, switching to Radio 1 only for the charts (remember them?), and Peel as often as I could. Now I listen generally only to 6 Music during the week and only to BBC7 at weekends (sorry, but that "other stuff" increasingly drives me nuts). If 6 Music goes, the only places in broadcast TV and radio I can go to are Radio 4 and BBC7. That should speak volumes to BBC management about the niche 6 Music fills. And that's a niche it's apparently filling for 1% of the population, despite the current lack of availability in cars. It's probably wrong to generalise but perhaps it also says something about the sort of people this would piss off: friends of the BBC; advocates of the licence fee. That can't be the intention. Can it?And 6 Music costs how much? The figure being kicked about is £6m* a year. That's peanuts, surely. OK, it's more than 40,000 licence fees. But how many of 6 Music's more than 600,000 listeners are like me – licence fee payers who listen to (and watch) virtually nothing else? It would be a senseless killing. And if the BBC wants me to start resenting having to pay a licence fee, simply to own something on which to watch German free-to-air satellite TV, this would be a good way to go about it.* It must cost more than this. This is an impossibly small amount.

  38. Fair play to Jeanette, you're far quicker on the various petitions than I was. I particularly like the idea of using the BBC's complaints process – hit them in the statistics, right where it hurts 😉

  39. Could this be a clever way to get publicity for 6music so that more that 1% of the population know about it? No, I don't think so, but it did cross my mind.I like this line from the Guardian article by Phill Jupitus, as it sums up 6music to me: "If they don't like what's on now, there's something good on in a minute"I have to add that I dislike George Lamb tooThanks for your post Andrew

  40. What a waste! I'm talking about a lot of the BBC except 6 Music. 100's of millions lost in building projects that should never have been started. Don't take it out on the parts of the BBC that are doing a good job. Get rid of the bits that aren't such as 2 presenters on News 24 when one does a better job! There are many more examples. Don't bow to pressure and take the easy way out. The BBC should fight for what's right and not the easy get out.

  41. Before I comment, I should note that I have been enjoying the C&H 6Music shows a lot (though I prefer the podcasted version without the music) am a staunch supporter of BBC Radio (I don't own a TV) and hate to see any radio stations shut down because of funding cuts when television remains such a bloated, expensive heap of utter crap…However, having listened to 6Music on a few occasions I am at a lost to understand why anyone is describing its musical programming as "alternative" in any way. To my ears 99% of the music there is on a major label (or affiliate) and fits neatly into one of a handful of popular genres. It certainly fills a hole in the BBC's coverage of different target audiences, but there is really nothing dangerous or (in my opinion) particularly interesting about the music played on the station. It may not be Susan Boyle but it is certainly thoroughly commercial. Radio 3 is the only BBC station to occasionally dip their toes into alternative waters, but certainly not enough. ResonanceFM is the only musically vital radio station broadcasting today.I will still go and sign the petition, as removing 6Music will clearly be a step backwards, but in my opinion the BBC has a long way to go when it comes to supporting truly alternative music on the radio whether 6Music survives or not.

  42. Hear hear: of that that everyone said. I wonder if 6music and the Asian Network are put together as bargaining chips. A threat to cut both then a consession to save one: the more worthy Asian network wins the Sophie's Choice.Deeply saddening. Next thing you know the new govt will be closing sure start centres, cancelling EMA, removing family tax credits and selling off shares in lloydstsb for threepence h'penny. On the plus side they'll be bringing back fox hunting

  43. A well pitched piece Andrew. To echo the comments of others, I'm thoroughly sick of the BBC's apparently supine submission to the anti-lobby. I say apparently, because I think the Times (prop R Murdoch) is up to some mischief making.Clearly, you're right to say its complicated but I find the hypocrisy of the Murdoch empire more "chilling" than anything the BBC has done. It bleats about the BBC's licence fee income while avoiding paying a huge amount in corporation tax by being based off-shore (see Private Eyes passim). Likewise, ITV's constant bleating about advertising revenues just leaves me thinking "boo fecking hoo – make some better programmes or shut down the Agatha Christie reruns channel (itv4)". The proposed BBC changes will make more, rather than less, like ITV which surely will just increase the pressure on it to make further changes.Closing 6Music and the Asian network reduces the BBC's remit to reflect diversity and I find it baffling that this is being touted as an option. As others have said, it may be that this is one of several options under consideration which has been cherry picked by The Times to make the biggest splash.With rumours that a Conservative government will relax laws requiring balance in news coverage (with the exception of the BBC) it augers badly for the quality of the media in general. I fear that within the next 5 years R Murdoch will have bought a stake in a terrestrial channel (Channel 4?) and we'll have the likes of Melanie Phillips and Kelvin McKenzie presenting op-ed shows in the style of Glenn Beck and co on Fox News (prop R Murdoch).I could weep.

  44. I personally can't stand the music played on 6 music but do occasisonally listen if certain hosts are on but I think it will be criminal shame if 6 music and the asian network are to close. First they came for 6 music and I did not speak up, then they came for the asian network and I did not speak up…how long until the BBC reverts back to being only minimal 'safe' broadcasting throwing thousands of pounds at easy content like Strictly Come Dancing and The One Show and awfully dull presenters like Fearne Cotton? The expansion of the BBC website, digital channels and radio stations have been amazing and something for which the coporation should be proud not apologising for.

  45. They can't get rid of 6Music! It got me through 3 and a half years working on my PhD. I had the station on all day long in the office, and I can't think of any other station I could listen to for that long without getting sick of the playlist. It's introduced me to so many fantastic bands I'd never have heard of otherwise, and thanks to Craig Charles I'm now a huge fan of funk music.My days are going to be so much quieter if it goes.

  46. I don't want to wee on anyone's tuck but I'd say petitions, Facebook campaigns, etc. are a total waste of time. The BBC knows how many people listen to 6 Music.I suspect flooding BBC complaints would make more impact even if it wouldn't be any more effective. At least it's a potential news story. Or perhaps if a few thousand smashed DAB radios turned up in their letter box…Alternatively write to a newspaper and outline, say, how this decision will/would almost certainly be the first suicidal step on the road to the end of the licence fee. Anything that indicates the goodwill and support the BBC will/would be pissing away, basically.Word verification: hydabClose.

  47. Interesting that Tory shitehawk Ed Vaisey is demanding 'value for money' for the Licence fee paying public?….pity he didn't apply the same ethics when he was using the same taxpaying public to furnish for his West London flat (from a high end furniture shop owned by David Cameron's mother in law) – and using 10k worth of the taxpayers dough to pay the legal fees and stamp duty when he moved house…….sickening to think the arts and culture policy of a future government may be in the philistine hands of this hypocritcal tory goon

  48. I've already said my piece about this at length elsewhere, but one item needs repeating.Much as I love Radio 3 and classical music in general (very general) and listen to it more than 6Music I wonder how it would fare if it and its listeners had to justify its existence in the same way as 6Music is in the position of having to do now.Both are entertaining minority audiences of different sizes. But it seems because Radio 3 is bedded in, considered to be part of the BBC's legacy and the educational perhaps, and to an extent listened to by the generation of people who make these kinds of decisions its being given a free ride. Oh and it reaches a much wider audience because it's on FM.6Music on the other hand is catering for a predominantly slightly younger audience, isn't historic in the same way, less educational, and has a smaller audience because its on digital services.In other words, as ever, it's the establishment vs. the rebels, old media versus new media yet again, with old media itself having the deciding vote.

  49. A very telling use of the word 'but' in the Times article…There will be complaints about the decision to cull 6 Music, which has a small but fervent fan base. Music industry tastemakers revere it as a credible outlet for “real music” but a review last month showed that only 20 per cent of adults knew that the station existed.Isn't that the whole point of public service, minority broadcasting?

  50. Ditto what many previous people have said about this if the BBC bow to pressure and get rid of 6 Music they'd have shot themselves in the foot. I mean what commercial radio station would play a 1975 Kraftwerk B-side followed by a debut session in the hub from a new unsigned band? It seems to me that the Murdoch press have been waiting for this news for quite some time. In Defence of Fearne Cotton Tibs in southsea I respect your view that you don't like her but I think she's very enthusiastic about music and to quote Andrew in a blog about the Brit Awards in 2008:"She is, if nothing else, an enthusiast. Enthusiastic for, like, absolutely everything in the world (except, like, war and disease and stuff), but it's better than being a miserable, ungrateful sod like the Arctic Monkeys." Also read what Outgoing Doctor Who Writer/Producer Russell T. Davies had to say about his fears for the BBC's future in an article in the Daily Mirror in december '09

  51. The BBC definitely should have a 6 Music. Apparently some think its listeners would be served elsewhere because the age group is attractive to advertisers but I just see the advertisers eventually realising they're barking up the wrong, non-advertiser-suggestible tree. Besides which, it would take something pretty special to even get me to listen to radio with *brrrrr* radio adverts (hasn't happened yet). If cuts had to be made I think I'd be tempted to make Radio 1 simply a younger, mainstream version of 6, exclusively digital (if that would save money – no idea if it would) and produced similarly cheaply. No one seriously denied anything. More realistically I might look BBC 3's way but only because I think BBC 2 should be doing the important bit of that job. All this is off the top of my head but at least I've not written an effing report.

  52. This is mental if you need to close a radio station close 1extra it adds nothing to the network really if BBC 3 goes untouched thats wrong because of the amount of shit programming they put out don't get me wrong i watch some BBC 3 programmes and i'm in the target age range for the channel but some of the stuff is rubbish. The BBC wants to save money stop making programmes like : "snog, marry, avoid" and "hotter than my daughter" because in all honesty that is a disgraceful waste of the license fee. The BBC should not have to cut spending because the daily mail keeps having a go at them. The Daily Mail is … words can't actually describe what i think of the Daily Mail

  53. Such a stunning response to this issue. Well done us.I'm sure I am preaching to the converted when I ask can we now direct this energy and frustration towards those people that will make or influence the final decision: The BBC. The BBC Trust. Our MPs. And even that 17th Century Media (Newspapers) that have a disproportionate amount of influence in spite of their ever shrinking readership.

  54. Nice to see Andrew's comments being quoted in various places on the 6Music support petition, Facebook etc.A good suggestion I noticed on one Facebook group ( is for people to swamp Radio 4's Feedback with messages, so here are the details:Feedback comments' views on BBC radio programmes and policy. Feedback's content is entirely directed by the feedback it receives from listeners.Contact us by post at Feedback, PO Box 2100, London W1A 1QT, by phone on 03 333 444 544, or by email using the form below. If your message contains more than 1000 characters the programme can be emailed directly using the address Fri 13:30 BBC Radio 4 & repeated Sun 28 Feb 2010 20:00 BBC Radio 4.

  55. Andrew, thanks for a great article (and when you were on 6music on saturday afternoon with Richard Herring, a great and sorely missed radio show)Like a lot of previous commentors, 6music is the only radio station I listen to and the only reason I now see fit to pay my licence fee having junked my tv years ago. Like many other 6music listeners I am now going out seeing bands and buying new music again (I'm 53 and 6music has rekindled my interest in music) If it hadnt been for 6music I would never have heard of bands like These New Puritans or Fiery Furnaces, let alone have gone to see them play or started going to festivals again(contributing financially by the way to the wider economy)In signing the petition ( if you haven't already) I note that the signatories range from 14 year olds right up to people in their 60's. What other radio station can claim to have such a fanatical and wide ranging audience. Not only that, as evidenced by the petition, the audience is worldwide. The BBC should be justifiably proud of 6 music and if anything should expand its audience by finding it an fm slot. If 6music can get the audience it has on DAB then it would be bound to find an even wider audience on fm. I doubt very much that any bbc local radio station or even regional tv gets the size of audience 6music gets and yet that is allowed to remain in existance even though it is duplicated in every case by commercial concerns so must be commercially viable and could be hived off. I would also add my voice to those that have commented on the celebrity salaries the likes of Chris Moyles get. Good luck to him but are telephone number salaries really justified out of licence payers fees? As for BBC3, what is worth keeping from that could easily be transferred back to BBC2, the original home of new and experimental programming.Dave Cresswell (Brighton)

  56. The BBC should start broadcasting 6Music on FM and then see if there is a significant jump in listenership.Technically there is plenty of 'room' for this to happen and I for one know that not being able to listen to 6Music in my car really hampers my love for it.I know this is completely against the reason the BBC started all these digital stations but the technology, particularly in car technology, had not moved on since DAB was introduced which not only stops the growth of 6Music but all the other DAB stations.I say to the BBC Trust, put 6Music on FM for a year and then see how niche it really is.

  57. 6 music is the only thing I watch/listen to regularly on the BBC and it's going to be terrible if it closes. I'm definately in the camp that thinks the BBC has grown too big though, news wise and sports they have tried to tie everything up and, especially in news, crowd others out; they need to reduce the amount of money they are taking but I don't agree closing 6 Music is the way forward.

  58. Couldn't agree more about trying these stations on FM. When I was at school there were certain privileges only sixth formers had. We waited patiently to become sixth formers and then all privileges were revoked. Now I am an adult, and we were waiting patiently for DAB to arrive in Derbyshire so that we could listen to these new stations. I think we are supposed to get it next year…Given that almost no cars have DAB radios and about 20% of the population lives in places where DAB doesn't reach, it is hardly surprising if listenership isn't very high. I love the podcast but (obviously) don't listen to any other bits of 6Music.

  59. Lauren Laverne was a fantastic ambassador for the station this morning.Two especially good links from her: – The 6Music flag – the creators have said people are welcome to download & use the image, so feel free to use Vistaprint or whoever & design your own T-shirts, car stickers etc (higher resolution version available if you scroll down the page).- A nice YouTube from Dan Bull

  60. I truly am disappointed and upset at the proposed closure of 6music.I have been listening to 6music from the very first show in 2002 and haven't stopped since. Listening all day every week day and using the iplayer for weekend shows I miss.I hardly ever listened to the radio before 6music, other than while I was driving or making my breakfast or dinner. And if it closes, I can't think of another station I would go to.I've had a thought! If 6music costs £9m to run each year and there are almost 700,000 listeners, then that is just under £13 per listener per year to keep it running. I understand that not everyone would be willing or able to pay that, but I would be more than willing to pay £40 a year if it meant 6music continued!I don't want 6music to close and I don't think it should close, but if it ever did, the figures are not too bad.That's my own point of view, I'm sure there are others out there with the same view, judging by the amount of passion I've witnessed in the above comments.ClareH

  61. for the benefit of anyone who wants to do it…listening to 6music in your car or while on the move is possible.I have an iphone (other mobile phones and portable media devices are available) and use an application 'Wunderradio' (others are available).I can listen in my car or if I'm on public transport. I'll be all the more gutted (eh? can I say that?) if the Trust go along with this recommendation from the DG. the catchpa is SWINEhow appropriate….

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