Media Top Stories

24 hours to save the BBC

By | Published on Monday 24 May 2010

So, the BBC Trust’s consultation on those proposals to shut BBC 6music, as well as a plethora of other services, ends tomorrow, making this your very very very last chance to protest.

As previously reported, former culture minister Ben Bradshaw said at a UK Music event earlier this year that he had been assured by the Trust’s top man Michael Lyons that this was a genuine consultation and nothing in the Strategy Review written by BBC twonks was untouchable if the Trust believed management had got it wrong.

Much has been written since plans to shut 6 emerged as to why the BBC’s only music-for-music’s-sake service should be saved. As the Consultation deadline approaches, we summarise the argument in six sentences:

1. The UK has one of the most exciting, innovative and prolific music communities in the UK, contributing to ever expanding catalogues of great music across a plethora of genres; this cultural brilliance should to be represented by a truly eclectic media platform.

2. The commercial TV and radio networks represent only a tiny portion of this community, and do little to champion musical innovation, because the commercial sector struggles to monetise niche audience services, even when the niches together constitute a substantial number of people.

3. The BBC therefore has a duty to provide this truly eclectic media platform – and it does so through 6music – no other part of the BBC TV or radio network performs this task, despite the Corporation having an entire division with ‘music’ in its name (a division currently run by a fizzy drinks marketer).

4. The BBC Strategy Review is in part designed to placate the new Conservative government who are concerned about the Beeb unfairly competing with commercial rivals – but 6music competes with no one, and senior Tories have said they recognise 6 as an example of a great BBC service.

5. The Review is also in part designed to placate the commercial media moguls who accuse the BBC of using licence-fee funds to unfairly compete – but 6music does not compete with any commercial media, and shutting it won’t placate any commercial player for even six seconds.

6. The BBC is committed to encouraging radio listeners to move to the DAB network; doing so requires providing compelling, innovative DAB-only programming – like 6music and The Asian Network – so the BBC’s strategy review not only doesn’t satisfy the aims of the Tories, or the commercial media barons, it doesn’t even satisfy the aims of the BBC.

As the consultation deadline approaches, the Facebook group leading the campaign to rescue 6music staged a second demonstration outside the BBC’s Broadcasting House on Saturday. Liz Kershaw, Cerys Matthews, Andrew Collins, Richard Herring, Shaun Keaveny, Matt Everitt, Lib Dem peer Tim Clement-Jones and comedian Ed Byrne were among those who spoke at the event, which – aided in part by the impromptu heatwave – saw an even bigger crowd of supporters gather than at the first rainy demo. After waving their fists in the general direction of BBC management, the always polite Save 6 protestors headed en masse to 229 for some quality music.

Speaking after the demo, one of its organisers, Georgina Rodgers, told CMU: “We believe that our responses to the BBC Trust consultation, our complaints to the BBC, and our public protests have put forward a compelling counter-argument to [that of] BBC management. We have provided hard evidence that, rather than being a station that can be sidelined, 6music is a shining example of the ‘quality and distinctiveness’ that the BBC is aspiring to with its Strategic Review. We are now hoping that the BBC Trust will make sure that the BBC listens to the voice of the public, which has spoken loudly and clearly”.

If you haven’t already, you can add your opinions to the debate at the BBC Trust website below. The Save 6 Facebook group also provides a bunch of email addresses we can all send our outrage to as the consultation deadline approaches, just so the Trust geezers’ inboxes scream out “Save 6” this week.

BBC Trust consultation form

Facebook Group