My response to the BBC for the proposed axing of the fastest-growing, digital-only radio station. See their own news article here and blog post here. Excerpts from their articles are in blue, my comments are in pink.

As a result of the changes Mr Thompson said he expected the plans would see an extra £600m ($893m) diverted into programme-making.

Can we expect more tripe like BBC3 seems to specialise in? Or more ‘reality TV shows’, because I’m not sure we’ve quite reached saturation point with that.

BBC broadcaster and journalist Charlie Brooker said: “I was going to buy a digital radio next week. If they get rid of BBC 6 Music I might as well not bother.”

6 Music is the only reason I bought a DAB radio. It is the only station I listen to on the DAB or online (except for Rhod Gilbert on Radio Wales).

Music producer and musician Mark Ronson told BBC Radio 5 live that he was “definitely joining the petition” to keep 6 Music on air. He added: “It would be a bad thing if it closed down. It’s great old music, its great new bands. People on that station love music.”

6 Music is the only station about the music. I’m always disappointed when the news has items about Cheryl Cole or Michael Jackson, because I wonder how many people who listen to the station would actually care.

Mr Thompson has denied that the proposals have anything to do with the forthcoming election. “The proposed changes we are announcing today are not a piece of politics. It is also not a blueprint of a small BBC or a BBC that is in retreat from digital,” he said.

He added: “It is exactly because the media is changing so fast that we must articulate our public service mission and our values more clearly and consistently than ever before. There can be no turning back on our digital journey.

The public service mission and values of the BBC appears to be “if you don’t want mainstream drivel, then we won’t cater for you anymore. Find somewhere else. But please still pay your licence fee so we can provide mind-numbing programmes for those people who well on their way to turning into zombies.”

As I understand it 6 Music fills a gap between Radio 1 and Radio 2, mixing old with new across a wide musical spectrum from indie to jazz and most stops in-between.

The only discernible gap between Radio 1 and 2 is the age of the presenters and audience. I have the bad luck of listening to Radio 2 in the office and often feel I’m listening to Radio 1: Lady Gaga? Beyonce? People I would expect to hear on Radio 1, not on a station aimed at a 50+ audience!

6 Music is in a league of its own, not just within the BBC, but in terms of all radio. They play old music not often heard, and have helped me build up a back catalogue. They play new music from bands that wouldn’t get a look in anywhere else. 6 Music is the radio station John Peel would’ve set up!

So why would they chop 6 Music now, when in the ears of many, it has just started to find its mojo? It might be because it serves an affluent audience profile which the corporation feels it already caters for, and by having 6 Music is not leaving room for the commercial sector to play a part.

The corporation does not already cater to 6 Music’s audience: clearly, otherwise why would we have shifted? The audience they should be concerned about is those who have stopped listening to radio altogether because no station catered to them. If anything it is the commercial sector which fills the gap between Radio 1 and 2: they have no interest in playing more alternative music.

I listen to 6 Music when I wake up, a CD in the car, Radio 2 all day in work, and 6 Music when I get home. In the hours in work, I probably hear the same songs 3-4 times each, peppered with a few ‘classics’. I probably hear about 3 songs I like. At home, I’ll hear the same songs maybe twice (because there is some playlist at 6 Music), and a vast amount of other music, some of which I know and some of which I don’t. The diversity of the music and the knowledge, personality and taste of the presenters (who are often musicians themselves) is what makes 6 Music special.

If the BBC has any desire to keep variety and culture on the menu of its strategy, it must keep and get behind 6 Music. I doubt that 6 Music listeners will go back to another station. I imagine they are more likely to do what I will: listen to CDs/MP3s, MySpace, LastFM, Spotify, and other outlets for new music. It won’t be as easy to find new music, and I’ll miss the banter, but at least I’ll have some chance of finding music I like.

Mediocrity is not the spice of life. Don’t sell out to the mass-produced music. Don’t turn us into zombies. Don’t kill culture and independence and creativity.

I will have no reason to listen to or watch the BBC if 6 Music goes. And as I barely watch any TV anyway, I could probably get rid of it and not pay a licence fee either.

1 Comment

  1. Well said Fran, I agree with every word 🙂 Please don’t make me listen to radio 1 all day I think it might just finish me off!!!!!!


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