Friday, February 26, 2010

6Music back on death row

Just a few days after the BBC Trust said it thought 6Music was a good thing and should be preserved comes a nasty rumour that it's going to be axed anyway.

The Times is widely being credited with uncovering the story that 6Music, along with the Asian Network, Switch, Blast and half of future web activity is to be axed - although the death of 6 was first re-rumoured in last Friday's New Statesman radio column. The Staggers reported that:

. At a meeting in early February, the channel's controller, Bob Shennan, told the gathered staff that they had three weeks to wait before the wet towel was officially removed from its bucket to be wrung. (One imagines his gestures while speaking - fingers unusually honed from writing redundancy cheques.)

The idea is that the BBC will shrink to allow "commercial rivals" room to thrive, although it's not entirely clear which company is planning to create an advertising-supported programme along the lines of Marc Riley's, or the Freakzone. Or the music programmes on the Asian Network, come to that.

It's a bit like having Radio Five axed all over again, but this time with actual listeners to disappoint. (The loss of Five, taking with it virtually all BBC children's radio, proves the fallacy of believing if the BBC stops doing stuff, commercial radio will delight at having a space to work with - advertisers want markets, not gaps in them.)

Obviously, I love 6Music and don't want a station I enjoy to be switched off for no real reason, but there is a wider policy question here, too. There is an interest in shifting radio from analogue signals to digital, but most of the digital commercial stations have struggled precisely because it's very hard to fund interesting new services from the money you make selling commercials around it. If the BBC cuts back its digital-only radio offerings, and the commercial sector can't afford to offer much, why would anyone bother to buy a digital radio? Killing 6Music isn't just killing off a station enjoyed by half a million happy licence payers; it's effectively the end of the DAB dream.


Simon said...

So within the last few months Radio 1 has been told to reduce its average listener age and Radio 2 increase its, and so the Beeb is axeing its Radio 1 teenage strand and the station meant for the younger potential Radio 2 audience.

Francis said...

How can scrapping the minority services match its public service remit?

If 6Music was on FM it would have a LOT more listeners. I truly believe that.

A large percentage of radio listeners do so in the car whilst commuting. The lack of a decent DAB option in the vehicle sector has been the biggest problem for DAB and 6music.

I'd be surprised if 6music wasn't one of the most listened to digital-only stations

Olive said...

I agree entirely with Francic- the fault doesn't lie with Radio 6, but with the DAB project. It's hard to think of a more expensive, ill-conceived debacle that didn't involve invading anywhere.

Anonymous said...

There is a Save 6 Music page on Facebook.

Peter D said...

I am in total agreement with Olive and Francis, We listen to 6 music on a shitty dab service in the house as the nearest transmitter is so far away, in the car its CD's, if 6 music was on FM undoubtedly it would be a much listened to station.
It appears that George Lamb muttered under his breath "I will take all you fuckers with me...shabba" prior to calling Mark Thompson to discuss some photos of Mark he might not want to get out.

ian said...

Francis is right. If you look at the RAJAR figures, and DAB sales figures, and assuming that everyone has an FM radio, which I don't think too outlandish a suggestion...

6Music reachs 7% of the 10 Million DAB sets.

Radio 3 reaches just 3% of the available FM receivers - and it's market is largely covered by classic fm.

Anonymous said...

Steady on... Radio 3 is not the same as Classic FM. Their markets are very different. The people who enjoy CFM enjoy smooooth classics. Radio 3 has classical music, jazz, poetry, plays, all sorts of weirdness that you never get on CFM. Their presenters are intelligent and well-informed. CFM.s presenters? Not so much.

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