Wednesday, March 10, 2010

6Music: Thompson suggests 6Music audience great for commercial audiences

We're living in strange times, with senior BBC staff mobilising to try and get one of their services killed in the face of public opposition.

The latest senior exec begging us to let them kill it, already, is Caroline Thomson:

Thomson told an audience of media executives in London that the digital radio station, which is now the subject of a high-profile public campaign to save it, competed directly with commercial radio.

"The average age of its listeners – 37 – is at the heart of the demographic targeted by commercial radio", she told delegates at a Westminster Media Forum event.

Proving what, exactly, Caroline? That commercial radio is going to launch a station that plays The Pipettes and Field Music? That 6Music listeners will be quite happy to turn off Lauren Laverne and tune into Heart instead? What do you actually mean?
Thomson described the recommendation to axe 6 Music, which will now be considered by the BBC Trust following public consultation, as "tough". But she added: "There just isn't the luxury of closing something that no one cares about ... all the BBC services are loved by some."

To be honest, although I loved the proper old Radio 5, nobody really seemed that bothered about it closing in the way this has upset people. And - even allowing for the lack of Facebook and Twitter - when BBC Knowledge was canned, there was no sense of people getting upset. It's bad enough losing 6Music, without executives patting people protesting on the head.
She added that the money saved by the closure would be reinvested in radio, with a particular focus on digital services. Digital station BBC Radio 7 will "move towards [becoming] Radio 4 extra... with all the extra investment that implies."

Didn't Tim Davie suggest that the money being saved would be spent on 6Musicy type programming? What's it to be? Spending the money on music programming, or on an expensive rebranding exercise for BBC7?


Anonymous said...

I'm actually quite a fan of Radio 7 as well as 6. At least, conceivably there is a chance that a commercial alternative to 6 could come along (and I use the term "conceivably" very very loosely as I don't ever expect to see it) but there really isn't any way there could be a station that plays the sort of archive stuff 7 does. That being said, since this whole thing started, I've been expecting the suggestion. Still, turning it into Radio 4 doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. At the moment, much as I assume that it doesn't have a lot of listeners (me and my headphones), it surely doesn't cost very much to run given the largely archival nature of the channel. Why would they want to spend more money with, presumably, the goal of getting more listeners most of whom would have to leave Radio 4 to get there? I mean, they'd be in direct competition with themselves!?! I'm probably over simplifying the situation (and, as you can see, not entirely sure of all the facts) but I'd love to know what others think.

I guess the main problem is that the people dealing with it genuinely don't appear to have any idea about their audience. Thompson's declaration about average ages says it all. She has no idea about who the listeners are and what alternatives are available. Quite frankly, I'm more likely to tune into various internet (quite fond of Dandelion myself) or international stations (ad-free freeform stations like WFMU) than the usual rubbish that commercial radio in this country puts out. 6 & 7 have been a great addition to the BBC and I feel very frustrated and let down by the people who just don't seem to see what they've got.

steve thack said...

any fool who thinks average age of listeners is the improtant thing clearly doesn't understand listeners.

6 music like 7 relies heavily on bbc archives so would be unreproducable. but even apart from that no one is trying to appeal to the same market.they might appeal to audiences with a similar average age but i dont listen to radio based on what i should like given my age. 6music is completely unique and special and really must be saved

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