Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Tom Watson pushes for 6 on FM

It's great that Tom Watson is such a strong supporter of 6Music, but his calls for the BBC to move the network to FM, booting Radio 3 to digital only, are flawed:

Watson said: “It does strike me if the Radio 3 audience continues to diminish and 6 Music continues to grow its audience, the BBC should seriously consider it, they must put it on their agenda.

“6 Music is a huge success story for the BBC. They tried to close it down and its audience doubled, they now have more listeners digitally than Radio 3 has got on both digital and the FM network.

“On those terms 6 Music should be knocking at the door for that FM slot and they would have an even bigger audience [on FM]. There are a lot of discriminating music listeners out there, they have built a very powerful brand and a strong offer. They only way they are going to expand is getting an FM slot and I think it’s worth the BBC considering.”
Maybe worth considering, but much more worth rejecting.

Part of the original reason for the existence of 6Music was to help drive digital listening - something that it's done rather well. Moving it across to analogue wouldn't really help with that.

Given there's a hope that the FM and AM radiospace can be handed over to other services in the not-too-distant future, any tenancy on FM would be short-lived anyway.

The idea that 6 can only grow by transferring to FM is flawed, given that it's still growing its audience on digital.

And then there's the question of what would happen to Radio 3 if it shifted to digital-only. It already has a fragile audience; even if you generously assume that half its listeners transfer across to find it - and that we can put up with the resultant drone of audiophiles complaining about sound quality on DAB forever - that low level of audience would appear to be incompatible with the current level of funding Radio 3 receives. So while Tom Watson might say he's not calling for Radio 3 to be closed down, that would effectively be the effect of moving it across before we're at the stage of analogue radio switch-off. (How it will thrive after that, of course, is another question.)


Robin Carmody said...

I'm afraid that Watson - much as I like him - greatly overestimates how establishment classical music is in 2014, and greatly underestimates how establishment rock music is. Very much like a lot of other theoretically good people, of course.

He is undoubtedly a far better man than any of the Blairite fundamentalists ever even tried to be, but where was he when DJ Q, Bailey, Crissy Criss, Robbo Ranx, Young Lion and others were sacrificed by the BBC to keep the Cameronites happy? Completely indifferent, that's where, because (as with so many other left-liberals) where that kind of music is concerned, he suddenly becomes a Mail reader.

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