BBC 6 Music saved

Posted on July 5, 2010

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Today’s announcement from the BBC Trust about digital music station 6 Music’s reprieve (temporary or otherwise) is a victory for those who truly understand the value of public service broadcasting. For Channel 4 News it also raises the question of to what extent the social media campaign to #save6music had an influence on decision makers.The Guardian’s Organ Grinder Steve Busfield raises some other points too.

But coming so soon after an announcement about pay cuts and the shocking (if predictable) announcement about BBC pensions, saving BBC 6 Music could also be seen as in-keeping with the present rather bleak economic outlook.

At a time when cuts are being implemented across the public sector, taxes rising and benefits reduced, cutting a niche radio station (in terms of its output, the total running cost compared favourably) whilst maintaining high salaries of ‘top’ on-air talent for mainstream programming would have been a rather odd thing to do.

Put simply, whilst the annual running costs for the station are considerably higher than most ‘talent’ on the BBC’s books, its public service contribution is considerably more valuable. By cutting the things (or at the very least reducing them) and maintaining the output, the BBC is sending out a clear signal its focussed on the content and the audience.

In saving the station (and really, it had better be saved for good and not go through one of those rather ‘odd’ rebrands later when everyone reckons the unpleasantness has been forgotten), a clear signal has been sent out. It sets an important precedent. BBC 6 Music will be the yardstick for anyone who finds him or herself sat around a large table arguing the toss about the value of a particular project.

Quality, intelligent content targeted at a core audience is what the BBC is and should remain all about. By doing so, a proportion of the audience who funds it has their interests reflected appropriately. Shame the same can’t be said about the Asian Network.

The picture above was taken by freelance photojournalist Joel Rowbottom at 6 Music presenter Tom Robinson’s 60th Birthday Gig at Shepherd’s Bush Empire earlier this year.

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Posted in: Audio & Music