BBC Plans To Axe 6Music In Its Spring Cleaning Efforts

Posted: February 26, 2010 in Entertainment, Politics
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Whilst the BBC are yet to confirm or deny this, it is pretty safe to say it is planned given that the BBC have, instead of saying yes or no, kept completely silent. Mark Thompson, Director General of the BBC, is set to make swingeing cuts to budgets at all levels as the Corporation look to save as much money as possible. This means the circa-£6million per year budgeted for 6Music is too much in his eyes.

In the meantime, BBC 3 (which is the channel where programmes cost 21 pence per hour per viewer) will have its budget cut by £10m. You might think “Wow, that’s quite a lot”, but the budget will dip from £93m to £83m so it’s really not that much. The average output cost per hour per viewer across the BBC channels is 7p, so why they pump so much money into BBC3 is beyond me. It doesn’t even run 24 hours a day! BBC3 was originally mandated to develop new programmes in a less harsh environment than the main terrestrial channels, which should mean a tiny budget. Add to that the fact that most shows on BBC3 these days are either repeats or “extra”-style programmes for reality shows and that budget is beginning to look huge. Far too big, in fact. Remember, this budget comes from what we pay in our TV licenses.

6Music has a small but dedicated group of followers, with around 700,000 listening per week. Its target audience tends to be in the 25+ age range, with a wide range of shows from breaking new bands to rarely heard classics. It also employs several extremely knowledgable DJs who operate without that radio sheen that you normally get on mainstream radio. Take Guy Garvey for instance. His show is pre-recorded from his Manchester home, and because of that you sometimes get these little sounds that you wouldn’t get anywhere else, like his doorbell ringing, him slurping on a cup of tea, things like that. He also sounds the most comfortable and relaxed person on radio, which I suppose if you recorded your show from home you would be! Alongside this, he plays some amazing music that most people will never have heard before, alongside little tidbits of information and stories about how he found the music and his passion shine through like a lighthouse on a foggy night. We can’t lose this from the airwaves. It’s exactly that rough unpolished feel that makes 6Music what it is and radio needs more, not less, of it.

As licence payers, and therefore direct funders of the BBC, we should have a say in this. When is Mark Thompson going to hold public consultation over these cuts? When will we be able to have our say on what should stay and what should go? It’s likely we’ll never get that say. The reason these budget cuts are happening is because it is an election year, and with Conservatives ready to take over the running of the country (probably) then they are wanting to be in the best financial shape for when the Tories make their inevitable cuts to all sorts of services. The cuts that are planned are completely wrong. The BBC is supposed to be mandated to provide educational content in the main, with entertainment as a bonus. But because of the nature of TV they’ve become pretty much the same as the commercial channels, providing empty entertainment, the sort of shows that nobody remembers in a couple of weeks, never mind for years afterwards.

The BBC should get back to basics, cut out the dross on their network and keep the original and best programming, alongside discovering new acting talents, comedians etc. There should be less reliance on bought-in content like most of the quiz shows (Endemol produce a lot of the shows on pretty much all channels), and more funding for writers and presenters.

Cutting out 6Music shows that Mark Thompson either doesn’t care or doesn’t have the guts to stand up and be a leader at the BBC. Time to move aside and let someone do the job who knows what needs doing. It won’t happen, though. The BBC is doomed to be bloated forever.


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