It’s vitally important to work with the grain of the BBC’s own process. Kicking up a fuss online is all well and good – and important to show that there is strength of feeling – but the BBC must not be left the opportunity to say that this strength of feeling was not reflected in its formal consultations.
The first stage in the process appears to be a 12-week consultation, starting today and ending on May 25th. This is not a consultation on the specifics of the closure plans, but on the principles of the strategic review presented by Mark Thompson. Nonetheless, supporters of 6Music and the Asian Network should respond to it:
- politely – no abuse towards Mark Thompson or the BBC, and no childish threats to withold the licence fee
- responding to the questions asked, and making the link between the strategic principles and 6Music /the Asian Network – there’s nothing wrong with mentioning them specifically, but this will be most effective if you make clear you understand it is not a formal consultation on shutting them down.
The Trust’s review is due to publish a provisional report on the BBC’s strategy by the summer and a final strategy in the autumn. Only then is the BBC expected to put formal proposals before the Trust to close 6Music and the Asian Network (it may be that the idea can be killed off even before then).
At that point, further lobbying of the Trust, the Government and MPs must take place.
If the Trust still decides to take th decision to close the stations, it may be possible to take it to judicial review (this will either need c. £100,000 of funding to do it effectively, or some 6Music / Asian Network listeners with legal training an a willingness to do the work pro bono).
If that fails, then will be the time for civil disobedience. But we’re a long way from that yet – this argument is clearly winnable without that.