How to save BBC 6Music (3) – respond to the consultation

There is a public consultation exercise on the proposed reforms to the BBC. It is open until May 25th, and can be found online here.

At the time of writing the page was running slow and unreliably. But in any case it is worth taking a bit of time to consider responses to the questions before diving in.

To save you ploughing through the survey for a dummy run, here is the questionnaire in full. A free-text box follows all questions.

The BBC’s strategic principles
The Director-General has proposed five high level principles which would set the future direction of the BBC. These are:

  • putting quality first, including five areas of editorial focus for all BBC services
  • doing fewer things better – including stopping activities in some areas
  • guaranteeing access for all licence fee payers to BBC services
  • making the licence fee work harder – being efficient and offering better value for money
  • setting new boundaries

The Trust agrees that the BBC should have a set of published principles and, when these are agreed, we will ensure that the BBC is held to account for acheiving them.

Some of the proposed principles are in response to challenges the Trust has set the BBC – such as focussing on high quality programmes and considering whether the current range of services is too large. We endorse these five principles, although we have not agreed to specific proposals in each area.

Do you think these are the right principles?

Should the BBC have any other strategic principles?

Proposed principle: Putting Quality First
We know that you have very high expectations of BBC programmes and services.  We also know that most BBC programmes and services meet audience expectations, but that some do not.  The Trust will always push the BBC to do better in this respect and we’re keen to know what you think.

Which BBC output do you think could be higher quality?

Offering you something special
The Trust believes that the BBC needs to do more than offer high quality programmes and services.

We know that your expectations of the BBC are that it offers something special to you – something distinctive and better than other broadcasters. For example, the BBC should offer you thoroughly independent and impartial news, it should introduce you to new talent in drama and comedy, and its radio stations should play pop music that other radio stations don’t.

The Trust knows that you think the BBC could do more to be original and different in some areas.

Which areas should the BBC make more distinctive from other broadcasters and media?

The Five Editorial Priorities
The Director-General has proposed that all BBC services should be focussed on some or all of five editorial priorities.

The Director-General’s proposed editorial priorities are:

  • The best journalism in the world
  • Inspiring knowledge, music and culture
  • Ambitious UK drama and comedy
  • Outstanding children’s content
  • Events that bring communities and the nation together

The Trust thinks that the proposed editorial priorities fit well with those things you have told us are important to you in our previous research, but we want to consider how these priorities should be delivered to you in the future.

Do these priorities fit with your expectations of BBC TV, radio and online services?

Proposed principle: Doing fewer things and doing them better
The Trust believes that BBC must offer the highest quality programming. We have previously told the Director-General that we think that the pursuit of higher quality may mean doing less overall.

The Director-General has proposed a number of areas where the BBC could reduce or stop activities altogether. The suggestions are to:

  • Close Radio 6 Music and focusing the BBC’s pop music output on Radio 1 and Radio 2
  • Close Asian Network as a national service and aiming to serve Asian audiences better in other ways on other BBC services
  • Change BBC local radio stations, by investing more in breakfast, morning and drivetime shows, but share content across local stations at other times of the day
  • Close the BBC’s teen zone, BBC Switch
  • Close the teenage learning offer Blast!
  • Make the BBC’s website smaller, with fewer sections. (We do not yet have the details of what will be cut)

We can assure you that decisions have not yet been taken on any of these areas and that we will consider each area very carefully before doing so.

We welcome your views on these areas.

Proposed principle: Guaranteeing access to BBC services
The growth of digital technologies and platforms has led to greater choice and convenience for many people in terms of how they receive and consume TV and radio programmes.

Many of the BBC’s TV, radio and online services are now delivered to you in several ways. For example, many BBC radio services are available on AM, FM and DAB radio, digital television and online devices. However, the Trust recognises that some BBC services are still unavailable on the main platforms, such as FM or DAB, in parts of the UK.

The Trust believes that there is a fine balance to be struck here – between giving you the chance to receive BBC services in all the ways and devices you may have and making sure that the BBC doesn’t spend too much on delivering BBC content to you, rather than on the content itself.

If you have particular views on how you expect BBC services to be available to you, please let us know.

The BBC archive
The BBC is always considering ways in which it can make its programmes available to you at no cost. For example, recent TV and radio programmes are already available to you soon after broadcast on the BBC iPlayer.

The Trust is not considering specific proposals from the Director-General in this area at this point, but welcome any views you may have on having access to recently broadcast and to older BBC programming.

Please tell us if you have views on this area.

Proposed principle: Making the licence fee work harder
One of the Trust’s priorities is to ensure that the BBC offers excellent value for money, by being efficient and by making effective use of its income. We think that it is right that you expect this of the BBC.

The Trust welcomes the Director-General’s proposals to ensure that the BBC offers value for money and, specifically, we support the aim to maximise the proportion of the licence fee that is spent on programming. However, we know that there will be more do to, in order to achieve this.

If you are concerned about the BBC’s value for money, please tell us why.

Proposed principle: Setting new boundaries for the BBC
The Trust has asked the Director-General to consider where the BBC could be clearer about the limits to its activities as we know there is considerable demand for this from other broadcasters and media companies and the BBC has a responsibility to consider its competitive impact on others.

The Director-General has set out a list of proposed limits to BBC activity. These are:

  • Reducing the BBC offer in pop music radio by closing 6 Music
  • Closing niche services for teenagers: BBC Switch and Blast!
  • Reducing BBC expenditure on programmes bought from abroad  – for example,  American films and dramas
  • Limiting BBC expenditure on sports rights
  • Not offering any more localised services than the BBC already does – for example, new services for individual towns or cities
  • Making the BBC website more focussed on particular areas.

The Trust has carried out work in some of these areas already and we support some aspects to these limits: making the BBC’s website focussed and distinctive and setting limits to the BBC’s local media offer.

In many other areas, we recognise there are trade-offs. For example, buying a US drama can mean that viewers are offered a high quality programme at lower cost than would be possible with a new British programme.

The Trust has not taken decisions in any of these areas and we will consider each one very carefully before doing so.

Do you think that the BBC should limit its activities in these areas?

Should any other areas be on this list?



  1. I listened to 6 Music for the first time last month to see what I would be missing. I have been very impressed with the quality of music and presenters. I have now switched from radio 5 Live to 6 Music when not in the car.

    If BBC want to close a radio station for economic reasons then I would have thought Radio 3 was a better choice – Classic FM alreday fills that space better

  2. I spent time filling in the BBC’s online consultation (extremely slow and rather ambiguous questions) only for it all to be lost. Are they serious abou consulting? If so, they should have a system that works.

  3. I am totally staggered that the BBC intends to close down BBC 6 Music – it is the best station on the radio and the only reason to own a digital radio. I am 41 years old and find it torture to listen to the moronic drivel coming from Radio 1 and 2 . Remember the excuse being used by the BBC is not “cuts” – they will reallocate the money from the loss of 6 music to other things. SO WHY???? I havent heard any remotely sensible explanation from any of the Trust’s or BBC management’s people on this. BBC6 Music’s audience IS GROWING. On the other hand the BBC Asian Network is declining. Maybe this is another case of political correctness/fear of being seen as racist as the main motivator fro the BBC’s barking mad proposal.

  4. I bought a digital radio so I could listen to 6 Music…….

    What’s the point of having one should 6 Music be closed down?

    Surely this is a huge step backwards to broadcasting.

    I would even pay a few £pounds more on my TV license just to keep it.

  5. Every executive at the BBC already knows, everyone who listens to 6 Music already knows: it will not in fact be closed down. The reason it will not be closed down is because to do so would be wall-eyed insanity. The station is popular. The most salient argument for 6 Music’s survival, which I’m sure you people are all very bored of hearing by now, is that it provides features and genres of music which cannot be found anywhere else. The Freak Zone, for instance, is a scholarly show the like of which no other station would have in a thousand years. Its obscurity is impossible to criticise, since there’s no criteria for what records or genre of record is played, only that it’s beautiful and non-chart. And here we come to the nub of the matter. Are you afraid of beauty, BBC? Are you afraid of individuality? I think you are. Would you prefer that we all listen to Radio Two and its gobshite clone Radio One (or vice-versa)… and pretend that (C-word) Poloma Faith has been around forever, and represents the zenith, the zeitgeist of music? I don’t want to listen to f Poloma Faith. I don’t want to listen to f Coldplay, I don’t want to listen to f Michael Bublay. I don’t want to listen to F Tichy Snyder, I don’t want to listen to f Greenday, I don’t want to listen to f Pendulum. You may have taken my shoelaces, but if you try to make me listen to anything from a Simon Cowell reality show, I will pull out one of my fingernails and use it to cut into my jugular. If you strap my arms down to prevent this, I will simply swallow my tongue. Try to sedate me, then. But I will always be conscious enough to will myself to death, rather than listen to that indie-personality-vacuum Zane Lowe, or yet another anecdote about Jo Wiley’s hundred f kids.

    I want to listen to Radiohead, and Aphex Twin, and Paul Weller. I want to listen to Talking Heads, Air and The Fall. Did you hear what I just said? That’s right. THE FALL. I want alt-prog-rock, and Northern Soul, and funk, and free jazz, and unexpected, semi-forgotten Brit-pop. Tell me any other radio station that has these genres on tap, and I’ll leave you to your bland, bureaucratic mire. I’m sorry BBC radio executive: probably, you can barely even distinguish between Radiohead and f Keane. You either understand having a personality or you don’t. If you want, you can resign, and I’ll do your job for the minimum wage.

    In terms of 6 Music presenters – how can anyone fault them? Whoever recruited them made a conscious decision to get established, cult figures. Huey Morgan – say what you like about him, but he’s lived what amounts to dozens of rock and roll lifetimes. Then you’ve got the musical scholars such as Stuart Maconie, Tom Robinson, The Boy Lard. Adam and Joe are the best, most subtle comedians of the nineties – they embody the nineties. Even George Lamb. I hate George Lamb, but I still like him better than any other BBC radio presenter. Do you understand?

    If all else fails, there is this. Whichever beetle-faced Cenobite drew up the list of disposable BBC radio stations… if I deliberately suppress my personality and sense of discernment, I can maybe, at a supreme stretch of the imagination, see that 6 Music isn’t at the top of the list of stations to be saved. But to imagine that it’s more disposable than 1-Xtra? No. There’s being clinical and giving the benefit of the doubt, and then there’s death itself. Apophatic, the Nth point of entropy. 1-Xtra, my friend, is dross incarnate. Get rid of that, and will anybody anywhere complain? Oh yes, and before I forget: not only do I want 6-Music to stay, I want Chris Morris to have a show on it.

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