The Future of 6 Music

Tuesday 13 April 2010, 18:42

Tim Davie Tim Davie Director of Audio & Music

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6 Music has been a hot topic since we announced the proposal to close the network in the Strategy Review. The speculation about its future took a new twist over the weekend with a newspaper report that claimed that the network is set to be rebranded as Radio 2 Extra.

Firstly, let me make it clear that, while we have proposed rebranding Radio 7 as Radio 4 Extra, there are no such plans for 6 Music. But I should also explain that the proposals made in the Strategy Review are the first part of a process. The BBC Trust are currently consulting the public on those proposals and nothing will happen until after the consultation is closed.

In my previous blog - here - I outlined the rationale for the closure of 6 Music and said that we will reinvest any funds from the proposed closure of 6 Music in digital radio content. This commitment to digital radio remains and we are looking at a number of ways of doing this. I said we would look at protecting some 6 Music programming by redeploying it elsewhere and considering how we can also do justice to its legacy in areas like new music development. This commitment also remains. But simply rebranding 6 Music as Radio 2 Extra is not one of our plans.

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  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 2.

    Oh good, 2 Extra was a silly idea anyway - almost totally different audiences, like Radio 1 and 6Music. Which is why the crumbs that you still deem fit to throw out ('some 6 Music programming....redeploying..') make even less sense.

    Do you ever stop? Every single person from us poor listeners, through musicians, the BPI, the press all the way up to apparently Gordon Brown are telling you that this is a damn fool idea and you still persist. We don't want your meagre offerings and talk of 'legacy'. We want a vibrant, award winning, serious alternative popular music station to be proud of. Actually, the one we already have. Not a few pathetic 'specialist' offerings in the middle of the night on inappropriate stations.

    I'm prepared to conceded that you have no grasp of the nuances of popular music and why Robert Wyatt or Can may not appeal to an audience more familiar with Lady Ga Ga or Jamie Cullum. So why not talk to people who do, take their advice on board and come back to the table with a more appropriate response.

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    Comment number 3.

    Glad to hear you deny this Mr Davie. 2 Extra is a terrible idea - the fans of the comfy, mainstream Horlicks alternative are well served enough already. Extra Katie Melua and Jamie Cullum for all! No thanks. Radio 2 listeners don't cross over with 6Music listeners much at all, as I am sure you are aware. Us bohemian, less mainstream music listeners pay our licence fee as well, you know.

    However, who was it who leaked this to the papers? Didn't come from the Press Office - I think this sort of thing (kite flying) should be nipped in the bud. Very unprofessional, whoever was responsible.

    Closing 6Music remains a dreadful idea which I vehemently oppose, but shackling it to Radio 2, which it resembles not at all, would not benefit either 6Music listeners or Radio 2 listeners. Please embrace its distinctiveness and keep it going as it is.

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    Comment number 4.


    You state in your blog the following (in summary);

    1) All monies saved are to be reinvested in digital radio content.
    2) You are protecting some of the content by redeploying it elsewhere.
    3) You are looking into how to support new music development.

    Can I ask, in light of the above, what the point of the closure is? It is not about saving money, as it is being spent elsewhere, you are going to move content elsewhere, and you are going to support new music. Why not leave 6Music as it is and achieve all three objectives anyway? I have to say how disappointing it is to be watching the quite obvious confusion of senior management within the BBC when discussing the future of network radio.

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    Comment number 5.

    Tim, it's good to hear that you think the 2Extra plan is ridiculous. I should point out a minor grammatical error in your blog though, you state:
    "The BBC Trust are currently consulting the public on those proposals and nothing will happen _until_ after the consultation is closed."
    when I think perhaps you meant to write:
    "The BBC Trust are currently consulting the public on those proposals and nothing will happen after the consultation is closed."
    I say this because the massive public outcry, and the numerous logical arguments for keeping 6Music just as it is, that counter the spurious illogical arguments for axing it, made to the BBC Trust by licence payers, musicians and the music industry, experts from the media, MPs, and the commercial broadcasters mean that any other decision would clearly show that the BBC Trust had not listened to these people and the Consultation was just a procedural sham.

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    Comment number 6.

    Can you perhaps explain what these plans actually are, rather than what they are not?

    It seems extremely odd to close something with plans to reallocate the monies, but not specify what the money will be spent on.

    How do you know the things you dont know what they are will be (a) cheaper per listener hour and (b) of higher quality [your stated aims] than what you have now, if you dont know what these things are?

    I imagine you would get a lot more respect if you would be straight about what the replacement is. 6Music is not perfect. It could certainly be improved during the daytime. What are your plans?

    People might well actively support the alternative if it is better than what there is now.

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    Comment number 7.

    Tim. Please can you give a more detailed explanation as to how you plan to "do justice to its legacy" if 6music is closed?

    My understanding is that Radio 2 is to be asked to increase the talk content and appeal to an older audience. I don't see how incorporating any existing 6music material fits into that plan.

    I don't believe you will squeeze anything into the Radio 1 schedule at any sociable time of day.

    Now you say there are no plans for a Radio 2 Extra.

    So where will 6music content go? Please put some detail to your vague statements.

    As I have stated several times, I have yet to hear a logical argument for the closure of 6music. Putting quality first and closing 6music are completely at odds. Why are senior BBC executives so unwilling or unable to answer the many challenges put to them regarding this?

    Please stop whoever it is at the BBC from leaking things to The Times. The last leak proved to be all too accurate.

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    Comment number 8.

    Well, Tim, the campaign continues and so will the embarrassment for the BBC Board of Directors and 6Music WILL be saved. This is our BBC and we decide the future of it. Not Mr Thompson.

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    Comment number 9.

    Furthermore, we are owed a public meeting with the BBC Board. In fact, we demand it.

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    Comment number 10.

    As people have said, the campaign to keep 6 Music as it is will continue. The licence payer was promised a station such as 6 Music on digital when the then head of regions (I think the title was) closed the popular, but equally under-promoted GLR in London.

    I really feel those in senior management have little idea of the spectrum of music produced in the past 50 years. 6 Music is much more like Radio 3 in its understanding of music. Radio 1 & 2 are more Classic FM.. and I think people like the BBC and are happy to pay the license because we don't have adverts.

    Basing arguments on audience figures is something you do at your peril - as the retiring controller R4 said on Today today.

    The BBC may be attempting to stifle debate, not acknowleging the number of comments to it and the trust, not mentioning the large protest in Langham Place a few weeks ago, hardly mentioning the comments of a leading politician in the Radio Times. Please, come here with an example of how you would integrate 6 into other services. I also believe that management should hold public meetings to explain the closures - it happened when GLR was closed (even if not listened to). Please come and face the people who pay your wages and justify your proposals.

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    Comment number 11.

    Hello Mr Davie,

    Trust you are well after your big trip!

    Unfortunately the first few leaks were spot on, so forgive us for being skeptical. I really think you should work to stop them getting out.

    On a second point, we just can't seem to get to the bottom of some of the evidence Mr Thompson and Ms Thomson have been putting forth. Can you please, on behalf of listeners, let us know how the evidence for the 4000 unique listeners was gathered - and then explain its relevance?

    Thanks in advance,


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    Comment number 12.

    Radio 2Extra is a dumb idea. Even dumber is closing 6Music.

    It will be interesting to see the outcome of the consultation. This will be the BBC Trust's biggest test to date - so will they rubber stamp what the BBC Management lay in front of them or will they listen to the consultation submissions from the license payers ?

    If I were a betting man I'd be putting money on the latter, else what is the point of the BBC Trust if it pays no attention to the people who pay the bills.

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    Comment number 13.

    Dear Tim,

    Closing 6 Music would be an appalling idea, rebranding it as R2 xtra would be equally as bad. Terry Wogan's Freak Zone???? Their is limited crossover between the two stations, Mark Lamarr is the only decent thing on Radio 2 at the best of time and he's only ever on after 10pm. Hardly primetime is he?

    A much better idea is NOT closing 6 Music at all and instead leaving it to continue doing the wonderful public service job of playing music that is available any where else on radio. 6 Music is an education and a joy to listen to. Lets keep it that way.

    Viva la 6!

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    Comment number 14.

    And while you're at it, get John Tait to list the "similar" stations to 6Music to which he referred in his response to the parliamentary committee. I've asked him twice and he doesn't seem to be able to think of any. I'm pretty sure putting forward fact without evidence to support it to parliamentarians is not a good idea.

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 16.

    Hello again Tim,

    I'd just like to voice my agreement to all of the excellent points made in replies to your blog post, a big hear hear to reply no 4 from Rob Nickson. A lot of these points have been made before and while we answer each and every one of your so called arguments you, Mark Thompson, Caroline Thomson and John Tate have responded to precisely none of ours.

    All we ask is for an hour of your time on 6music or some other public forum to have a reasonable question and answer session. Need I remind you that WE pay your wages? Maybe you're now finding that life was easier in the private sector.

    As others have said maybe if you were to reveal exactly how the crumbs will be redeployed you might find some support from some small corner or other. As it is you have no support (save your above mentioned and embattled cohorts) while opposing your suggestions you have the save 6music campaign/listeners, the music industry, politicians (including the PM), commercial broadcasters, the media, BBC staff.

    So, in short, figure out your plans concisely (you get paid enough by us to do so) then come back to us with your ideas and do us the courtesy of answering our questions.

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    Comment number 17.

    Well, we've heard what you're apparently not going to do. There's been precious little detail as to what you DO propose. That's apart from closing a well-loved station for a relatively paltry 9m saving (not far off Chris Moyles' salary).

    Give it up, for god's sake. Everybody - the media, the music industry, commercial radio, even the PM - thinks this is a bad idea. Just hold your hands up and say you were wrong and we'll let it go. Everybody's entitled to a mistake now and again.

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 19.

    So, if we're to get this clear in our heads, this Radio 2 Extra idea, which just happened to be mentioned in exactly the same place that the initial Strategy Review was leaked to, and which Tom Robinson mentioned at the 6 Music protest a couple of weeks ago, definitely isn't on anyone's agenda and hadn't ever crossed anybody's mind at all?

    Well, tell you what Tim, you're a hell of a marketing man. I'd believe anything you told me.

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    Comment number 20.

    Tim When are you just going to admit this was all a terrible PR blunder, even Gordon Brown is onside! 6 music is unique and is exactly the type of station the BBC must retain. I am also very sorry to see you seem to be making decisions before the review is completed. You already know the outcry against this ludicrous idea and you also know that neither R1 or R2 can ever fill the gap you are proposing. The handling of this has been a disgrace and I echo previous comments - come out and face the public - tell us which stations you believe will fill the gap you propose to make. Why not allow us a public meeting? This whole episode brings further disgrace on the BBC and it is not the peasants that are revolting but rather the top brass for showing complete ineptitude in this sorry saga!


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