Entertainment & Arts

BBC considers Asian Network U-turn

Shay and Sunny Grewal
Shay and Sunny Grewal present Asian Network's weekend breakfast show

The BBC is reconsidering plans to close digital station the Asian Network saying "no decisions have been made".

This is despite the planned closure being approved in December by the corporation's governing body.

The latest twist follows the BBC Trust's decision in July to reject management plans to shut 6 Music, after a high-profile campaign by the station's supporters.

BBC director general Mark Thompson announced plans to cut both last March.

A BBC spokesperson said the corporation was "exploring whether the Asian Network should remain on the national DAB" - the digital radio network.

"No decisions have been made and any proposals will be subject to approval by the BBC Trust," the spokesperson added.

A campaign to save 6 Music last year prompted many new listeners to try the station, doubling its audience to more than a million a week.

The Asian Network's fate prompted far fewer protests and, unlike 6 Music, it was not reprieved by the BBC Trust.

The trust previously told executives it wanted to see "a proposition for meeting the needs" of the Asian Network audience "in different ways".

But in December, it said strategy review plans to close the station could go ahead.

Now the BBC is considering whether it should continue to be broadcast as a national digital station, but with a smaller budget, following the recent licence fee settlement.

Under the BBC's original plans, the Asian Network would have been replaced by local Asian services, on radio and online.

Despite the threat of closure, figures from industry body Rajar showed the Asian Network's weekly audience had grown to 477,000 during the last three months of 2010 - up 33% on the previous year.

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