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Putting Quality First

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Mark Thompson Mark Thompson | 09:31 UK time, Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Today I'm going to set out the conclusions of a piece of strategic thinking we've done over the past few months. We're calling it 'Putting quality first'. Last summer, the BBC Trust and I agreed to formulate proposals for the shape and direction of the BBC in the second half of the Charter from 2012 to 2016.

You may have read plenty of speculation of some of the specific recommendations of this review. This morning I will be giving clarity on the detail, but also putting the review in the proper context. The proper context is not: how big should the BBC be? The right question is: what is the BBC for? Get the answer to that right and everything else - editorial priorities, size and scope, role online - everything else flows from it.

The BBC has one mission: to inform, educate and entertain audiences with programmes and services of high quality, originality and value. That is not up for debate. What today is about is how we are going to deliver that mission.

The external environment has changed beyond recognition over the last two years - explosive growth in digital, big changes in audience behaviour and a commercial sector facing real strain and new pressures. It is exactly because the media is changing so fast that we must articulate our public service mission and our values more clearly and consistently than ever before. We must explore new ways of delivering our mission - and of ensuring that the benefits of digital can be enjoyed by all. There can be no turning back on our digital journey.

We therefore have to change how we deliver and fulfil our core purpose. But these reasons alone do not explain why we will today set-out our new strategy. The BBC needs to acknowledge that we must also change the way we behave and act. As broadcasters and newspapers bump into each other online and on other platforms the strain has increased.

We also have to recognise the profound challenges facing much of commercial media. And that, while some attacks made on the BBC are destructive and baseless, others represent legitimate concern about the boundaries of what we do, and about our future public service and commercial ambitions. We need to listen more closely than we have in the past to these. We have not always been clear enough about our boundaries or recognising where the market should lead. We now need to create more space for others. We can't do everything and, after years of expansion of our home services, we propose some reductions.

Our new strategy addresses all these issues. Firstly and most importantly, it will bring an unprecedented focus on high-quality programmes. Quality is our raison d'être. The BBC exists to deliver to audiences in the UK and around the world, programmes and content of real quality and value - content which audiences would never enjoy if the BBC did not exist.

We will refocus licence fee investment around five clear priorities: the best journalism; inspiring knowledge, music and culture; ambitious UK drama and comedy; outstanding children's content; and events that bring communities and the nation together. We will focus on the areas which most clearly build public value and which are most at risk of being ignored or under-invested in by commercial players.

The BBC will live or die by the quality of its programmes and content. We will retain an unswerving, unwavering, unflagging focus on quality. To ensure we do, we are committing to unprecedented investment in high-quality, original UK content. We will do this in part by reducing the cost of running the BBC and reducing spending on programmes from abroad. Carefully selected acquisitions are valued by audiences but our priority is original, UK content.

We will also deliver a more focused BBC doing fewer things better and leaving space for others by setting clearer boundaries. It will pledge new ways of guaranteeing access to licence fee payers to see and hear our content first and for free. And we will deliver greater value by making the licence fee work harder for the wider economy.

But the strategy review will only be a start. I want things to change further at the BBC. My ambition is for us to become more confident and proud of the fact that we exist to be different. Our purpose is not to make money, it is to enrich people's lives by capturing the essence of Britain today and making sure everyone can access excellence in programmes and content whoever they are.

Some critics will always say this is not enough and will never stop in trying to further erode the BBC - they will be disappointed by what we have announced today. Our loyalty and prime responsibility will always be to our audiences - we know they want a strong BBC, clear about its purpose and delivering services they love, value and can be proud of.


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  • Comment number 1.

    How do you square "Putting Quality First" with the decision to axe 6 Music, the single best demonstration of quality your entire Corporation makes? If it's to save the likes of BBCs 1 and 3 from cuts then you've a very, very strange idea of what constitutes quality.

  • Comment number 2.

    "Quality is our raison d'être. The BBC exists to deliver to audiences in the UK and around the world, programmes and content of real quality and value - content which audiences would never enjoy if the BBC did not exist."

    This describes 6 Music perfectly, which leads me to the conclusion that you either did not write the above article or you did not make the decision to axe 6 Music, because no sane person would say and do two things that would lead to such humiliating contradiction.

  • Comment number 3.

    I'm appalled to hear of the potential closure of both 6 Radio and the Asian network; both of these stations fulfil *exactly* the brief that the BBC should be following. In the first instance, the stations showcase new acts, and is indeed John Peel's legacy, if you like. In the second, the station pulls together a national community, and integrates it with more mainstream radio.

    I'd be the first to agree that the BBC is overarching, overpaid (mostly), and out of control - the web sites are a case in point. But if you need to make cuts, then make them sensibly. Radio 1 could easily be sold to a commercial entity - its programming lends itself to that, and we the licence fee payers wouldn't have to fund Chris Moyles. Get rid of BBC3 - it's pointless rubbish, designed to hook an audience that isn't interested in television, in the main.

    You need to keep these radio stations - you really do. If they're not widely known, then ask yourselves WHY NOT? It's your responsibility to get them out there.

  • Comment number 4.

    What does the BBC stand for? The many or the few? Or both perhaps? 6 Music is the kind of offering that used to make the BBC worth defending. The website is the envy of the world. How about cutting one episode of Eastenders per week? Would this saving pay for 6 Music? I'd be interested to know Mr. Thompson's opinion on the artistic and cultural value offered by Eastenders and I'd love to know why some licence fee payers appear to have more value than others. How about turning off the free phone lines on 5 Live for an hour a day? Many of the phone ins are awful and surely have less intrinsic value than entertaining and informative music programming.
    This latest announcement is really depressing. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm beginning to wonder how much worse off I'd be without the BBC.
    I'm sorry, but I have to ask: has Mr. Thompson listend to Guy Garvey, Donn Letts or Jarvis Cocker on 6 Music? Does he watch Eastenders and BBC3?

  • Comment number 5.

    Unlike many people I really couldn't give a stuff about 6 Music...

    What I want to see is a dramatically slimmed down BBC. There's a nice chart in the Guardian today (https://bit.ly/9BwClS%29 that shows how much you could get rid of but have failed to do!

    £76 million for two kids channels
    £10 million to broadcast our windbag politicians
    Who knows how much sending masses of people to Beijing, Euro 08, Glastonbury etc.

    If you're going to cut (and boy do you need to) at least choose something that'll make a difference.

    My view is that about a 1/3 of the BBC needs to be culled.

  • Comment number 6.

    "We will refocus licence fee investment around five clear priorities: the best journalism; inspiring knowledge, music and culture; ambitious UK drama and comedy; outstanding children's content; and events that bring communities and the nation together. We will focus on the areas which most clearly build public value and which are most at risk of being ignored or under-invested in by commercial players."

    By agreeing to axe 6 Music? That's the very defintion of hypocrisy. A station that is peerless - it has no commercial equal, and nor will it ever. It is as Reithian as can be.

  • Comment number 7.

    6music exemplifies the BBC's remit to educate, inform and entertain.

    It combines the best aspects of Radios 3 and 4, but for fans of modern music. Its audience is passionate, intelligent and the station has the highest listener appreciation level of any BBC music station.

    There is no alternative in the commercial sector, and who else is going to give us access to the wealth of archive music recordings from the BBC.

    On the one hand 6music has not enough listeners; on the other it is a threat to commercial rivals. These suggestions are mutually incompatible.

    If 6music goes, it will be a nial in the BBC's coffin.

  • Comment number 8.

    You say: "...an unprecedented focus on high-quality programmes. Quality is our raison d'être. The BBC exists to deliver to audiences in the UK and around the world, programmes and content of real quality and value - content which audiences would never enjoy if the BBC did not exist."

    Yes! Quality is *precisely* what we get from stations like 6music and Asian Network. Your proposal to close them down is flawed, because they are exactly what we expect the BBC to deliver. If the BBC won't make 6music, no-one else will.

    You need to cut costs, an admirable thing to do in this economic climate. But cut those things that audiences can get in plentiful from elsewhere; like reality TV talent shows, perhaps.

  • Comment number 9.

    I haven't listened to either but 6 Music and Asian Network would seem to fit perfectly with the BBC's goal of addressing audiences ignored by commercial outlets. BBC3 and BBC 4 by contrast, well, what are they for? BBC3 seems to exist for the sole purpose of allowing BBC producers to hang around with young people. while commissioning shows apparently at random in the hope that at the next Little Britain will magically appear. BBC 4 is even more shameful in my view, allowing the BBC to pretend it is fulfilling a remit for heavyweight broadcasting while leaving space free on the terrestrial channels for audience-grabbing tat.

    An alternative review might suggest keeping the likes of 6 and AN and floating anything that has proved its popularity into the commercial sphere where it can attract much-needed revenue into terrestrial broadcasting. Neighbours seems to be doing fine on 5, for example.

  • Comment number 10.

    As someone who listens to 6 Music every day I think it's an apalling decision.

    6 Music has broken more bands in the last 7 years than probably all of the other radio stations in the UK put together.

    How can you say you want to "put quality first" and yet you propose closing the most innovative, inventive, and quality, radio station in the UK - completely bizarre! Even from an audience perspective it makes little sense as 1 Xtra has lower audience figures and yet that hasn't been touched.

    It is hard enough for a new band to break through in this country as it is, you have now made that challenge even harder.

    If anything Radio's 1 and 2 are the ones that should be shut down as they compete directly with commercial rivals, 6 Music will never have that problem as it is too eclectic and would be commercially un-viable.

  • Comment number 11.

    Yet another massive own goal by the current director general who has consistently cowed in the face of criticism. His only significant contribution to the BBC has been to turn it into an aplogy machine with less backbone than a crab.

    Thousands of people will today be mourning the death of what was once one of the most respected institutions, not only in this country but across the world.

    What is the BBC for if not the Asian Network and 6 Music? If it considers these exependible then it has lost all touch with it's reason for being.

  • Comment number 12.

    This article looks like a load of management speak/media studies bluff. More like what can I cut that wont result in a load of angry letters from the middle class angry letter writers? Radio 1 and 2 are the ones competing with the public sector. 6 music and Asian network aren't, but you'll cut them anyway. What about BBC Three? AKA the 'Two pints of lager and a packet of crisps channel' Why was the show recommissioned for so long? it was dire. You could easily cut back on the dross on that channel. That competes with Five, ITV 2, Dave, Living, Bravo and most of satellite channels. BBC Three and 'Putting quality first' doesn't go together somehow. You read like a real life Gus Hedges.

  • Comment number 13.

    Will Mr. Thompson be taking the time to reply to any of these comments? We are licence fee payers, after all.

  • Comment number 14.

    "...become more confident and proud of the fact that we exist to be different."

    Mark, isn't that the whole point of 6 music? Sometimes I feel that 6 music doesn't go far enough in this direction. Programmes like Tom Robinsons show and the freak zone and Guy Garvi are amazing but to be fair we could do with more. It was a massive missed opportunity to axe "Mixing It" from Radio 3 for example instead of moving it to Radio 6 where it would have been so very welcome.

    Axing 6 music would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater however. 6 music is great! It's the only BBC output I connect with these days. It's all about diversity and looking at new and different things in music. It could do even more of that, but right now it's actually doing really well compared to anything else out there.

    Personally I'm just sad that it isn't out there on the normal radio dial where there are more questionable stations. I mean do we really need radio 5?

  • Comment number 15.

    To lose Six Music would leave me bereft of hope for humanity (drama queen, sorry). There are so many media outlets that appeal to the lowest common denominator, please let this quality shine on. Mark Thompson has obviously never listened to Six Music. If he has and is still considering closing it he is in the wrong job.

  • Comment number 16.

    With regards to your plans to axe 6 Music from the BBC schedule, I implore you to reconsider.

    There simply is no replacement, no alternative for music fans or young talented artists trying to break through.

    Over the years the BBC has been the champion of diversity and what you have created with 6 Music should be viewed as a jewel in your crown. It is unique, adored by its listeners and carries on a much needed tradition of showcasing new talent in the spirit of the late John Peel.

    "The BBC has one mission: to inform, educate and entertain audiences with programmes and services of high quality, originality and value."

    Losing 6 music will be a cultural loss leaving a huge hole that cannot be filled by commercial radio. You will be killing off the very thing you are striving to achieve.

  • Comment number 17.

    I don't listen to 6 Music (although perhaps I should: I'm certainly in the right demographic). I do watch Formula 1.

    That said, I'd rather the BBC "lost" the F1 than 6 Music. Much as it irritates me to say it (and despite the BBC's excellent F1 coverage), commercial broadcasters could (and would) broadcast it, whereas I'm not at all convinced there is a commercial equivalent to 6 Music.

    If the BBC's responsibility is to maintain cultural offerings that are otherwise unlikely to survive in a commercial environment, then I can't help but think spending tens of millions of pounds a year of sporting event and international TV rights is contrary to this aim, however convenient I may personally find it.

  • Comment number 18.

    I find it difficult to comprehend that programming like "Hotter Than My Daughter" and "Snog, Marry, Avoid" (while undoubtedly low cost), should survive when 6 Music does not.

  • Comment number 19.

    I've just looked at some of the figures for 6music, and it is amazing! While being severely hobbled by only being available on DAB, freeview and the internet, it achieves an audience rating almost half that of Radio 3! It does this on less than 1/5 of the budget!

  • Comment number 20.

    Apparently the arguement is, why does the BBC need 3 pop stations? Obviously a decision made by Radio 3 and 4 listeners who haven't a clue. Radio 1s for 'da yoof' and Radio 2 is 'Golden' oldies like the King Singers, Tpau 'China in your hand' and other mediocre dross from the past. To me, BBCs DAB project is now a failure. May as well listen to FM Radio. Slightly less quality, but at least it doesn't make Chris Evans or Chris Moyles sound like a Dalek when you're under trees or in a valley. FM's less battery hungry on personal radios as well. Shame there's nothing worthwhile to listen to outside London on it though.

  • Comment number 21.

    6music is the best output that the BBC currently has. I adore almost all of the programmes on this radio station. I have learnt so much about so many different types of music, it is genuinely an education.

    I promise you, if you close 6music, I will sell my TV and cancel my tv licence. I am not paying £140-odd a year just to put up with the low quality dross that the alternative channels offer. Your TV output has dropped in quality noticeably over the last 18 months: don't kill the highlight of your radio stations as well.

  • Comment number 22.

    The BBC could do much better abroad. BBC America and Canada have terrible repeating content. Why do that and not make as much money, when there is so much at their disposal?

    Talking of repeats I hope this commitment to programming budgets will mean less of them and a broader range.

    As for 6Music and Asian Network, if you are going to bow to commercial pressure it should be Radio 1,2,3 + 5 that go, not these. The BBC News website is quoting these as editorial priorities regarding this:

    1. The best journalism in the world, 2. Inspiring knowledge, music and culture, 3. Ambitious UK drama and comedy, 4. Outstanding children's content and 5. Events that bring communities and the nation together.

    Yet it ignores the key point in the charter that is of concern here:

    (c) stimulating creativity and cultural excellence

  • Comment number 23.

    One of your priorities is 'inspiring knowledge, music and culture'. Radio 6 does that better than anything else the BBC produces, and no commercial organisation has ever done anything like it. Closing it would be madness.

  • Comment number 24.

    Heres a suggestion. We keep 6music but we actually extend it so that it shares terrestrial radio time with radio 5. Normal Radio 5 during the day, 6music overnight. I imagine radio5 isn't that poular overnight anyway compared to it's daytime event based listening. Both stations could still be 24hours on dab/freeview/internet etc.

    We make more of 6 musics remit to "break new bands and discover new and different talent" which shows like Tom Robinsons try to achieve. We also expand on its place as a station for things that are more experimental weird or different. Diversity in music like you might find on the "Freak zone" or the ex Radio 3 programme "Mixing it".

    If we need to save money we lose BBC3 and expand on BBC 1,2 and 4 instead.

    Entertain, educate and inform. Much BBC output seems to be almost entirely about the first. 6music has always had a strong mix of the latter two as well. Lets build on that!

  • Comment number 25.

    As someone who works in Commercial Radio, I can confidently say there is no commercial station which will fill the gap 6 Music will leave, not because the commercial sector is unable, but because they are unwilling.

    6 Music is a perfect example of the kind of content the BBC should be producing, axeing it simply shows what kind of GD you are, one who bows to pressure from the Murdoch clan and the conservatives, and doesn't pay attention to the very people you are supposed to be serving.

    Cuts need to be made to Radio 1 and 2, as they are the very areas that stifle the commercial sector because they are the areas the commercial sector covers, and will continue to cover. Radio 1Extra is a perfect example of a digital only station that could go.

    6 Music was spearheading the digital radio conversion process. Everyone I know who owns a DAB radio bought it specifically for 6 Music.

    I can only hope the BBC Trust knows what it is doing more than you do, Mark, and blocks the proposals to cut 6 Music and Asian Network. I do not listen to Asian network but I know that it is very important, and again the commercial sector will not pick up the space it leaves.

    I will be withholding my license fee next year, I cannot fund the cultural vandalism that is taking place by paying Mark Thompson's (rather ridiculous) salary.

  • Comment number 26.

    I have just completed the consultation pages for the strategic review. I note that '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'

    Pop music? Where exactly? It doesn't play pop music. It plays alternative music that is, crucially, not avaliable to listen to elsewhere on the airwaves.

    I have been following this story for the last few days and I have not seen a single justification for axing 6 Music that makes any sense.

  • Comment number 27.

    Why the need to mess around with the excellent service that Radio 2 provides? In all the hype over 6 Music, people seem to miss that with the increase in "Speech" on R2, it'll become veer closer to R4. And that's simply unacceptable.

    Some of us who are licensee fee payers also want foreign content; I can't imagine Mad Men or Damages being picked up by other TV channels. Remember, it was BBC 2 that broke '24' in the UK, and that has proven to be one of the most successful imports in the last 10 years.

    Time to stop talking and start listening.

  • Comment number 28.

    I don't know how you can square away you desire to refocus licence fee with one of your priorities being music and culture with the closure of 6 Music, which has become a hugely important platform for newer artists establishing themselves.

    Additionally, while the commercial sector is undoubtedly facing big challenges, I would argue that stations like Radio 1 and 5 Live compete much more with commercial broadcasters.

    6 Music is a unique station that the BBC can be proud of, and axing it is a huge mistake.

  • Comment number 29.

    “The BBC has one mission: to inform, educate and entertain audiences with programmes and services of high quality, originality and value”
    This describes exactly what 6Music does

    “ensuring that the benefits of digital can be enjoyed by all”
    The reason I bought a digital radio, was to listen to 6Music and not have to be tied to a computer.

    “We now need to create more space for others.”
    Who will run the type of programming 6Music does in the private sector? XFM used to, before it was taken over by capital and became a pale shadow of its former self.

    “Quality is our raison d'être.”
    Explain how ‘Hotter Than My Daughter’, ‘Snog, Marry Avoid’, and Undercover Princesses were commissioned then. All on BBC3 too, funny, some might say BBC3 doesn’t fit into the BBC’s remit, it’s like E4 without the adverts.

    “five clear priorities: the best journalism (the likes of Lauren Laverne, Gideon Coe, Jarvis Cocker etc); inspiring knowledge (see my previous point about the DJs on 6Music), music and culture (again, something 6Music delivers in spades); ambitious UK drama and comedy; outstanding children's content; and events that bring communities and the nation together (Festival coverage)”
    That’s three from the list

    “My ambition is for us to become more confident and proud of the fact that we exist to be different.”
    Why the hell are you cutting 6Music then? A station whose raison d’etre is to be different!

    “Some critics will always say this is not enough and will never stop in trying to further erode the BBC - they will be disappointed by what we have announced today.”
    Some critics (including this one) will say that you are eroding the very values the BBC embodies by cutting 6Music. I’m utterly disgusted with this decision, especially when a bargain basement channel such as BBC3 continues to exist, and commercially-focused programming remains on Radio 1 and 2, along with the utterly unnecessary 1Extra.

    Reconsider the cutting of 6Music please, before it's too late. There are too few unique voices in the broadcasting world and you aim to remove another. I've already sent an email of complaint regarding this and got the standard response. I will also be signing the petition and doing what I can to raise awareness. I've always supported the BBC against its critics. This move may give me cause to reconsider.

  • Comment number 30.

    This is a review to appease the political pressure, the political pressure is there to appease the commercial lobbists where do the people get a say in this? 6 music is a great radio station please think again BBC.

  • Comment number 31.

    I am struggling to put into words how passionate I feel about this issue. Closing 6Music is the biggest act of cultural vandalism I have ever witnessed. The resources it consumes compared to the wealth of its output should make it untouchable.

    6 Music is a perfect example of what the BBC is for – it is providing an outlet for music that will not be heard on the commercial channels, and it serves to educate and enlighten the listener. I learn more from 6 Music than I do from any other channel, bar Radio 4 (But I wouldn’t turn to radio 4 to find the latest underground music artists of course!)

    The proposal is not just that a BBC digital station is closed but that a whole community of music-loving listeners is destroyed and its people dispersed. 6 Music is so much more than just a radio station. The Adam and Joe show, for example, has had a profound effect on its audience, to an extent where it has influenced the society of festivals and gigs across Europe. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_and_Joe_%28radio_show%29 6 Music listeners are a tribe, and if you remove the one thing that defines them you will be destroying the identity of a whole subculture, the subculture that expands and progresses the English alternative music genre which is internationally renowned.

    Commercial radio stations will not satisfy the needs of this audience. The only near-feasible alternative to 6music is XFM, and this has clearly demonstrated that due to its commercial nature that it cannot cater for the intelligent music lover. It plays the latest major-label artists around the clock to satisfy the might of the music industry. 6Music is the only station that can allow its DJs a large amount of independence, and we LOVE you for it. We will not move to commercial stations, we will simply turn off.

    I am a firm proponent of the license fee but am so outraged by this proposal that I am prepared to withhold it if the station is cut, and I will encourage others to the same. Judging by the level of anger felt among my friends and family, I am sure I will not be the only one willing to take this action.

  • Comment number 32.

    This is so short-sighted. The BBC should be dedicated to nurturing homegrown talent and supporting our creative industries and culture. Getting rid of 6 Music is a huge mistake. I resent that our Licence fee is used for mainstream stations like Radio 1 that are exploited by the music industry for free advertising for their music. Where will up and coming musicians get a chance now? Disgusting.

    Incidentally, will you be offering a refund for anyone who has bought a DAB radio as 6 Music is the only reason to own one? Stopping 6 Music calls the whole digital radio platform into question.

  • Comment number 33.

    Mark, I don't expect for a minute that you've listened to 6 Music or indeed the Asian Network for any length of time, and nor does it seem that anyone else involved with this decision has. To cut those stations in order to 'provide quality programming' is a massive contradiction in terms. If the BBC is unwilling to continue to provide programming that commercial networks can not and will not, while attempting to compete with those networks, it will lose the argument for being a publicly financed service.

  • Comment number 34.

    Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder - or (in the BBC's case) the viewer and listener. Everyone has their personnel favourite part of the BBC and its services and, as a management team, I can empathise that the BBC has a difficult act to follow in pitching the BBC at the right point in the spectrum.

    And yet - as many commentators have said, cancelling 6 Music goes against the notion of providing quality and diversity, providing a service that the commercial sector does not. Yep I am a fan but the critique behind the decision does not stand up.

    If you were to apply the quality yardstick against other stations, then I think there may be a stronger resonance: yes BBC3 has had some successes but a lot of its output reaches for its target audience with the lowest common denominator. Radio 1 provides a service that competes directly with the commercial radio sector. And so on.

    I fear that this is a pre-election pre-emptive strike which has little to do with what the BBC should be doing, but rather about appeasing the strong commercial interests and tory MP's circling the BBC.

    No doubt on the news tonight their will be pictures of Mark Thompson at the top of some aeroplane steps, waving a piece of paper to the adoring crowds.

  • Comment number 35.

    How dare you waste licence payers' money on lowbrow tosh like (see any comment above) and propose to axe 6Music, which is the only worthwhile station of its kind?

    Axing 6Music will save about £6-7 million a year, which is a tiny fraction of the amount wasted on screening major sporting events like the Olympics. "original, UK content" was not to be found in Vancouver, nor will it be at the World Cup, or even at London 2012. It will be found on a daily basis at 6Music, which would be cheap at twice the price.

    The whole exercise is a shameless genuflexion before your new masters, David Cameron and his buddies the Murdochs. Show some guts, and stick up for the things the BBC does so well. Or resign!

  • Comment number 36.

    The proposed closure of 6Music is utter madness, and in my opinion, goes against everything the BBC *should* stand for. For me, 6Music offers something different that I can't get anywhere else. I have no interest in listening to Radio 1, for the same reason that I have no interest in watching ITV. It doesn't offer anything that appeals to me. Having said that, I do not consider 6Music to be a 'niche' station. I see it as part of the BBC arsenal and fills it an important gap, in the same way the Radio 3 is important to fans of classical music and Radio 4 is important to news junkies.

  • Comment number 37.

    'Putting quality first' - by closing 6Music while keeping BBC3 ('Hotter than my daugher', 'Young butcher of the year', 'Coming of age')??????? Thomson's definition of quality is clearly nothing like mine.

    6Music, BBC4 and Radio 4 are the only consistently good parts of the BBC these days (in my opinion). If Thomson can't see the parallels between these arms of his broadcasting empire then he's dumber than he sounds. which seems unlikely, frankly.

  • Comment number 38.

    Not really familiar with 6 Music as too busy looking at and enjoying all the rest of the stuff the BBC does so well. A great dissapointment that the BBC should eventually find it necessary to respond to its critics by agreeing with what they say and obliging. It's one of the things that we still do so well on a world scale and for we which we are appreciated globally. I'm dumbfounded that we should be scaling it back at a time when the BBC is enjoying its pre-eminent position. I've given up on our politicians having any influence on the world stage now we've decided that the BBC are doing so well we have to clip its wings - for shame

  • Comment number 39.

    I'll shut my gob up if I can have a say in the lighting of Newsnight particularly when Kirsty is presenting. Its not fare to those of age - that kind of lighting.

    Sorry but the game will soon be up and the bloggers will take over.

    tom in mark
    my son with
    a left over p
    and out

  • Comment number 40.

    You have to ask how axing Jarvis Cocker, Lauren Laverne, Steve Lamacq, Guy Garvey, Adam & Joe, Richard Herring, Marc Riley, Craig Charles etc etc etc (I could go on), who are all on 6Music, and keeping the likes of Steve Wright and Vernon Kay, on Radios 1 and 2 respectively, can in any way possibly be described as "putting quality first"?!

    If it wasn't such a depressingly real prospect, it would be laughable. I find it utterly unbelievable, as do my friends who all listen to 6Music, and question how this can be done under the guise of "public servie broadcasting".

  • Comment number 41.

    This is a shameful decision, and a ridiculous contradiction in terms to cut one of the BBC's most intelligent, eclectic and innovative radio stations in order to deliver higher quality programming!

    I am a passionate supporter of public service broadcasting, but Thompson, you've just destroyed my trust in the BBC and I am disappointed beyond belief. How you can have taken this short-sighted and narrow-minded decision is incomprehensible. I hope the BBC Trust will reconsider this disgraceful idea. A nail in the coffin of good (more than good! - outstanding!) quality radio broadcasting indeed.

  • Comment number 42.

    I find it beyond belief that the Trust have chosen to close 6 Music and the Asian Network. The content on these stations is exactly what the BBC is in place to produce - diverse and innovative music - in programmes that would just not fit in anywhere else. As I suspected, Mark Thompson and the BBC Trust are completely out of touch with what educated, enlightened people actually want. There certainly appears to be no hope for new music and new artists.

    At least Mark Thompson is being consistent, there's a complete lack of quality new drama and comedy on the BBC at the moment. Is this really what Thompson and his Management cohorts want to be remembered for?

  • Comment number 43.

    Is the BBC trying to alienate the 20 and 30 year old some-things with its policy of marginalising content to them by axing BBC 6 Music?
    This is an incredibly bad move making the license fee seem even more of a tax than ever.
    Contrary to what the media reports are saying the BBC 6 music service offers a massively different service to anything the commercial radio stations are offering.
    The majority of commercial local radio stations seem only brave enough to play the usually un-creative written R&B and pop.
    This seems very similar to what is on offer on Radio 1!

    This is an extremely important radio station and the BBC risks seriously damaging its reputation with it present listeners.
    I fully disagree with the proposal to axe BBC 6 music and I hope the BBC trust can turn the decision.

  • Comment number 44.

    I have completed the strategy review survey, and the very fact that it refers to Radios 1, 2 and 6 Music as 'pop' plainly indicates that the authors of this iconoclasm have no idea of what is being broadcast and how important it is to the cultural development of this country.

    6 music cannot be duplicated commercially - if it were to be taken over by Absolute for example it would only be a matter of time before its very heart and soul would be ripped out by a computerised formulaic playlist.

    It is the very reason we need(ed) the BBC.

  • Comment number 45.

    It would be pointless to repeat reasons why 6music should not be axed. Music executives; artists; MPs; the press and public have provided them in abundance. But I would like to add my own complaint to the growing flood because of the apparent rationale behind the decision.
    It stinks of hypocrisy. To claim that 6music should be removed in the name of focusing on quality rather than quantity is a terrible self-contradiction. The station is a beacon of quality - a place where new acts can find space on the airwaves and an excellent escape from commercial radio for people in my demographic (I am 27). I will not be catered for by an expansion of Radio 2, I do not want to sit through hours of advertising and trite music every day, and I am convinced that the quality of the BBC's radio broadcasting will diminish once 6music is axed. So, I am frankly disgusted by the notion that this move is made with the purpose of improving the BBC's public service.
    Furthermore, I am also appalled by the idea that listeners in my age bracket should be made fair game for commercial radio stations, as if we could be used as bargaining chips to appease the BBC's competition. I am not alone in loathing commercial radio, and will not dumbly decide to listen to an alternative station because BBC executives have decided that their rivals' advertising revenues need a boost.
    There'll just be less of the BBC in my life, which saddens me.

  • Comment number 46.

    "The BBC has one mission: to inform, educate and entertain audiences with programmes and services of high quality, originality and value"...

    so that's why out licence fees are paying for 'hotter than my daughter' and six figure salaries whilst 6music, the best output of the entire corporation, is being shelved. intellectually and morally disgusted (although I don't live in Tunbridge Wells)

  • Comment number 47.

    I guess this is just the latest in the BBC's slow walk to the gallows. Sadly, it's playing into others' hands - not least the big man in the Sky.

    If the BBC wants to know what it needs to do, its aim should be "excellence in whatever we do", to set a standard that the commercial sector and the rest of the world envy. Hold on - isn't that the BBC I grew up with?

    I am opposed to the axing of the two digital radio stations - not as an active listener to them but because they perform a positive and worthwhile function to a good number of people IN SPITE of only being available digitally.

    I'm also opposed to the cutting back of (good) BBC web content.

    "As a licence payer" (as the saying goes), I feel the real value I get is from BBC Radio and from the BBC's online content. I have long lost faith with BBC TV - I look forward to evenings when their isn't a load of quality programmes [sorry - left out the word poor] to watch.

    This latest apologetic announcement has got me so exasperated, I even registered to comment on this Blog. That bad!

    I wonder if the Beeb would be falling on its sword in the same way if we weren't in a recession and the commercial broadcasters weren't short of advertising money... Cynic? Moi?

  • Comment number 48.

    I didn't even know BBC 6 music existed, so I cannot say its closure worries me. But I can understand the views of those who had come to like it.

    On the other hand, I'm very concerned by the cut backs in the BBC web site. Especially if it affects the BBC News web site. I use this frequently, and I know many others who do the same. The plain fact is that there is no other decent UK-centric near-real-time news site, and with newspapers still in the naive view that they can build 'paywalls', no prospect of one.

    So if the BBC news web site is run down, I and many others will have no choice but to take our news from the US. Personally I'll probably go for CNN.com, but many will probably be driven even further into the grasp of Google or Murdoch (I'm not sure which is worse).

    This will actually be bad for competiveness. And it will push news gathering and dissemination further into the hands of (often) biased monopoly suppliers who have no real interest in the UK.

  • Comment number 49.

    What a load of utter tosh. I have no idea why Radio 6 has been targetted. It represents the epitome of the BBC's public service remit, and as has been pointed out elsewhere, could be run for the amount spent of Chris Moyles' salary alone. What is the motivation for this? The whole thing strikes me as sinister.

  • Comment number 50.

    "Our loyalty and prime responsibility will always be to our audiences"

    I suggest you listen to the reaction of your announcement to close 6 Music. It would suggest your audience wishes 6 Music to remain on air, would you not agree?

    It appears your vision is not shared with that of the license paying public, the people that the BBC would not exist without.

    6 Music has contributed more in it's short life than BBC3 ever will. Quite frankly the BBC should be ashamed of the rubbish churned out on that channel. If your aim is create a generation of imbeciles then I fear you are succeeding.

  • Comment number 51.

    In cutting 6music from the schedule I fear you're taking an axe to exactly the type of content you profess to want to protect and promote. The BBC is intended to provide a service to the public - and as such it strikes me that at its core, it should be able to see the value of 6music above and beyond the metric of listener numbers. It offers a platform to many bands, producers, and speaks to communities who are not catered for by other area of the BBC - people who contribute to the progression, rather than stagnation of music in the UK. You can't seriously be suggesting that BBC Three offers a greater quality of content than 6music, with such breathtakingly vacuous programming as 'Snog/Marry/Avoid' and let's not forget, the genuinely shocking Two Pints. Please reconsider! : )

  • Comment number 52.

    This makes my blood boil. With BBC6 you are providing a service which ISN'T OUT THERE AT THE MOMENT. Surely this falls squarely within the remit of the BBC. The loss of 6 Music is a loss of provision of Britain's alternative music entertainment and culture. If cutbacks are needed then what about the overblown strata of BBC middle and senior management? Oh no, rest assured they will keep their jobs and fat pay packets and the public will suffer. Shame on you.

  • Comment number 53.

    Mr Thompson,

    This post, this morning's Guardian piece and your statement on the BBC's Strategic Review are missing the point entirely.

    6music is the very definition of quality radio. It's original, groundbreaking and entertaining.

    There is no alternative on the airwaves. Commercial radio cannot and will not replace the legacy of this station, which is rooted in the trailblazing of John Peel. It won't be the same, and I for one will not be listening.

    If you think 6music listeners will gravitate towards Radio 1 and 2, you are very, very wrong. 2 is middle of the road. Boring, even. 1 is a cultural vacuum where mindless banter passes as entertainment and a limited, mass marketed playlist is its musical content.

    On both, any smidgen of cutting edge is relegated to the graveyard shift.

    You're tallking about making financial savings but 6music is a miniscule part of the corporation's budget.

    You're making a very fine radio station - frankly the only station worth listening to and the only reason I bought a DAB - the scapegoat in your need for change.

    I agree that the BBC needs to refocus. But I think the first thing you need to do is closely examine salaries. Yours. Your fellow executives. Chris Moyles.

    And what's happening to BBC3? Do you still plan to make 'Snog, Marry, Avoid' and other lowest common denominator shows that are a long, long way from being 'services of high quality, originality and value'.

    Do you REALLY send £4m on the Proms? Remind me how many staff you sent to the Winter Olympics and how much it cost... I love football, but I'd be interested in hearing how much of the BBC budget is going to South Africa 2010 too.

    Your arguments do not stack up. In your Guardian piece you unintentionally listed 16 reasons why 6music must be maintained by the BBC.

    Here's some more: Lauren Laverne, Shaun Keaveney, Steve Lamacq, Marc Riley, Gideon Coe, Liz Kershaw, Adam & Joe, Stuart Maconie and Jon Holmes. A stack of intelligent, knowledgable and entertaining presenters.

    You will note that I haven't mentioned George Lamb, a man surely more at home on Radio 1 for reasons contrary to the above para and closely aligned to my thoughts on that station further up.

    It took 4,000 people, most of whom had no idea what they were talking about to see Ross and Brand punished over 'Sachsgate'. Around 25,000 people, the vast majority of whom, I'm sure, know what they're talking have signed the Save 6 music petition accessible via [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] What does that say to you?
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 54.

    There seems to be some confusion at the top of the BBC about what the BBC is actually for. It exists for two reasons:

    1. To provide those public services which are not viable from a sponsored or commercial perspective;

    2. To deliver high quality output in order to set a benchmark for the rest (commercial side) of the industry and thereby encourage the rest of the industry to aspire to quality ideals.

    Wherever commercial or other private organisations have stepped in, and a quality market would exist without the BBC's presence, then the BBC must withdraw.

    6 music and asian network would both seem to fill a commercial void.

    Radio 1,2 and 5 don't! Nor do most local radio stations (BBC Scotland excepted).

    The BBC was essential to the launch of television, and it's early decades. It has served it's original purpose - and must now redefine itself for the multi-channel era. No more competing (with my money) against perfectly good commercial parties.

  • Comment number 55.

    And another thing. One of the posters on this comment board drew my attention to a recent BBC budget chart made by the Guardian. According to that chart, it seems that four of the top earners in the 'talent' budget combined took 5.5m more than all of 6music. Clarkson alone gets nearly a quarter of the amount alloted to the radio station. This fact is depressing enough without the proposed closure of my favourite radio station. With it, I'm all the more repulsed by the appalling, hypocrital nonsense in this blog.

  • Comment number 56.

    Thompson, my comment is simple. KEEP 6 MUSIC. If this goes, so does my licence fee.

  • Comment number 57.

    You can't say the BBC needs to be committed to New Music when you want to close 6 Music. You can't have everything diverted to Radio 2, as there is no room too do this. Removing Asian Network how will you be able to deliver to those communties. The BBC needs to start saving money on trying not to impress others.

  • Comment number 58.

    The above posts will not be read by Mark Thompson, The BBC Trust, or anyone with influence. The decision has already been made. Thanks for giving us the chance to alter the decision BBC. Oh, wait...

  • Comment number 59.

    20: "To me, BBCs DAB project is now a failure. May as well listen to FM Radio. Slightly less quality, but at least it doesn't make Chris Evans or Chris Moyles sound like a Dalek when you're under trees or in a valley."

    Actually FM is _better_ quality than DAB for the majority of stations. This is because DAB was an outdated standard from the start, it uses mp2 encoding which needs 160kpbs to be comparable to FM quality, 192kbps minimum to attempt a claim at CD quality.

    Most DAB stations however transmit at 128kbps which sounds noticeably compressed to many people when through a half decent audio system (or just nearly any headphones), these include most BBC stations including 6 music. Only a few stations at all transmit any higher such as BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM, both at 160kbps.

    The DAB standard unfortunately made it a bit of a failure before it even began and most DAB radios will not handle DAB+ (which uses AAC and therefore is actually decent) which holds back replacement of DAB with DAB+ as everyone who got DAB radios believing the blatant lies about superior quality to FM will have to get new radios again.

  • Comment number 60.

    6 Music is the epitome of what public service broadcasting is about. Passionate, intelligent & informed. It has no rival or equal. I am disgusted and devastated.

  • Comment number 61.

    I despair. I really do. What on earth is the BBC for if not to bring the audience quality material that is not provided by commercial alternatives? How on earth is the BBC to inspire knowledge, music and culture without 6 Music. It is an essential part of not only the BBC but British broadcasting more generally. How can it possibly be justified to cut 6 Music but send reporters to South Africa to report on their preparation for the World Cup? Hmm I wonder who else is doing that? Did the film crew fancy a cheap holiday on the licence payer? Why pay excessive salaries to the so-called stars? Is Jeremy Paxman really worth a million pounds a year? And you Mark Thompson have ably demonstrated that you are not worth whatever it is that you are paid (I deliberately did not say earn). Are you afraid they will leave and go somewhere else? Don't be. Let them go. They will not have half the career outside the BBC and you can promote new talent. Not necessarily young talent, but new, fresh talent Can you hear that sound Mark Thompson? It's John Peel turning in his grave. You have no soul and you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself. You have the opportunity to put things right and I urge you to take it before it is too late.

  • Comment number 62.

    The idea of cutting 6 Music and the Asian Network seems frankly ludicrous - the amount saved will make very little progress into achieving the targets that you have imposed, while also taking away two valuable resources that seem to be grossly under-appreciated at the head of your gravy train.

    I'm often in favour of the BBC but I won't back you up here. Or is it simply cutting the smaller parts to satisfy the masses? Why did you send a plethora of journalists out to Vancouver when Eurosport managed high quality coverage without feeling the need to interject opinions all the time.

    And why is so much being spent on ferrying pundits from all over the country to take part in Match of the Day. Certain individuals bring little to the programme, let alone revealing it costs the license fee payer a four-figure sum for the pleasure.

    You could also do a lot worse than to scrap the entire BBC TV news output and replace it with Charlie Brooker's Newswipe. Think how much you could save there... he's a lot more on the ball than current editorial policies too.

  • Comment number 63.

    In 6Music the BBC have created something that is both wonderful and unique. It is the epitome of what the BBC stands for, and does, best - quality, intelligent broadcasting. The marriage of the ideals of Lord Reith and John Peel.

    To kill it off just to appease those who wish to destroy the BBC is utter madness

    The BBC must listen to the reaction to these proposals, keep 6Music, keep the Asian network and keep up the quality end of it's broadcasting

  • Comment number 64.

    Shocked, gutted, saddened, angry - all sorts of reactions to this news. Can't quite believe that something as distinctive as 6 Music is getting axed. I'd go as far as saying it is BY FAR the best radio listening experience in the UK - intelligent (when need be), very funny (frequently) & always championing new music as well as a whole range of classics from the past.
    You just don't get that mix anywhere else & immediate reaction is that Mark Thompson puts listening figures before quality - 'dumbing down' to use a naff phrase.
    700,000 listeners for a relatively new digital service can't be that bad & surely it would keep growing if given the chance?

  • Comment number 65.

    I have to agree that losing 6Music (which I listen to on a semi-regular basis) whilst keeping BBC 3 (which nobody likes and is of no cultural value at all) seems incongruous, especially in light of this supposed re-focus on "quality". If BBC 3 was popular, and it was just people like me who didn't like it, that would be more understandable, but seriously, it's just lame comedies (about 5% of which eventually get promoted to BBC 1 or 2) and the sort of "reality" crap you find on Five or Sky 1.

    I don't think getting rid of R1 is the answer either, but I do think that maybe R1 could lose the mega-mainstream pop (eg the Saturdays, JLS etc) that takes up a lot of the daytime schedule and which gets played on commercial radio as well. It could instead adopt some of 6Music's phiolophy in its daytime schedule (in other words, lose the current sharp distinction between R1's daytime and evening schedules, albeit perhaps still focus on specialist genres at night). Thus, R1 would be something in between what it and 6Music are at the moment.

    Then again, this might end up trying to please everyone and succeeding with none. But it would certainly be better than losing 6Music altogether.

  • Comment number 66.

    Mark - most of what I feel about your plans about canning R6 have already been expressed above; but to summarise: I can't understand how you and your mmanagement can square the goal of quality and excellent public service broadcasting "which audiences would never enjoy if the BBC did not exist" with planning to shut down one of the radio stations (R6) that has far more quality and originality about it than all of the other contemporary music offerings on the Beeb or anywhere in the commercial medium put together. Please don't think that the mediocre offering on R2 or anywhere in the local BBC radio could replace this. If you really are wanting to continue to invest in excellence - do so: in R6. Re: the plans for the BBC web offering, I will have to read the more detailed plans and comment later in greater depth; for the moment suffice to say BBC News is my 'home page' - it offers what I regard as unbiased top-line and in depth coverage of almost everything I ever wanted to know about, and I receive this as part of my pact with the Beeb: I pay the licence fee and you are delivering what I want.I don't regard the whinging from the sidelines about not being able to make money from on-line news (Murdoch) as a valid argument; I can understand they want to make money, but as far as I can see the whinging about free provision of news is one tactic in an overall strategy that is effectively a 'land grab'. If the Beeb ceases to provide it for free, they can charge for their on-line content, and plaster advertising all over it. No thanks - that's not how I want my news. Don't allow them to 'put tanks on your lawn'!

  • Comment number 67.

    From the Guardian:


    Of the decision to close 6 Music, Thompson said: "Even to propose the closure of BBC services is a very big and in some ways painful step. There's lots of great content on BBC 6 Music and some real talent."

    But he said the station was "expensive ... given its relatively small audience".

    He said a broader range of music would be broadcast on Radio 2 under the proposals, in which there were "big changes afoot".

    "Radio 2 is an extremely popular radio service... but we think that there's a real case for Radio 2 really taking a further step towards distinctiveness and [giving it] a clear distance with what you can find on commercial radio," said Thompson.

    The station should continue to serve older listeners and should not suffer from "age creep" towards a younger audience, he added."


    Radio 2 can take the place of 6 but should not 'age creep'? So anyone under 50 who can't deal with Radio 1 should go where?

    Completely contradictive. (Though it doesn't suprise me if you are willing to pay £200m for an F1 season which the free to air commercial stations would have picked up - against £5m a year for 6?????)

  • Comment number 68.

    Dear Mr.Thompson,

    I understand that you are under pressure to reduce the size of your corporation and have to make cuts somewhere but I would ask you not to cut the very area's that meet your 'Putting quality first' strategy, namely 6Music.

    My proposal for what it's worth is to restructure your TV output and go down to three channels, I don't believe the BBC has enough good quality output to justify four separate channels and it would not be difficult to look through the listings each night and prune out a channels worth of low quality content.

  • Comment number 69.

    "Putting quality first" is a big big insult to all the very dedicated & talented people working for 6 music, let alone the quality of the artists it features, & its output in general.

    What a joke, 6 music is quite possibly one of the best music stations in the world, & it is cut in order to improve quality.

    Spending more money on bbc1 has nothing to do with quality of beeb output, it shows where the bbc prioriries really lie - lowest common denominator or ratings chasing, not that different from the big name commericial stations really.

    I'm not only gutted but very angry.

  • Comment number 70.

    Oh dear, Mark, you really have slipped into the dark side, because you clearly can't see the wood for the trees. 6 Music provides a service that no commercial station outside of a small station in London gets near to in that it specialises in adult and niche music. I can't think of any other station in the world that would do something like Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone at what is pretty much radio prime tme.

    Likewise, the only attempt at a nation commercial Asian station fell at the first hurdle due to lack of prople willing to finance it.

    Local radio is one of the cornerstones of the BBC's output because independent local radio as conglomerated to the point where it is no longer truly local. Trying to change this seems to be change for changes sake.

    BBC Switch is the only thing on the list that truly could go without any effect, whereas Blast need to be investigated as it falls into the BBC remit for education.

    If there's anything that really could go, it's that which is not on the list - Radio 1 and 1Xtra, both of which are fully covered by the commercial sector to the point of being totally redundant.

    So, try growing a backbone and stop running scared of the politicians and naysayers who are more interested on propping up a commercial sector that is failing from lack of creativity, rather than bending over backwards to accommodate them. After all, the last time this happened BBCi/Ceefax was cut back and Teletext still defaulted on its PSB licence, which goes to prove that there are some things that the BBC really is better off doing.

  • Comment number 71.

    I am a huge fan of the BBC and the things I do like offer great value for money for my licence fee. They include
    • Radio 4 (mainly Today and the comedy)
    • BBC4 (whole host of programmes)
    • BBC 6music
    • Doctor Who
    • 5live (live sport and Fighting Talk only, the news phone-in format is just awful. If I wanted the opinion of an idiot I would go down the local or ring my friend Martin)

    There list of what I don't like is much longer and includes
    • Radio 1
    • Radio 3
    • Most mainstream BBC1 programmes
    • BBC3
    • Jeremy Clarkson
    • Soap operas
    • Reality TV
    • Housing programmes
    • Actually, I was ill the other week and must add anything on daytime TV to the sh*t list
    • The BBC's failure to stand up to the Mail and Express and allowing them the moral high ground and to be the defenders of people who hadn’t even heard the Ross/Brand podcast. The Mail is pure hatred and the Express dude’s other publications are ropey porn

    However, I accept that it’s the role of the BBC to try and be all things to all people (my last point not withstanding) and I do not see why the BBC should be embarrassed to do that. I do not see why the BBC should pull resources away from its website because it’s so much better than everyone else’s (despite the rubbish search options).

    I do not see why the BBC should apologise for an innovative digital music station that is very different to anything out there (and the two other pop music stations it currently has). And I really do not understand why that station will be pulled before the digital switchover is complete and more people can enjoy it.

    If Ed Vaizey is to be believed, people become instant fans of BBC 6music. Although there’s a possibility that he is a shameless bandwagon jumper and an arse.

  • Comment number 72.

    Mark, please could you let me know which commercial station i'll be able to listen to a 5 part documentary about the bristol sound or perhaps the full twelve minutes of dj hell - the angst (Parts 1 and 2)...no didn't think you could...

    you've identified a need, served it well, nurtured it and then decided to take it away for reasons beyond my comprehension. you did have happy, well served customers - through you're lack of understanding of your audiences, you have destroyed all of your good work.

  • Comment number 73.

    Can Mark 'No Soul' Thompson explain how he matches his stated ambition "My ambition is for us to become more confident and proud of the fact that we exist to be different" with the fact that there is no commercial alternative to 6 Music. Surely the BBC will only be different by keeping 6 Music. I have an idea for a new television show. Job Swop. I do his job for a week while he does mine. I wouldn't charge a fee. Actually I would not trust him to do my job given what a poor effort he is making in his so I would do mine as well while he goes and has the lie down he clearly needs.

  • Comment number 74.

    I can't believe Thompson said 6 music has very few unique listeners. The station was set up to play unique music for people who didn't like the same old play list.

    Radio 1 is being exactly the same as the commercial radio channels and I won't be swapping for radio 1, 2 or any other sell off station.

    Completely without principles he just wants to appeal to the comfortable majority and the spin off in the US. It is an appalling decision based on political considerations and excused by artistic ones.

    If it goes through he can count himself as the least like Director General in history and a confirmation of the BBC as a safe boring corporate business.

  • Comment number 75.

    Here are some comments made by Greg Dyke in the Telegraph today:
    "On air, it's (The BBC) in pretty good shape but it's a bit short of friends," Mr Dyke told The Guardian. "It didn't manage [Jonathan] Ross and [Russell] Brand very well. It doesn't have to pay its director general £800,000.
    "It is a good job, and Mark [Thompson] earns more than twice what I earned when I was doing it. The staff are whingeing. Mark is doing some great things, but he is not taking them with him."
    Closing 6 Music isn't a 'great thing'. If the BBC wish to save some cash that is apparently being wasted then I know where they can save at least £800K/year.

  • Comment number 76.

    The closure of 6 music is a shortsighted decision which will save very little money but deprive many new artists of much needed exposure and deprive hundreds of thousands of people of a much loved radio station.

  • Comment number 77.

    It is difficult to overstate the importance of this station to those of us who listen and impossible to believe that, given better promotion, we would not be joined by thousands more. For many, many people who fall between the two stools of Radios 1 and 2, either culturally or simply by age, 6 Music has grown to fill a huge gap in our lives. There is simply nothing out there which offers the vibrant mix of musical and presenting styles, backed up by an eclectic range of music which through any given day with be both old and new, lauded and unheralded. This could not be replaced by a commercial outfit, with the associated pressures they would face; the competition is a million miles away from being even a plausible listening alternative.

    6 Music's has made a huge contribution to me staying in touch with modern British music in my 'post Radio 1 years'. It has helped me to feel a part of British society, which is increasingly in thrall to youth. I am 34.

    I demand better of the Director General than he has offered today. TV is NOT king, keep 6Music.

  • Comment number 78.

    I also like to add it is about time every personal decides where their licence fee goes to and the government pay for the ones they want to continue. Most of mine would go to 6 music.

  • Comment number 79.

    You obviously don't have a clue about popular music neither do you care for it.

    The average age of R1 listeners is 33. The terms of the station's service licence remit state It should reflect the lives and interests of 15–29 year olds

    Radio 2 is consistently failing to cater for the needs of older listeners over 65

    You now wish to abolish 6 music and think that Radio 1 and 2 can incorporate their listeners.

    You cannot be allowed to succeed 30 comments so far all bar one against your proposals. The words head in the clouds and siege mentality spring to mind

  • Comment number 80.

    Mr Thompson,

    I set you a simple challenge.

    Listen to a full days output of 6Music.

    Then listen to a full days output of commercial radio.

    At least have some idea what you are talking about.


    You wouldn't know, but this is the catchphrase of a popular 6Music evening DJ when playing two completely opposed music tracks. That is to say the sort of music you wouldn't hear anywhere else on the radio, let alone set against each other.

    By the way, if this is all just a sick joke and an advertising campaign for 6Music you are a genius, and I salute you.

  • Comment number 81.

    I think the announcement made this morning was frankly pitiful. How does the decision to axe 6Music square with the aspiration to inspire 'knowledge, music and culture'? It is hidden away on DAB (now that's a true BBC failure) and has not enough listeners; on the other it is a threat to commercial rivals if it grows. How can that make sense? It is a fantastic station and today's decision is an insult to the memory of John Peel.

    The remit announced is great but faulty. Why have a 24hr News channel which is an exact duplicate of Sky and covers exactly the same stories picture for picture and axe a station delivering original programming? This is a sad day for the BBC and it is time to hand over the reins of the BBC to someone who can provide a more compelling vision

  • Comment number 82.

    The decision to close 6music is surely at odds with the statement that you are going to support quality programming. It has 700,000 dedicated listeners, and this is remarkable given that it only exists on the internet or DAB. Quality programming such as exists on 6music needs to be promoted, not shut down.

  • Comment number 83.

    6 Music is a quality radio station. Since I started listening in 2005 it has informed me about music, educated me about music and entertained me. It is the soundtrack to my day, nothing can replace it. Trying to merge it with radio2 will water-down it's unfettered spirit. If you want to scale back the bbc, look at cutting back the low quality output on bbc3.

  • Comment number 84.

    Although there are many things on the station I do not enjoy, such as the inane Adam and Joe, it is the only place that I can regularly hear music that doesn't make me want to rip my ears off.

    6 Music has a clear demographic that is not served by any other station, commercial or otherwise.

    The reason I bought a digital radio was so I could listen to BBC 6 music and now that you are proposing to close it. I feel I have wasted my money.

    Perhaps you could reinstate the radio only license fee? I would be happy to pay as long as you kept 6 Music.

  • Comment number 85.

    Chopping 6music is a disgusting and ignorant decision. Radio 1 and 2 compete directly with commercial radio, but 6music is the ONLY station that broadcasts to real music fans.

    I will pay my next licence fee begrudgingly, and who knows if I'll bother at all after that.

    6music is the best thing the BBC has ever done, and the spirit of John Peel flows through the veins of the presenters.

  • Comment number 86.

    The proposals in relation to 6 Music all talk in terms of "pop" music output.

    This just suggests that the Director-General does not understand the nature of 6 Music and why it serves such a unique purpose, why it would not be replicated by commercial radio and why it is so popular amongst its audience - it doesn't play "pop" music!

  • Comment number 87.

    I just have to ask you – what are you thinking? I cannot for the life of me understand why you believe that shutting down the only national station, BBC or commercial, that actually promotes new and unsigned acts AND introduces an audience to alternative music that commercial stations simply will not play (nor Radio 1 or 2 for that matter) is a good idea. That supports a micro economy of small record labels, concert venues and specialist record shops. So far in three days since the announcement you have managed to alienate over 700,000 astute, educated listeners who have not, and never will have, an equivalent station in the commercial sector, the BPI, David Bowie, The Guardian, The Independent, The Times (which isn’t exactly pro-closure of this area of the BBC), Charlie Brooker, Chris Addison, the Glastonbury organisers, and foremost, you are destroying any hopes that the BBC ever understood the ‘alternative’ music scene or what John Peel represented. Even Mr Vaizey, who described the cuts as ‘sensible’ on Friday, has reversed his opinion over the weekend after listening to the station. You are, I’m afraid, becoming somewhat isolated in your position.

    I will agree 6Music is not perfect. There has been a depressing trend in the last couple of years to ‘dumb-down’ the station, during the day. You may well be aware of the George Lamb controversy. Too many mainstream major label singles are playlisted to irritation during the daytime, which might leave the casual observer to assume the station is rather similar to Absolute or XFM. But these problems are easily fixable. The station’s audience is growing exponentially, the BBC Trust are satisfied with the general direction of the station at the last review and it has a hugely loyal following. Much like Radio 3 in many respects – its nearest equivalent in the classic world and another station that could not possibly survive unchanged within the commercial sector.

    Neither Radio 1 or 2 will ever take up the range of shows 6Music can offer. Jarvis Cocker, Marc Riley, Gideon Coe, Craig Charles, Bruce Dickinson, Tom Robinson, Don Letts and potentially Cerys Matthews offer a range of left-field music simply unthinkable on mainstream stations. To lose this talent would be a national tragedy for music lovers.

    Now I have no clue to the ‘gameplan’ here. What was the reasoning? Did you think by threatening stations with perhaps the vocal adherents you could somehow divert attention from profligate waste in other areas of the Corporation? Or are you really planning a death of a thousand cuts by removing piece by piece the areas that really matter until you’re left with the stuff that ITV,C4,C5 or Murdoch could do just as well – at which point the licence fee becomes untenable. Presumably under this logic your next target will be BBC4.

    You persist in the fiction that it is worth spending ten times 6Music’s budget to maintain BBC3, a station whose only output of note in the last two years appears to be Being Human, and consists otherwise of Eastenders repeats, Doctor Who repeats, cheap imports, and the towering cultural icons that are ‘Hotter Than My Daughter’ and ‘Snog, Marry, Avoid’. A station that makes Sky One look like a beacon of cultural endeavour, with nothing of note that could not be broadcast on BBC1 or BBC2 instead. Which has the lowest by far approval rating of any BBC TV channel. Whose annual budget could support 6Music for a decade or more. Words fail me.

    I have long defended the BBC. No longer.

  • Comment number 88.

    I'd just like to add my voice to the many.

    I always thought the BBC was supposed to do that which the commercial channels cant or wont do.

    How does the closure of 6 music meet that criteria when Radio 1 and 2 survive intact. Much of the daytime output of the latter two stations is the same as can be found on commercial radio.

    There is no equivelant to 6 music.

  • Comment number 89.

    If the BBC remit is inspiring knowledge, music and culture, then the decision to axe BBC 6Music is fatal. Since I am overseas, I can honestly tell you that 6 Music is the *first* place people here go to hear new music from the U.K. 6Music does an outstanding job at showcasing English music and culture abroad, and for a fraction of the cost of, say, BBC America, which most people I know don't watch.

    If the emphasis is to be on an "unswerving, unwavering, unflagging focus on quality" then I would truly love to know how Mr. Thompson thinks "Hotter Than My Daughter" qualifies as such. This notion is laughable. Axe THAT; save 6Music. 6Music is, as a presenter said, "heartland BBC", and is exactly the type of programming the BBC is *meant* to provide: intelligent exposure of new acts and great culture which CANNOT be provided by the commercial sector.

  • Comment number 90.

    If you had half if the passion for music/6music that the stations audience obviously has ,you would realise that 6music is the true jewel of BBC Radio's crown ! In fact 6music continues to shine brighter as all others dim ! Please consider the fact that the BBC is a public service broadcaster ,as such surely it is not too much to ask for one decent radio station . There is no alternative to 6music currently available ,that is why you are seeing such a passionate campaign to save 6music . Yours hopefully Stephen.J.Tilney

  • Comment number 91.

    Can I assume there will be a refund scheme for those of us who were tricked into buying a digital radio? With the death of 6 Music this might as well be a very expensive house-brick. Closing BBC 3 would provide the funds for such a scheme, if you believe it would otherwise be too expensive.

  • Comment number 92.

    "The BBC has one mission: to inform, educate and entertain audiences with programmes and services of high quality, originality and value."

    6 Music does this brilliantly bringing programming not found on any independent or other BBC station, this is why I willingly pay my licence fee, why axe it?

  • Comment number 93.

    One more thing... I bought my brother a DAB radio for Christmas simply so he could enjoy 6music like me.

    The BBC owes me £72 for that radio now.

  • Comment number 94.

    I can only echo the majority of comments above - I feel like I am clinging onto the last few pieces of driftwood of intellectual and informative programming in an ocean of populist low rent garbage that seems to surround us. I thank my lucky stars I have the BBC to provide me with BBC4 & Radio 4, as without these I am doomed to eternity to the broadcast equivalent to OK magazine.

    But canning Radio 6, a worthy and low budget musical accompanyment to Radio 4, is a travesty of justice. Eclectic, groundbreaking, nurturing, it provides a platform to the future of this country's amazing propensity to music. First TOTP, now 6 music. A Cowellesque future awaits us, and this decision is party to that.

    Be Brave, Mark, listen to the outrage, reverse this decision, and get 6Music on FM...



  • Comment number 95.

    Mark, there’s an anecdote David Attenborough has told about his period as controller of BBC2. Its Golden Age, so to speak, a time of Civilization, The Ascent of Man, Man Alive and Monty Python. When he was approached to commission The Old Grey Whistle Test he was unsure. He knew nothing about rock music. Not his area of expertise. But he trusted his friends, his acquaintances, the one’s who told him that it was exactly what serious popular music fans needed. That not all ‘pop’ music is three minute singles designed for discos or Top of The Pops.

    And he trusted their instincts. Correctly so, as it became an institution.

    Such a pity you do not have such experienced and trustworthy friends.

  • Comment number 96.

    Whilst we must all agree that the BBC has to change with the times and try to cut costs where possible, like any business it has to take the rough with smooth so to speak.

    What I don't agree,is why does the BBC have to pander to those who want to break it up, you can tell it an election year. The board of the BBC are worried about who will in number 10 on the 7th of May and what will they do with last peice of the Great British silverware that is left in the cabinet.(Break it Up or Sell it).

    Those poor directors at ITV, SKY and Channel 4,my heart goes out to them when they dont make a profit, like all businesses they should work harder so that your shareholders can skim off the profits. If you make a loss then that your problem.

    The BBC has a fantastic a world class boradcaster and programme maker. It would be a crime to sell off BBC Worldwide,as this make you a huge contribution.

    BBC6 music is a great platform and does what it says on the tin.

    Radio 7's programmes could be included on almost all of the radio network (National and Local). BBC3 & BBC4 should merge into one enterainment channel.

    There are other ways on saving money BBC, I'd suggest you go back to drawing board and look at other ways of saving money. It would be a travisty if you break up the silverware now

  • Comment number 97.

    How on earth can you be 'putting quality first' when you are axing 6Music? It's the most loved and enjoyed station I know of, with the most passionate of audiences. It also helps to keep music alive, which considering the tiny £7m budget you spend on it is amazing value. The listening figure of nearly 700,000 is really impressive considering it's digital only and the BBC hardly promotes it at all. It has the most intelligent and knowledgeable DJs of any national station I've heard.

    Oh and I'm sure it won't cut much ice with you, but 6Music is the only station I listen to regularly. Nothing else comes anywhere close.

  • Comment number 98.

    The proposal to axe 6 Music is gutless, spineless, cultural vandalism - and also directly contradicts the management-speak gobbledegook on your blog Mr Thompson. You should be absolutely ashamed of yourself.

    And if it goes ahead, I'll be one of the many thousands cancelling the direct debit for my licence fee. See you in court...

  • Comment number 99.

    6 Music is a worthwhile investment and reaches an audience which is entitled to expect to be represented and catered for in return for the universal license fee.

    Perhaps though the continued support for DAB in its entirety is worth sacrificing as this appears to be a technology that was poorly delivered in the first place and now seems positively outdated .

    As for the carpers and critics of the BBC in general I can only recommend a week spent watching Italian TV, such an experience would soon muffle the complaints of many an arm chair critic.

    The Corporation enjoys immense support from its audience and it is disappointing and frustrating to watch it allow itself to be buffetted by the viscisitudes of politicians who may have a sound bite to fill or a powerful patron to mollify in formulating their particular contribution to the debate.

    The views and opinions of the viewer and listener ( and by this I mean the vast majority of people who do not blog , write in or telephoen Any Answers) appear conspicuously absent from these deliberations. A sterile and abstract review of what the BBC is 'for' is never going to reach a consensual conclusion that suits all. Perhaps though this is the secret of why the BBC is , as an institution and a peculiarly British institution such a success in that it is at the end of the day never going to be able to please all of the people all of the time or for that matter a minority of the people ever! All it ever seems to do is annoy and frustrate everyone all of the time which to me entirely justifies its continued existence at mine and everyone elses expense.

  • Comment number 100.

    I am usually quite able to express myself. However the notion that 6Music is to be shut down has rendered me speechless.

    6Music is an example of what the BBC does best, it is an example of what the BBC should be doing.

    The Director-General should be a leader. Mr. Thompson you are not leading. You are merely following ITV, Sky and the other commercial broadcasters. Please explain how programming like "Hotter Than My Daughter" and "Snog, Marry, Avoid" is unique, innovative or in any way consistent with 'quality'.

    Mr.Thompson, have you ever listened to 6Music ? Have you ? I don't think you have. In fact I'd go so far as to suggest you are so far disconnected from the listeners that your position is untenable.

    "Some critics will always say this is not enough and will never stop in trying to further erode the BBC - they will be disappointed by what we have announced today. Our loyalty and prime responsibility will always be to our audiences - we know they want a strong BBC, clear about its purpose and delivering services they love, value and can be proud of."

    No, no, no. You have completely missed the mark with this one. You have failed the listeners and you will no doubt have noticed the critics are saying something completely different.

    You have got it very badly wrong. Come to your senses and reverse this madness before you do untold damage to the BBC, the music industry and UK culture.


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