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The BBC Strategy Review & BBC Radio

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Tim Davie Tim Davie | 13:26 UK time, Thursday, 4 March 2010

There has been a huge amount of online discussion about the BBC's Strategy Review since Tuesday's announcement, much of it around the proposal to close 6 Music. I would like to explain the thinking behind this proposal and the plans for the Asian Network, but it's important to explain them in the context of the wider strategy.

BBC Radio is an essential part of the BBC's mission to inform, educate and entertain. The BBC's Strategy Review was borne out of the need to preserve this mission in a rapidly-changing digital environment, while recognising that the BBC needs to focus its efforts and investment.

So, while we have proposed a strategy based on our traditional principles of making high-quality programmes, we have also acknowledged that we need to do fewer things better.

In radio, we're proposing bold steps to strengthen and simplify our station line-up. I do not believe that offering the current range of nine stand-alone digital networks is the right way to serve audiences and ensure radio remains strong in a digital world. And, while digital radio has seen growth, my concern is that current development remains slow.

So we are proposing to reduce the number of stations and re-invest in our five core networks - Radios 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 live - and extensions of these services, such as 1Xtra and 5 live sports extra, while maintaining our overall investment in digital radio to use in a range of innovative ways to provide listeners with great digital content.

For example, Radio 7 would be developed through closer ties with Radio 4, culminating in the re-branding of the station as Radio 4 Extra. This will offer listeners the best of Radio 7 as well as offering new possibilities, such as extending existing Radio 4 favourites, newly commissioned programmes and more second runs of popular programmes.

But this strategy of focusing efforts on doing fewer things better also means difficult decisions. Clearly we didn't arrive lightly at the decision to recommend the closure of 6 Music: It is distinctive, much loved and I too am passionate about its output. But I believe the best way for us to provide that kind of programming is by looking at other ways to find it a bigger audience. Currently, only one in five adults have heard of it and less than one in 50 listens each week. Yes, we could invest heavily in marketing to try to address this, but my preference is to ensure that money is focussed on unique, high quality radio, not supporting a large number of services.

While we are re-focussing on fewer networks, we will consider how the range of music played on Radio 1, Radio 2 and Radio 3 should adjust to ensure we continue to offer a diverse spectrum of new and UK music as part of our stronger focus on originality and distinctiveness.

I also believe it is essential that, as we re-invest the money currently spent on 6 Music, we protect some of its precious programming by redeploying it elsewhere in BBC Radio and consider how we can also do justice to its legacy in areas like new music development.

The Asian Network has offered a distinctive national service to British Asian audiences since it moved onto a digital platform in 2002. But the increasing plurality and diversity of British Asian audiences are stretching the coherence and relevance of this service, its audience reach is in decline and its cost per listener is high. While the quality of much of its programming is very high, changes in its strategy have led to an inconsistent listening experience and the national station has been less successful at replicating the sense of community which was fundamental to the growth of the original local Asian service. So we have proposed closing the Asian Network as a national service and will be exploring a number of options for redeploying its investment, including replacing it with a network of part-time local services. We believe this would offer listeners a better service - Asian Networks where they're most relevant - closer to audiences and with a mixture of locally tailored and syndicated programmes.

I know that there is real sadness that we are losing valued services, but this is part of a strategy to ensure BBC Radio continues to be as relevant and popular as ever in the digital world.

I am confident that these proposals are the right way for us to deliver our mission, but it's also right that licence fee payers get to have their say. That's why the BBC Trust exists: to ensure you get a chance to input before final decisions are made.

Tim Davie is Director, BBC Audio & Music


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  • Comment number 1.

    Why can't 6 music be an extension of Radio 2 as 1 Extra is to Radio 1?

  • Comment number 2.

    If you feel it necessary to kill a radio service, 1Xtra would be fairly easy to integrate into Radio 1. 6 Music on the other hand is unique and appeals to a demographic that is not otherwise addressed, and now will not be addressed.

    *If* the BBC needs to cut back and "refocus", and I am not convinced that it should be bowing to political pressure by doing so, then it needs to focus on services which are not and would not be addressed by commercial competitors. 6 Music is exactly one such.

    The big benefit of the digital revolution is that it makes specialist programming all the more easy to do. In the old days each radio station tried to be all things to all listeners via time-division. Now you can set up a digital (DAB, Internet etc) station that can specialise 24/7 in one particular type of programming. Cutting these innovative services back represents turning back the clock.

    I am afraid I would like the BBC to re-grow the backbone it had before the Gilligan affair and stand up to political pressures. The BBC needs to be independent and run as a public service to its listeners. I, along with many many others, am happy to pay my licence fee to enjoy those services. I do NOT, however, feel so happy when I see the BBC bowing to the Murdochs of this world via their captive politicians eager for the fading moguls' support.

    In addition, voluntary cuts set a bad precedent. Just as allowing the licence fee to be skimmed for digital switchover set a bad precedent for the fee to be skimmed for other purposes in the future.

  • Comment number 3.


    Your arguments are superficially persuasive but my concern (as a 47yo Radio 2/4 and very occasional 6 Music listener) is the statement repeated throughout the consultation that the average 6 Music listener is 37 and that 30-50 year olds are well served by popular music services from the commercial sector. This is palpably untrue and even if it was, is not a replacement for 6 Music any more than Classic FM is a replacement for Radio 3.

    Combining this with a steer on Radio 2 to make it more appealing to the over 65s suggests once again (as happened in the 90s when Radio 1 went through its rebirth) that the BBC deserts the 30-50 yo age group.

    This sounds more like appeasing hostile politicians than standing up for the listener. Commercial radio in this country is hardly regulated; franchises and formats change overnight, and their public service obligation has been removed... most commercial radio provides narrow formatted playlisted radio. I'd love to see the innovation in commercial radio we saw in the first ILR stations of the 70s who really strove to serve their communities, but no more. And also remember we don't all live in London and the choice of listening is very variable, especially in rural areas.

    TV has PSB competition in Channel 4 and arguably some other commercial TV channels (Sky News, Sky Arts); BBC radio doesn't. The commercial sector needs to whinge less and step up more to deserve being handed a large part of the Beeb's audience!


  • Comment number 4.

    I just don't believe that you will manage to materially affect R1 and R2 to reflect the more eclectic tastes of the 6music audience. Personally, I use lastfm, Spotify, https://players.tv-radio.com/radiofrance/playerfip.php and various other sources to create a mix I am happy with. 6music went some way to fitting in, but not very far.

  • Comment number 5.

    So this seems to mean that 1 in 10 of adults in UK who have heard of it are regular listeners?
    If so - isn't that amazing for a service that is not available on FM?
    (little random discovery from twiddling the dial - and almost no in-car listening)

    Just a few weeks ago (15th Feb) the BBC Trust published the results of a review carried out last summer:
    "6 Music is well liked by its listeners, although these are relatively few in number. The review concluded that the challenge for 6 Music is to grow its audience without changing the aspects which currently set it apart from other radio stations."

    "The station must raise awareness and grow its audience."


    Isn't the cost per listener per hour substantially lower than Radio 3?

  • Comment number 6.

    Having never listened to 1Xtra, I can't comment on it's content - please could someone explain what it offers in support of radio 1?

    As I understand it, 1Xtra costs a great deal more per listener hour than 6music.

  • Comment number 7.

    This doesn't really answer any of the excellent points raised by licence fee payers in Mark Thompsons original blog but just regurgitates the outline in the original documents in all its glorious vagueness.

    How much does it cost to provide these pointless managerial pronouncements masquerading as interaction I wonder ? I think I've found the BBC another potential saving.

  • Comment number 8.

    The part of the issue that's being ignored here is that 6music listeners don't want to sometimes get this programming - late at night on Radio 1 or 2, but at normal times, when normal people listen to the radio.

    Per the review Radio 2 seems to move towards much more spoken word broadcasting. Unless radio 1 or 3 are going to dramatically change their outlook I fail to see where 6music's audience's needs are going to be met. Unless you're willing to infuriate either the current listners of those stations the transfer of 6music's playlist and musical outlook won't happen.

    You can't expect to placate the manuy licence fee payers who love a radio station with a few radio programmes. Nor can you expect licence fee payers to accept that you are "maintaining our overall investment in digital radio to use in a range of innovative ways to provide listeners with great digital content" if you persist with the position that 6 music should be cut.

  • Comment number 9.

    So further devaluation of the content of R1, 2 and 3 is promised. I suspect that further hacking of these networks is now on the cards. The first sign being the removal of 'Listen to the Band' on R2 has occurred. Quite simply 6music is unique and needs to be maintained. R2 has lost it's way badly with it's core audience with it's audience participation mania recently spread to Breakfast. I stopped listening to Vine specifically due to this.

    I love the BBC but it appears that the Corporation is surrendering to it's vociferous opponents far too easily.

  • Comment number 10.


    You must know you are on a losing battle trying to defend the closure of 6Music. The pressures growing from all sides of the fence. The only defenders of this policy are the most rabid free marketers – the I don’t listen so I don’t care brigade. So far Radiohead, David Bowie, Keane, the Glastonbury organisers, Florence & The Machine, the BPI and AIM representing the entire recording industry, Lily Allen, Michael Sheen, Martin Clunes, The Guardian, Independent, Telegraph, Sky Music, The Sun, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Will Young and others have added their voices to the rising tide that is telling you that this decision is absurd, wrong headed and potentially fatal for the BBC’s reputation. Oh, and 129,000 people of Facebook. How long will you stick your fingers in your ears?

    Mr Thompson’s figures simply do not add up. Where do you intend to redistribute all this wonderful talent and material? To Radio 1, whose demographic is squarely in the teenage celebrity obsessed chart pop fan under 25, and its inane DJs with about as much cultural insight into music as Paris Hilton. Or Radio 2, with it’s brief to appeal to more of an over fifty crowd, and which is already being told to make its daytime output to 50% speech. Where will all these fine shows fit. Clue – they won’t. I know it. You know it. Unless it’s 2AM on Tuesday morning, presumably.

    Commercial radio won’t take up the slack. If you know of a station that will play Martin Carthy, Captain Beefheart, Bobby Darin and Can, please let me know (all played last weekend). The problem with the argument is there is no clearly defined age, income or gender demographic for 6Music. A hard target for advertisers. They’re just alternative music fans (oh, and by the way, it’s not all ‘pop’ music as it consistently seems to be referred to, as if Lady Ga Ga, Ella Fitzgerald and Robert Wyatt are all the same thing). An audience that supports the small labels, the new artists, tiny venues and the local specialist record shops that the station consistently supports.

    You need to stand back, consider your position and retire gracefully from trying to justify this increasingly bizarre decision by Thompson. Condone this and yet maintain BBC3, yet witter on about improving quality. Have you no sense of reality? You could run 6Music for a decade on the channel apparently now best known for ‘Hotter Than My Daughter’.

    The best quote for this is ‘wanton cultural destruction’. On your less than adequate understanding of music genres, you might as well shut down Radio 3 because Classic FM does the same job – doesn’t it? Thompson is already being described as the potential destroyer of John Peel’s legacy. Don’t let him take you down with him.


  • Comment number 11.

    Completely and totally wrong.

    To use an internet expression : "Radio, You're doing it wrong"

    6Music meets more of the pillars in the strategy review than Radio1,2 and 3 combined.

    To contemplate closing this superb radio station is beyond belief.

    Come to your senses and lead. Don't follow ITV/Sky and all the commercial interests who WILL NOT REPLACE THE GAP LEFT BY 6MUSIC.

  • Comment number 12.

    You say you want to do ‘fewer things better’, quality over quantity, and ‘provide value for money’. 6Music is of the highest standard of programming that the BBC produces and at the fraction of the cost of other, more broader based, stations such as Radio 1, Radio 2 and Radio 3. How can you say that this does not fit with what the BBC stands for and what your goals are from this review?

    The influence of 6Music is far more than just the number of listeners it has. These are very active listeners who shout out loud about their passion for music and have a large influence on the music in this country. How many artists got their first airplay on 6Music and due to the support of the 6Music listenership have since gone on to become big hits elsewhere. It’s this grassroots approach that 6Music takes that makes it so distinct. Only 6Music can provide this platform. Can you say that the listeners of Radio 1 2 & 3 are as articulate and passionate about their music? I doubt it very much.

    If you want to put 6Music in the context of the ‘Bigger Picture’ then I’m sure we could have a much bigger debate on where else we could save a bit more money. I could mention no less than a handful people’s salaries that would easily cover the running of 6Music and would not be a huge loss to the quality of it’s broadcasting and may even help to improve it.

    6Music is the only station that truly puts music first and closing it down would have a huge impact on creative and innovative music in this country. It makes no sense to close this station when it is improving year on year and is developing such a hugely passionate listenership. This is quality broadcasting at it’s best and in my opinion the BBC should be developing more services like this, not closing them down.

    6Music is a totally unique service that can only exist on the BBC and that commercial outlets do not, can not and will not produce. There is no alternative to 6Music and watering it down into the other Radio stations is as affective as just killing it dead!

  • Comment number 13.

    "I often hear the record industry crying out for more platforms for exposure – listen to digital radio. Listen to 6 Music and embrace it. It is a radio station which carries around 18 hours of live music a week; 61% of its live music is made up of British acts with 83% being newly signed acts. It is a vibrant radio station.

    And it has a small but growing listener base. It has an audience of true music lovers. They are disproportionately likely to buy albums – to go to concerts." Lesley Douglas, Speech given to the Music Radio Conference - 9 April 2003

    Our own experience as ex live music promoters and speaking yesterday to Liz Hunt Loose Promotions in Cardiff has been that a daytime airplay by 6 Music of an unsigned act that we had playing that week would double our audience attendances. These are bands that are receiving no coverage anywhere elsewhere, especially not by a safe and scared commercial sector that follows rather than leads. However 6 Music is different to any other radio station in the UK as having heard new music without hype and pluggers, is happy to give them airplay and much needed publicity.

    Removing 6 Music would be a disaster for the British grass roots music industry which needs more not less help.

  • Comment number 14.

    I'm still not convinced that those suggesting these proposals fully understand the true cultural value of 6 Music and the passion of its dedicated followers.

    6 Music is a distinct high quality radio station that sets itself apart from both commerical radio stations and other BBC stations by the diversity of music it plays. Simply taking 10 or 20% of it and putting it onto Radio 1 or Radio 2 will not work, and the ethos of the station will not be carried over.

    6 Music will continue to grow in its current form, but since it is a niche station by its very definition, it can never be expected to deliver huge audience numbers. Surely this logic applies to Radio 3 too, and that at least is not restricted by being digital only.

    If you decide to keep 6 Music as is, and continue to promote it, I believe history will prove you correct and you will have a music station that will be the envy of the world.

  • Comment number 15.

    "Yes, we could invest heavily in marketing to try to address this, but my preference is to ensure that money is focussed on unique, high quality radio, not supporting a large number of services"

    Why on earth should a peerless service like 6 music pay for the lack of quality of the other stations on the BBC? Just in terms of tracks played, 6 music plays 3 times as many unique songs as Radio 1 never mind the fantastic output at weekends. Surely that speaks volumes.

    These arguments simply do not hold up Mr Davie. You are getting rid of a quality and distinctive service in the name of quality and distinction. It appears that Mr Thompson and the Trust are massively ignorant of what it is 6 music actually do and indeed of the concept of music itself. His constant references to 'pop' music are cringeworthy and it makes me shudder to think that someone who has very little knowledge of these services is wielding such power over them.

    Getting rid of 6 music would be a huge mistake.

    Yours angrily

    Daniel Bamsey

  • Comment number 16.

    Save 6 Music!
    This is not a rude letter, so please consider it a true reflection of what I feel about the BBC’s cutbacks.

    I’ve written to every orifice of the BBC that I can get my hands on, and an unpleasant experience it was too. In an attempt to stop keep 6 music clean and bug free it has to be saved from being flushed down the lavatory by some jumped up, over paid cleaner, to try and alter 6 music’s output by incorporating it into the faecal matter of other Stations would be like trying to keep hold of diarrhoea in water, it just won’t work. Six music is a wondrous place where the soap is lavender scented, the bog roll quilted, the air is pine fresh and there is always a friendly face to hold your hand when things get a little tough.

    Hopefully Mr.Thompson and yourself will remove your heads from the bowl of the portaloo you are obviously in, and will come to your senses. If you walk off into the sunset with a trail of toilet paper stuck too your shoes you will not be missed.

    Kester Hoefkens

  • Comment number 17.

    With all due respect, Mr Davie, you are regurgitating the same old spiel as your colleagues. No one to date has directly addressed any of the main points of our arguments regarding the closure of 6 Music.

  • Comment number 18.

    It seems to me that the basic problem is Radio 2 - a confused mess which is unsure if it should appeal to 30 year olds or 70 year olds, and as close to a commercial station as anything in BBC Radio.

    I'd suggest R2 should be closed, cherry-picking the evening/weekend output to augment 6 Music and Radio 3. Then give 6 Music the FM platform it deserves.

  • Comment number 19.

    Mr Davie,

    Regarding your comment about 6Music "Currently, only one in five adults have heard of it"

    This may have been the assessment in the Trust's review, as a result of the current debate in the media this can no longer be true. The protest against the closure has served as the biggest advertisement for this station to date.

  • Comment number 20.

    I cannot believe your rationale.

    If the BBC "needs to focus its efforts and investment" there are many other services that deserve to be cut head of 6 Music. What are the REAL reasons why you've picked on this exemplary radio station? There is no competition out there so all you will do is leave a complete void. No commercial station would ever play this kind of music.

    If you are sincere when you say of 6 Music you are "passionate about its output", why are you merely toeing the party line? You should be using every last effort to ensure that this station - a national treasure and John Peel's true legacy - remains and continues to flourish in the future.

    If the 'consultation' regarding the Strategy Review is genuine, I sincerely hope that you respond in a correct manner to the desires of the millions of licence payers (i.e. the people who pay your wages) up and down the country.

    If "Radio 7 would be developed through closer ties with Radio 4, culminating in the re-branding of the station as Radio 4 Extra", why can't you adopt the same approach for 6 Music.

  • Comment number 21.

    I simply don't agree with your analysis to recommend the closure of 6 Music.

    However, by the time the consultation on these proposals is over much more that one in five adults will have heard of it and the listenership will have grown dramatically.

    Consequently, you won't need to invest heavily in marketing on this distinctive, much loved, unique, high quality radio. 6 Music is exactly what BBC Radio should be about.

    The BBC's problems don't lie with Radio but with a bloated, over-paid bureaucracy, over-paid celebrity TV presenters and TV programming of low ambition. Address these first.

    Save 6 Music.

  • Comment number 22.

    The differences between Radios 1 & 2 and 6music are light years apart, look at comparemyradio.com if you don't believe me. It's going to take a seismic shift to get anywhere near replicating the output of 6music on those stations.


    Also there's this rather confused vision of making Radio 2 50% spoken word in the daytime while also appealing to an older audience than at present. I know I speak for a lot of the 6music audience when I say we'll never listen to Radios 1 & 2 - we're too old for 1 and too young for 2. My Dad listens to Radio 2 because he likes a bit of Steve Wright and the other old has beens populating it, no way will I be doing the same.

    You see the thing is that a huge amount of the 6music listener base tune in while they're working, which is pretty much always in the daytime. And the daytime to early evening lineup at 6 is not much short of brilliant. Fantastic music brought to us by intelligent, witty and knowledgeable presenters who we identify with. What are we supposed to do in the daytime now while generic pop is piped down through Radio 1 and some bloke's wittering on about the price of fish on Radio 2 before introducing a Dire Straits record. It just plainly is not going to work.

    As for Radio1, what will happen to the legions who listen to that if you start to tinker with them and play anything other than The Killers, the latest generic vocodery RnB track by whoever or that new one by the bloke off X Factor.

    I'm willing to lay good money down that the listener figures at 6 have skyrocketed in the last few days and I also put it to you that those figures won't drop off too much when all the fuss dies down. People that try 6 generally like it and it has been massively under promoted which is why only 1 in 5 had heard of it until last week. I see ads and trails for Radio 1 and 2 all over the place, TV, out and about, at the cinema etc etc. Have I ever seen an ad for 6? No. Chances are that's not necessary anymore anyhow.

    So we get to 1xtra. What is the point of that? So far as I can tell every argument for getting rid of 6 would apply to that service, it costs too much, it's treading on commercial radio toes, it doesn't have wide reach. It's an extension of Radio1 for heaven's sake, a market which the BBC already has well covered. 6music is so utterly unique that it just can't be replicated anywhere else.

    You gave us a wonderful, unique gift with 6music, one that is revered by music lovers in the UK and around the world. Please do the right thing and let us keep it.

    It has the world at its feet with the current changes in the music biz (shift towards smaller independent labels, gigs and live sessions) and has the ability to lead the field for the BBC. With the decision to axe it you are regressing massively and making an enormous mistake. The BBC has proven there is a place for 6music, I believe it must stay.

  • Comment number 23.

    Yet more muddle-headed thinking from so-called managers who clearly haven't got the first clue what the BBC is for.

    Clearly (sarcasm alert!) all the people who keep telling you that 6Music is actually a good example of what the BBC does right (while 1Xtra, BBC3 etc. are the polar opposite) are wrong, and we just don't udnerstand.. I look forward (!) to a 'leaner meaner' BBC radio that better serves the interests of increasingly desperate major record labels.

    Stop trying to defend the indefensible, and listen to license payers (because when the Tories get in, you may well not have them anymore - then what will you do?)

  • Comment number 24.

    Put simply you are wrong and your market research is wrong. Digital radio is just beginning to take-off and what is bringing a lot of people to it is Radio 6 music, which is unique, distinctive and high quality - exactly what the BBC should be about.

    You need to reverse this decision before you alienate any more people forever from the BBC.

    Also it might be worth noting that perhaps if Radio 1, 2 and 5 weren't so awful people would be more sanguine about these proposals.

  • Comment number 25.

    I disagree that you need to cut back on the number of stations because the money needed to run 6music and the Asian network is tiny and a drop in the ocean. Your argument would also suggest that the BBC should start closing it's local radio output which I havn't heard proposed.

    6 music could easily be made more accessible than it is now. For example, 5 live is mostly events based coverage, this is usually during the day. Could the scarce analogue resources be put to better use by transmitting 5live during the day and 6music overnight? There is a tradition of more intresting and experimental musice being late at night anyway. This would allow 6 music to be more accessible to EVERYONE. It would also help promote 6music on digital.

    I can't imagine the overnight five live output is THAT popular and it could continue on digital overnight in the same way that 6music would be digital only during the day. It maximises resources where they best fit.

    You can't deny that would be an intelligent and efficient way forward.

  • Comment number 26.

    The argument for getting rid of 6Music is one of demographics. However, you cannot define music along age lines or class lines or ABC1s.

    6Music does something no other station does. Its eclecticism is what defines it, and is why the commercial sector will not replace it. It appeals to music fans, and fulfils a real service.

    Keep 6Music. It is public service broadcasting at its best.

  • Comment number 27.


    How do you intend to bring 6 music's content to a wider audience by closing it down? You can't seriously expect us to believe you will transfer the majority of the shows to radios 1 and 2. Even if you were able to manage it, I very much doubt any of it would be played at peak listening times, therefore you would be significantly reducing the audience not widening it.
    Are you suggesting that the money saved from closing 6 Music, spread across the rest of the BBC would significantly increase the quality of the corporation's output? Rubbish. You know it won't - it would be a drop in the ocean.
    Finally, you write as though the decision to close 6 Music is final - what about the consultation period? What about actually listening to what your licence fee payers are saying? Or do you know something we don't?

  • Comment number 28.

    Axing 6Music would be the opposite of 'putting quality first'. as you say in the above blog "but my preference is to ensure that money is focussed on unique, high quality radio" surely that is 6Music your describing?

  • Comment number 29.

    6 Music is "unique, high quality radio" and certainly more so than Radio 1, which actually has commercial rivals. It seems that the Director-General is choosing to do the opposite of what he claims. I am starting to wonder whether he has deliberately chosen to get rid of a station that is well-liked and perfectly fulfils the BBC's remit to inform, educate and entertain, in order to make a political point to the BBC's detractors.
    I find your claim to be 'passionate' about 6 Music's output rather offensive. I think you'll find that those who really are passionate about it are opposed to diluting its content across three different stations. Oh and, if the BBC really is desperate to save money, congratulations - the fans of the BBC's apparently best-kept secret have just done for free what the corporation felt required "heavy" investment.

  • Comment number 30.

    Mr Davie. You, the former head of MC&A, the BBC's Marketing Department are hardly the best positioned person to be arguing that its a lack of AWARENESS of the network that is part of the reason the network is facing closure. Raising awareness of the network was something you were ultimately in charge of. It seems by your own admission that you've failed in your job and thus failed the licence fee payer.

    Don't you just wish one, just one BBC exec would grow a pair and make a statement that they actually, passionately believed in, instead of just towing the political party line.

    I refer you to the much loved band Hope Of The States (a band that gets played on 6Music and NEVER on Radio 1 and 2, a fact that makes a mockery of Mark 'Tomo' Thompson's idea that the networks cross over) who said on their song 'Blood Meridian':

    Emergency, emergency
    Someone meant every word they said
    You should beat ‘em up, lock ‘em up
    Throw away the key yeah
    Never let it happen again

  • Comment number 31.

    Don;t understand the justification for axing 6 Music at all. If you are looking for things to axe, the obvious targets are 1xtra and 5 Live Sports Extra. The sports extra can be folded into Radio Five quite easily, there's no need to have it separate, and what five live does is already catered for in the commercial sector. Similarly, 1xtra is a replication of services already provided. If you want to do less things and do them better, then those two, which replicate existing offerings from both the BBC and the commercial sector, are the two most easily cut.

    I'd like to see a better justification for the recommendation to ace 6 Music than the ones presented. The ones presented simply do not stack up. I love the BBC and will support it through thick and thin, but if the BBC does decide to axe 6 Music I will have no choice but to revise my opinion of it. The BBC is one of the most defining things about British culture, and for it to turn its heart on such a vital piece of its soul shows that Murdoch has already won the debate. If 6 Music goes I think many people will be unable to support the BBC in the future, a future in which it would appear the BBC will need more support than ever.

    The BBC needs to understand what being a public service means. It is reacting as if it were a commercial entity, by looking to axe niche servicing. Has it come so far away from its core principles that it can't realised that isn't the way a public corporation should act?

  • Comment number 32.

    Passionate about its output? With all due respect Mr Davie, it appears you don't know your Ash from your Elbow.

  • Comment number 33.

    Mr Davie, you're a former marketing director for the BBC and before that Peps and before that marketing for Proctor and Gamble.

    Can you tell me exactly how this put you in line for the job as head of audio & music? What experience within the world of music did you bring to your job or were you purely an ad-man?

    Subsequently (as I imagine the answer to the above will be "uhhh, I like the Bee-Gees") why anybody should listen to your strategies when you seem clearly unsuitable for this role - I say that not only based on your experience but also the complete absence of logic in your proposal

  • Comment number 34.

    Mr Davie states that he is passionate about 6 music's output; how would he categorise that output? Does he consider it a "popular music radio station" like Mr Thompson? This channel's listeners certainly wouldn't see it that simplistically, and I suspect neither of these gentlemen has the first clue about 6 music's audience, or it's output.

    No man be an expert in every field, but when we don't understand a subject, the professional approach is to consult those with experience in the relevant area. Perhaps Mr Davie and Mr Thompson should be made aware of this principle of peer review, it would get around their inadequate understanding of the subject under discussion.

  • Comment number 35.

    Tim, you need to listen to what your *audience* is telling you. We are not your enemies, or your commercial rivals, or lobbyists for particular interest groups or political parties.

    We are *your listeners* and we are telling you that the service 6 Music offers is unique, of the very highest quality, and much loved by its audience.

    We may be a relatively small audience, but we are dedicated to 6 Music and we are exactly the kind of audience who you alienate at your peril - early adopters of digital radio, internet savvy, well-informed, and now, thanks to your foolish and short-sighted decision, angry.

    Given the chance, the station would very likely follow the positive audience growth trends seen in the last year - even in my personal experience, my peers who were not listening to 6 a year ago are now more aware of it and getting interested - and surely the station only has potential to grow massively as digital radio proliferates?

    You can surely see the great trust and positive goodwill you are throwing away by discarding this audience. We are not going to trot off and listen to Radio 2 or commercial radio just because we are told to - we want the innovative, eclectic, intelligent voice of 6 Music and we are not prepared to be treated as worthless and irrelevant. We are exactly the audience you should be striving to retain, the licence payers of the next 50-odd years - ignore us at your peril!

  • Comment number 36.

    Here we go again. A defiant DG, 'unconcerned' by the current protests, and now a controller toeing the line. I can see no motivation for this blog entry other than the preservation of Tim Davie's pay packet.
    Does he really think that regurgitating the same nonsense would be any more convincing this time? He would do well to read the Facebook group's responses to this blog.
    Davie, you are truly pathetic. But, then again, it should be expected of you. BBC management has a history of being weak-willed on contentious issues. Remember the humiliating climbdown over the Gaza appeal? I'm sure you do.

  • Comment number 37.

    I wanted to address something else too. The idea that 6music is a pop music radio station. I think there are often people in the BBC who can't understand what 6music is all about. This leads to things like George Lamb being added to the station. A move which was EXTREMELY unwelcome to the 6music listeners as that is not what 6music should be about. In a similar vein, when Mixing it was axed from Radio3 because it didn't fit in with the heavy genre style programming there, it was crazy not to move it to 6music where it would have fit perfectly.

    If people at the BBC want to think about the different stations in terms of genres, then the appropriate genre for 6Music should be "Other" and I feel 6Music should keep strongly to that genre. It is often considered bad form on polls to leave out the option "other" because it constrains people to pre-set answers. This is also why you need 6music.

    There are many people out there who just don't fit in the easy boxes.

  • Comment number 38.

    Mr Davie,

    As someone who fits into the demographic catered for by 6music I can quite catagorically state that commercial radio does not & never will compare to 6 either in its content or the quality of the delivery. To suggest the gap left by 6 would be filled by it is extraordinarily naieve, and scattering the remains willy nilly through 1 & 2s schedules will just not suffice.

    Forgive me if I'm mistaken but I thought the BBC was supposed to cater to the tastes & needs of all the licence fee payers? Trying to make a reduced number of stations all things to all men is just plain stupid, this will just result in listeners tuning in & out of different stations trying to find something they can connect with or just not bothering with the BBC.

    With digital switch over five years away this strikes me as a very premature move & ultimately politically motivated. The BBC does not have a monopoly with TV & radio, if commercial stations can't compete with the quality then they need to up their game or retire gracefully from the field!

    6music & the Asian Network have low listener figures compared to 1 & 2 because it's not as well establish & it's digital/internet only, how many people have digital radios compared to FM? & how many car manufacturers are shipping with DBA radios, not FM? Most have only just stopped selling cars with cassette players instead of CD! Once the FM signal is switched off people will have to convert then stations like 6 will have a level playing field.

    Think on please.

  • Comment number 39.


    You say you want to provide

    "unique, high quality radio, not supporting a large number of services"

    This is exactly what 6Music is - high quality, distinctive and unique content which can't (and never would) be found in the commercial sector. It is an asset to the BBC and precisely what I thought the BBC was supposed to be all about.

    I appreciate you may need to cut some of the services you provide, but why cut something unique when some of the other services you provide are currently offered successfully elsewhere? And why cut a station with a comparatively low budget? The suggestion that the small savings made in axing this radio station will result in some miraculous rise in the quality of programming elsewhere in the BBC is laughable and an insult.

    You also state:

    "I also believe it is essential that, as we re-invest the money currently spent on 6 Music, we protect some of its precious programming by redeploying it elsewhere in BBC radio"

    but as many others have said over the last few days, this simply is not workable. There is a reason 6Music listeners currently choose 6Music over Radio 1 and Radio 2 - they are not simply going to tune in for the occassional show 're-deployed' into their schedules, particularly as these are likely to be scheduled late at night/early in the morning so as not to upset these station's 'core' audiences. We listen to 6Music because we can get the content we like in one place all day long - not squeezed into slots at awkward times, alongside other, contradictory content. Shows like Marc Riley's, Stewart Maconie's and Guy Garvey's will not easily sit alongside Steve Wright, Sarah Kennedy, Scott Mills and Reggie Yates. All you will do is end up alienating Radio 1 and Radio 2's audiences as well as 6 Music's audience.

    In the face of all this support for 6Music, not just from it's dedicated if rather small (but currently growing very fast i'd wager) audience, but also from a wide range of high level industry representatives, national newspapers, musicians and even MPs, why do you persist in presenting us with such nonsense in defence of your decision? These arguements are clearly flawed, and many, many people are telling you so.

    I don't know what your real reasons are for axing 6Music, and, for that matter, the Asian Network. But whatever they really are, it's clear that no one at the BBC is making them known to the public. Instead you are just feeding us all this ridiculous contradictory nonsense.

    Please - remember what the BBC stands for and what it is there to do. You, and the rest of the BBC executives still defending this decision, are making the whole organisation look stupid.

  • Comment number 40.

    Oh, Tim, for all your experience in marketing at PepsiCo and Proctor & Gamble (great background in music there), your ‘people’ have really failed you this time. You see, 6Music listeners, wide through their demographic spread is, are not stupid. We see right through your ‘passionate’ statement to the man who clearly thinks ‘alternative’ is found on one of those compilation CD’s you find at service stations.

  • Comment number 41.

    BTW I do very much agree with you that the BBC 6music programming needs to be allowed to reach a bigger audience, which is why I propose it should be available overnight on Medium Wave. I think 6Music is also the perfect compliment to the other 5 channels. I don't think you need to invest heavily in marketing to promote 6music although it could be argued the BBC have acted poorly in this regard in the past as it sat on a lot of digital switchover money that went unspent that could have been used in this direction.

    6music on MW would provide a lot of free promotion for the channel.

    Alternatively put Radio1 on digital only and give 6music the FM frequencies. That should promote 6music and drive digital takeup with no added cost.

  • Comment number 42.

    I have to say, Tim, that you've neatly avoided the issue of 6Music. That is that this station does something that no other station does. I'm sure I don't have to explain to you what that is, but I believe I can say that integrating it into Radio 2 would not work - the identities of the two stations are too separate.

    It would be like integrating Radio 3 into Classic FM - a crime!!

  • Comment number 43.

    In fact, building on Ian's comment below

    If Radio 7 is going to be re-branded as Radio 4 extra,
    Why not re-brand 6Music as Radio 2 extra?

    If 6Music goes, there is nothing either in the BBC or commercially can replace it. This is simply a fact. XFM doesn't even get close.

  • Comment number 44.

    I'm hearing a massive amount of opposition to the closure of 6music from many corners and very few voices in favour of cutting it, they all emanate from the BBC.

    Do you perhaps think that your license fee payers, the people who you work for, have something real to say and that perhaps you should listen to their opinion?

    This is becoming quite embarrassing for you now, how long can you go on not answering the questions put in front of you by churning out the same nonsense? Other options are being put to you and it is your duty to listen. My license fee demands that you do.

  • Comment number 45.



    then tell us you want to shut it down!

  • Comment number 46.

    I have been listening to Radio 6 for around 6 months....To me its a gem of a station lost in a sea of murky dull radio. It meets all the criteria of unique, quality.Music now is controlled by a wide range of satalite tv stations and other radio stations, the bbc need to put that in context that however small an audience its an audience that the other stations do not have.I see now shops are selling satelite radios for global listening, obviously the next phase from DAB radios, how will radio look in the future when the american radio stations come hunting listeners in our country.But lets not forget music, Radio 6 gives important exsposure and for Radio 6 to disapear will just sufficate the music world like X Factor does.

  • Comment number 47.

    I couldn't disagree more with this decision. BBC6 music is exactly what the BBC should be doing, it promotes new and innovative music and seeks to occupy a space which is not served by commercial radio stations. BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 2 are copies of every other commercial station, no other station supports new music to the extent that BBC 6 music does. I hope the trust sees sense and reverts this bizarre decision.

  • Comment number 48.

    Hi Tim,

    I am not going to reiterate the opinions I have given in my survey, since I trust that they have been officially logged; I do not support the flooding of BBC e-mail addresses with complaints, as I believe that ample opportunity for public consultation has been provided. But having read the full report, and the article above, I am compelled to add to the comments here: not with a comment, but a question. Or rather two questions. These are not trick questions I _genuinely_ would appreciate answers to them. For reference, I am 34, will be 35 when the currently proposed closure takes place. I seek only popular music and music-related programming. Within the field of music my first priority is quality, my second variety. So, question 1:

    What will I be listening to at work (I'm employed for a normal 9-5 job) the day after 6 Music is axed. Radio 1? The report clearly states it will be targetting 15-29 year olds. Radio 2? Report says 50+ or higher, with 50% spoken. 1Xtra? Certainly not aimed at me. Commercial radio then - say NME radio? Checking the playlist for the last 30 days, their ratio of total tracks played to tracks unique to that time-period is 21%. 6 Music is 59%. And NME's playlist shares but 20% of 6 Music's. From my experience (and I will be happy to be proved wrong) this is as close as we get. So 4 tracks out of 5 are music that I wouldn't expect to hear on 6 Music, and 4 tracks out of 5 are played repeatedly. So if you support 6 Music's closure, can you please either tell me of a station I haven't heard of, or some indication of a rival station that has expressed a desire to move into this market?

    Second question is similar. You are passionate about 6 Music's output, but believe it must go. I am happy to take you at your word on both counts, but would really like to know:

    What will _you_ be listening to the day after 6 Music is axed?

  • Comment number 49.

    So 20% of the UK has heard of 6music. And as stated on earlier blogs, the demographic of 6music is pretty much average at 37 years.

    1 in fifty of all weekly listens (2%) are 6music. But since only 20% of the population have actually heard of the station, that actually gives 6music a 10% audience share of the people who know about it.

    If you extrapolate that nationwide the listenership for 6music would be roughly three times that of Radio 3.

  • Comment number 50.

    Oh dear, it appears Tim has performed the old 'Blog and Run' trick along with his boss et'al!

    Will no one from the BBC engage with us in this discussion like grown ups?

  • Comment number 51.

    I'm getting tired. 6 Music does what only the BBC can do. It must stay. Simple as that.

  • Comment number 52.

    I was "passionate" about my wife, so I divorced her.

    There's a very simple way of finding a bigger audience for 6Music. Advertise it better. I am getting furious at the guff coming out of the BBC. These people are not fit to be in charge of the proceeds from our licence fee. And when will someone manage to justify Top Gear's budget. They are supposed to be road testing new cars, not indulging in high jinx for twice the cost of 6Music.

  • Comment number 53.

    That comaparemyradio.com site is quite interesting...


    Not really comparable is it?

    6 Music attracts 5% of the available audience (12 million on digital isn't it?) which is better than radio 3...

  • Comment number 54.

    Tim Davie: You are an embarrassment if your contention is that you are, in anyway, in touch with what is real in the world and of value.

    You mistake mass for value. Would you begin to think a Nuremburg Rally something to be emulated? Would you take a dictator's electoral majority? This afternoon, listening to Steve Wright on my radio in the kitchen (non-DAB), I heard the oldies he was playing.... Hendrix, The Who, The Kinks, Neal Young, Otis Redding and James Brown. The generic pap that is common to much radio now, from BBCs 1 and 2, through the commercial sector, is non-music when compared with such greats. Radio 6, however, plays the best of new and leftfield music and the best of old material. So many songs one has never heard. The presenters themselves are happy to learn about songs and artists they did not yet know. Radios 1 and 2 are not about learning.
    The Strategic Review, hideously, considers Radio 6 a "pop" station. It is far from being a pop station and it is horrifying to learn that the BBC, this late in the day, does not know what is and is not pop. Your use of the term is staggering and, in a kind of a way - given the job you occupy, shames you.
    It is clear that the BBC is giving up and allowing right-wing trends to gradually seize it. Radio 6 is seen as too leftfield and as being for thoughtful people. "It is too good to get rid of, so quick, let's get rid of it. In time people will forget and then we can give up to Murdoch."
    Perhaps you are hoping that the opposition to closing Radio 6 will just seem like no more than special pleading from an out of touch portion of the population. How wrong you are. Where is the mass audience but for Saturday night talent show crap, which, if it features sound, is not about music. Perhaps you like offending a self-regarding cognoscenti as though they arrogate to themselves a special place and a special knowledge, but the real truth and value lies elsewhere, with the simple mass. Well, how wrong could you be? Radio 6 listeners, if anything, will be people aware of others, many will be struggling in life, they harken to it as though it were a haven.
    And as for your tactic of saying you love Six Music but still have to close it, as though you're assuming for yourself the rational, grown-up position, is transparent and pathetic.
    The longer you keep in denial about the desirability of Six Music, the more arrogant you will be. It is indeed thuggish behaviour that you propose, and all because the here today and gone tomorrow politicians are scared in their pants of Murdoch: An Australian who gave up lager, cricket and rugby, for America and the quest for world media dominance. Any patriotic person would immediately close Sky, and take all newspapers from Murdoch but for one.

  • Comment number 55.

    Something is being moderated from 6.00pm, and it is now 7.23pm. Moderation should be very quick and should be aimed only, perhaps, at avoiding gratuitous offence.
    This time-delay in the moderation suggests something untoward.

  • Comment number 56.

    I cannot see mine in the queue, where are they?

  • Comment number 57.

    Two of mine have disappeared from the list, why?

  • Comment number 58.

    According to the BBC's own figures for 2008/9, 6Music cost £9 million to run.

    'Restructure' cost £11 million.

    So, the culture of Perpetual Reform costs more to implement than a station that is well-loved by its listeners, and is 'growing its audience' all the time, despite its niche, low-reach platform (DAB).

    The Culture of Perpetual Reform, of course, distracts BBC Staff from doing their *actual jobs*, and so actually decreases quality & efficiency.
    But, on the other hand, it does 'prove' that the Managers ('Senior managers' £21 million) are 'doing something' to justify their salaries.

    You intend to axe 6Music on the grounds that "digital take-up has been slow" *just* before the analogue spectrum is SOLD OFF by the Government, thereby forcing ALL BBC radio on to the DAB spectrum?
    That is not even Spin - it's merely a really, really poor attempt at Spin. In other words, a poor lie (as in an attempt to mislead).

    You also told the Guardian "this is part of a strategy to ensure BBC radio continues to be as relevant and popular as ever in the digital world". What abject rot. When people have managed to find 6Music, they have become hooked on it very quickly. 6Music is increasing its audience all the time. It is becoming MORE popular with the audience. It is becoming *more* 'relevant' all the time.
    If increasing 'relevance' and popularity is the overall strategy, then 6Music is an ASSET that should be cherished.
    What's more, it is a unique resource, that can NOT be replicated in the commercial sector. It is EXACTLY what the BBC is supposed to provide. Unlike, say, 1Extra, which is massively catered-for (in metropolitan areas). 6Music has no analogues even in the big cities. Outside London (I know, it must be a *horrible* concept for you), 6Music is a beacon of quality amid a sea of festering MOR dreck and 'nostalgia' stations.

    6Music champions new artists, it plays out music that has been highly *influential* in the development of 'popular music' over the last forty years, its presenters are almost all very knowledgeable and passionate about the various genres of music that they play on their shows. Some of its presenters are even successful, influential musicians in their own right. 6Music does *exactly* what the BBC is supposed to do, and what the For-Profit sector can NOT do - it employs specialists and allows them to *take risks*.
    Corporate advertisers HATE risk. Every commercial station that has tried to be like 6Music has failed very quickly. They have either been wound up, or have degenerated in to yet another identikit clone, playing out the same small playlist of 'safe' middle-of-the-road blandness.
    6Music sticks to its 'Reithian' remit, and its audience is very, very loyal.
    It is the Radio 3 of amplified music, and is the sort of 'quality product' that the BBC Trust claims to be trying to focus on.

    Axing 6Music is NOT going to increase the BBC's 'relevance' or popularity in the digital age, and nor will it save a significant amount of money (when compared to the BBC's overall budget).
    So, WHY axe it?
    So that your commercial competitors can increase *their* market share?
    What kind of specious mendacity is *that*?
    I challenge *anyone* to cite an example of a Business that is run along *those* principles. And being 'more like a business' is what the public sector is *supposed* to be aiming to do, isn't it?

    I know that you are trying to appease the Tories, in the hope that by culling the BBC's highest-quality/unique services (such as the peerless website, which is so 'negatively impactful' on the profitability of Mr. Murdoch's various digital products) you can persuade them not to kill the Corporation off, but this 'Strategy' will NOT work.
    They will kill the BBC because doing so suits their political agenda, and it would make their mate Mr. Murdoch lots and lots of lovely Profit.
    If you axe the distinctive, high-quality services that the commercial sector can NOT replicate, the Tories will kill the BBC on the grounds that it is 'not distinctive', and 'every product that it offers can already be found in the commercial sector'.
    If you axe the mindless (but ratings-friendly) commercial drivel whilst keeping the stuff that the rest of the world envies Britain for, the Tories will kill the BBC for being 'elitist', 'out of touch with the common people', or 'focussing on minority audiences at the expense of the mainstream'.

    Having no BBC to produce high-quality, advertisement-free 'product' that can attract the audience away from your commercial station would, of course, be a *great* Opportunity to cut production costs if you own a For-Profit broadcaster.
    And, of course, no competition from the BBC = greater audience share = greater advertising revenue the For-Profit sector.

    But, perhaps being part of the Management Team who helped to usher-in the killing-off the BBC, thereby allowing the For-Profit sector to make much more profit by churning out lower-quality programming to a larger audience *may* prove to be a lucrative thing to have on one's CV?

    I don't know how wildly inaccurate that idea is, but I can *not* think of any *other* reason to start culling those parts of the BBC that fulfil their own (and the BBC's) core remit so well.

    What's the *actual* reason that you want to kill 6Music?

  • Comment number 59.

    Wow. Thompson keeps rolling out people who do not explain why there is a proposal to close 6 music. In fact, this article does everything but.

    In fact, for an article where "I would like to explain the thinking behind this proposal and the plans for the Asian Network", there is in fact no explaining of either. Did something get chopped off the blog?

    Mr Davie, I would be very wary of towing the Thompson party line on this one, especially when it clearly has so much opposition, and is clearly so lacking in logic, common sense, thought of listeners or any credibility.

    I fully expect Thompson's position to be untenable by the end of this. I hope yours is safe.

  • Comment number 60.

    Mr Davie, yours and Mark Thompson's arguments just don't stack up. Anyone with half a brain can drive a horse and cart through your flimsy (lack of) logic. You say your priorities are high quality and distinctiveness, yet you propose to axe the highest quality and most distinctive output in your portfolio.

    You also say that 6 Music doesn't have enough listeners (I gather that you used to be in charge of marketing it until a year or two ago, so I take that as an admission of failure on your part), but the Strategic Review says that if the 6 Music audience grew, it would have an impact on the commercial network. So it's too small to be allowed to continue, but it's not allowed to get big enough to be allowed to survive, because the BBC has done some kind of formal or informal Faustian deal with sleazy Murdoch and friends that they have the 'rights of ownership' over the 30-50 audience. Well a) no radio station owns me and b) what on EARTH makes you think that the commercial networks meet my needs or that if you axed 6 Music, I would go running into their arms? It just won't happen. I started listening to 6 Music in the first place because I was fed up of the banality and repetition of commercial stations.

    Your decision is wrong, and it is totally in opposition to the stated objectives of your shiny new strategy that your expensive management consultants have written for you.

    By the way, I'm keeping a copy of what I posted, so if this is censored by the moderators, I'll know.

  • Comment number 61.

    How much are we paying you to write this drivel?

    This is just a restatement of the reasons already given for the closure of 6 - reasons that have been comprehensively rubbished in innumerable posts, comments and blog entries on this and many other websites.

  • Comment number 62.

    Mr Davie,

    I don't believe for one second that you are passionate about 6 Music, so save the patronising pseudo-empathy.

    What are you actually going to with the extra £7 million? You will not create anything approaching the 'quality' of this service with that paltry sum.

    It doesn't make sense to get rid of an 'original and distinctive' station in order to attempt to instill these values in other stations that are a long way from being so.

    Do you even realise how far apart 6 Music and Radio 2 are? Only scrapping the latter completely and starting again would achieve anything other than a watering-down of the former's content - which would insult and ultimately lose listeners.

    Your confidence in these proposals, despite huge opposition, shows your ignorance and beligerance. Let's hope the trust does the right thing and knocks some sense into you.

  • Comment number 63.


    Just to reiterate what others have posted and so as to leave you in no doubt whatsoever, when you talk about 6music and say "I too am passionate about its output." We do not believe your insincerity for a nanosecond.

    If that quote from yourself was true then you would not be rubber stamping the motion, you would have resigned your highly paid post (which would go a long way to funding 6music's brilliance for a long stretch). I strongly doubt you have ever tuned in for a nanosecond, you should, it's public service broadcasting it its very best from the corporation paid for by us.

  • Comment number 64.

    Tim, I think your knowledge of selling fizzy drinks is more extensive than creating decent radio. 6music is a cohesive entity: it can't be cut up into bits and then parcelled off to Radios 1, 2, 3 and survive. And you know that it isn't possible anyway - the Trust has said that Radio 2 musn't become any younger and Radio 1 any older. If 6music shuts down you can shove my DAB radio into a place where reception will be poor.

    I hope everyone reading this has replied to the BBC Trust at the link in the blog post.

  • Comment number 65.

    Hey Tim, just want to add my voice to the discussion, and say that you are in danger of insulting your readership by claiming to be 'passionate' about a service you want to axe. There's an elephant in the room which you are conveniently failing to address - namely the tension between your professed commitment to diversity and quality, and the fact that 6Music exemplifies those values wholly and completely.

  • Comment number 66.

    If the author of the blog is not willing to reply to any of the comments raised, then you have to wonder what the point of blogging at all. In fact you have to question whether Mr Davie or Mr Tate has even taken the trouble to read any of these responses.

    They've engaged in the 21st century equivalent of scrawling on a toilet wall. How does the motto go, "management consultant shall speak BS unto management consultant"?

  • Comment number 67.

    "maintaining our overall investment in digital radio to use in a range of innovative ways to provide listeners with great digital content."

    6Music is already doing this, and at a fraction of the cost of some of your similar services.

    I really hope that this consultation is a genuine exercise, and not simply a fig leaf for a decision that's already been taken. I keep reading that this is part of a refocus on "quality, not quantity", and yet 6Music is exactly the sort of high quality product that the commercial sector will never provide. Please read the almost unanimously negative response to this blog, take note of the online protest groups which are mushrooming in size, and reconsider.

  • Comment number 68.

    I would like to call for Mr Davie's resignation. It is utterly inappropriate for the BBC to employ as Director of Audio & Music someone who clearly has so little interest in music and understanding of the cultural significance of the Corporation's output.

  • Comment number 69.

    Since the proposed cuts have been made public all I keep hearing is the BBC wanting to put quality first, and doing fewer things better. If that is the case it seems preposterous to close 6 music, as this is the only station, in my opinion, that's of the highest quality. It's wide variety of music, indepth interview, music news updates and music obsessed (rather than self obsessed) presenters make it a station for music lovers! With out it I will have to go back to listening to music via Spotify, which is a real shame as I have found out about great up and coming artist/bands through 6 music as well as some being able to hear all time favourite and golden oldies I've forgotten about - I just don't get that from any other station and I think it would be a travesty for the BBC and the music industry in general to let this great station go.

  • Comment number 70.

    "...my preference is to ensure that money is focussed on unique, high quality radio..." You just don't get it, do you. Please have the recommendation reversed and resign now.

  • Comment number 71.


    The BBC is currently playing a key cultural role in providing 6 Music, bringing new artists to the mainstream. If 6 Music is closed it will leave a huge void. The fact that 6 Music has a small number of listeners compared to the bigger shows is absolutely irrelevant, because it is to a degree a feeder channel to the bigger shows. Let me explain...

    There is no way that Radio 2 or Radio 1 have the programming space to promote all the new music out there, and the producers won't have time to sift through the material they receive. The effect of closing 6 Music will deny many artists and bands the possibility of working their way up the 'radio chain' to Radio 2 or Radio 1 (incidentally, as I have done, starting with Tom Robinson's show on 6 Music up to Wogan and Chris Evans etc.). I just wouldn't have got there without 6 Music, but more to the point, my fans wouldn't have discovered my music.

    Thank you.

    Alex Cornish

  • Comment number 72.

    I specifically purchased a DAB radio in order to listen to 6Music - and I've read of many others doing the same thing - I wonder how many have purchased a DAB radio specifically to listen to 1Xtra or one of the BBCs other digital-only stations?

  • Comment number 73.

    "I would like to explain the thinking behind this proposal and the plans for the Asian Network, but it's important to explain them in the context of the wider strategy."

    Well Mr Davie, I've read your words and there is no explanation of the thinking behind this proposal.

    There is the statement that by concentrating on doing fewer things better you will achieve something, but no, there is no explanation of *the thinking* behind this proposal at all.

    But, as you are the Head of BBC Radio I feel I have to ask a question.

    How is it that Radio Wales, Radio Cymru and Radio Ulster/Foyle are allowed to continue entertaining their, frankly, risible number of listeners for a cost of £50 million, yet 6Music is slated with the axe for, pro rata, reaching a higher proportion of the population (on a per capita basis) with a smaller budget?

    I await your 'explanation' with great interest!

  • Comment number 74.


    If you want to save money, why not save money by getting rid of BBC Local Radio, which is neither distinctive, nor unserved by the commercial sector, and which costs about 15 times more than 6 music.

    But you don't really care for music, do you?

  • Comment number 75.

    The real illogic of these proposals is shown in the comparison of 6 Music and 1Xtra. 6 offers a distinctive service not found elsewhere on the BBC or commercial radio. Ixtra, by definition, supplements Radio 1, which itself is very similar to much commercial output. 6 Music costs less than 1xtra; in the most recent BBC accounts the former cost £9 million, the latter £9.6million. 6 has consistently more listeners than 1xtra; according to Rajar data since Dec 2008, 6 has, on average, had 70 000 more listeners than 1xtra. It seems unclear how 6 could be absorbed into Radios 1 or 2. But as others have suggested, and as these figures underline, it would make much more sense to absorb 1xtra into Radio1

  • Comment number 76.

    Once again, a wholly nonsensical argument.

    In terms of the two key points that you raise then:
    1. You speak of extensions. I fail to see why you even need extensions. You need several strands of content. Why muddy the waters with these so-called extensions? Each strand should address a different audience. As has been pointed out over the last week, 6 Music caters to a very specific demographic. Those that listen to 6 Music don't listen to anything else. I am certainly not in the business of sitting around all day in the hope that Radio One plays one decent song every 3 hours. The joy of 6 Music is that if you don't like one track, you know full well that one you do like is just around the corner. That's the pleasure of listening to a quality, diverse station all day. Stick the 6 Music content on Radio One or Two and it'll be relegated to obscure night-time slots. Once again, one of the joys of 6 Music is being able to listen to the music I like when I am working during the day. I don't have to stay up to some ungodly hour to enjoy new music.

    2. You speak of bigger audiences...
    Audience figures are not the point. It's an alternative station! 6 Music costs nothing in the grand scheme of the BBC budget. It represents value for money in terms of costs per listener, and hits a demographic that you wouldn't ordinarily be engaging. Just because there's relatively few of us, it doesn't mean that we shouldn't receive a service. Indeed, it is your remit to inform, eduate and entertain EVERYONE.

    In axing 6 Music you make a mockery of the core values that you have emphasised time and again over the last ten days.

  • Comment number 77.

    I've got a better solution to improving BBC Radio. Get someone that understands Radio and not just selling Head & Shoulders as Head of Radio. Don't tell everyone 6 Music is expensive per listener when you spend more per listener on Radio 3. As for the GBP50M you waste on 60,000 who watch BBC Alba, well..

  • Comment number 78.

    You need to do fewer things better - okay, that's fine. But why not cut the services which do not deliver the 'quality' you profess to be focussed on and which consume far more of the BBC's budget than 6music? I have yet to hear a convincing argument for keeping BBC3 - you know, the 'proving ground' that's brought us such stunning successes as Horne & Corden, which the latter has admitted (on the BBC's own site no less) is utter rubbish - whilst killing 6music.

    I put it to you that you are not interested in 'quality' at all, rather catering for the masses and pandering to the whims of the commercial sector and right wing politicians. How hard would it be to cut £9-million from the BBC3 budget to keep 6music?

  • Comment number 79.

    Paul (#75) makes an excellent point about comparing the underperforming 1Xtra & the dinstinctive growing 6Music. I do wonder that if the proposals had called for the end of Asian Network & 1Xtra instead, 2 stations with large ethnic minority audiences, would the BBC be being accused of something else instead?

  • Comment number 80.


    I'm frankly baffled by your comment that "while digital radio has seen growth, my concern is that current development remains slow."

    It sounds like you're saying the BBC can't be bothered to wait...

    Digital radio is in its infancy and it will obviously take a good deal of time for it's audience to grow, given that FM radio is still accesible and that digital radios are reasonably expensive and considered to be - for the moment at least - non-essential, luxury items. That's been true of almost all steps forward in technology, when they've initally come onto the market; VHS to DVD, DVD to Blue Ray, vinyl to cassette, cassette to CD, CD to MP3 - I could go on.

    The BBC runs an HD TV service. So I presume armed with this new found logic the BBC will be binning that as well? I bet that the take up on your HD services is pretty low right now, given that most people are only now finally getting on board with Freeview (and that's only because the government's got an analogue switchoff gun to their heads.)

    It's a ridiculous argument for you to make, and indicative of the way in which the BBC is desperately fumbling to find something that justifies this massively unpopular and clearly counter-intuitive decsion.

  • Comment number 81.

    Getting sick of the BBC's PR campaign now. Both here and on Breakfast News we get the standard "we love 6music but..." as the introduction to some half-baked reasoning as to why this station has been singled out.

    We've all looked at the stats of costs and listeners and it doesn't add up.

    We look at your bizarre classification systems for what your station output should be and it completely misses point of 6music.

    If you were honest about this and 'fessed up that the only reason 6 music is being shut down is because counting to 6 requires a second hand then we might be able to have a proper discussion about this.

  • Comment number 82.


    I honestly don't believe you care at all about music, because if you did you wouldn't be feeling really smug by saying that closing down 6 Music and have a lot of people complaining about it.

    But what's really sad, so that no matter how many complaints you're going to get from those who don't want 6 Music to shut down, you're just going to ignore them all, as if their opinions don't matter to you. The reason for that is because frankly you narrow-mindedly believe that what you are doing is right.

    In fact, what you've said is neither true nor persuasive.

  • Comment number 83.

    "Currently, only one in five adults have heard of it and less than one in 50 listens each week. Yes, we could invest heavily in marketing to try to address this, but my preference is to ensure that money is focussed on unique, high quality radio, not supporting a large number of services."

    surely if 6music hasnt been marketed properly in the past, this would be the fault of the BBC's Marketing, Communications & Audiences division?

    oh hang on.....

  • Comment number 84.

    I humbly beg your forgiveness for my evident stupidity but I don't understand. Are you saying 6 Music is simply a pop station? Are you saying Radio 1 (and the inexplicable 1Xtra) and Radio 2 will be improved by the addition of the remnant 6 Music elements? You suggesting that to find a Radio station that target's me, at 32, I should create a hybrid by flicking between Radio 1 and 2? Should I apply this logic to other areas of my life? I could axe my windows and regulate the light and fresh air in my house by going in and out of my front door. I could axe the volume knob and get the perfect volume by turning the radio on and off. I think I'm starting to get it.

    We're not asking you to make brilliant decisions, or even make brilliant new radio stations. You already have a brilliant radio station in 6 Music that could not fit your stated aims more perfectly if it tried. All we're asking you to do is not make a terrible decision.

  • Comment number 85.

    "In fact you have to question whether Mr Davie or Mr Tate has even taken the trouble to read any of these responses." I wonder if Mr Davie even read the original blog, to be honest. The flaws in its arguments have been well explored by now: if it were my blog, I'd be so embarrassed, now.

  • Comment number 86.

    Rob #84... "I could axe the volume knob and get the perfect volume by turning the radio on and off. I think I'm starting to get it."

    youre so obviously NOT getting it... you move the radio closer/further away to get the perfect volume! any foo' knows that!

    my final point for the day is "we're proposing bold steps to strengthen and simplify our station line-up. I do not believe that offering the current range of nine stand-alone digital networks is the right way to serve audiences and ensure radio remains strong in a digital world"

    so extensions of the big radio stations are the way forward? and by taking the "best bits" of 6music and shoving them into the rest of the bbc radio schedules is the best way forward?

    by doing this, you are killing a station that i am happy to listen to at almost ANY POINT IN THE DAY/WEEK, and making me go searching for good stuff by channel hopping to radio 2 at 11pm on a wednesday?

    i dont think so...

  • Comment number 87.

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

  • Comment number 88.

    6music has had marketing campaigns in the past but none of them have been terribly effective. The people responsible were clearly more familiar with marketing soda pop than they were with music stations - they're the type of people who are proned to resorting to meaningless management-speak rather than producing coherent arguments. They really have no place working for the BBC.

  • Comment number 89.

    So Tim Davie choses to suck up to his boss and defend a stupid decision. I've read all the arguements and they don't add up. 6music is unique, distinctive quality everything the bbc should stand for. If Davie doesn't reconise that then he isn't up to the job. And if he does but still chooses to kiss his managers rear than words fail me.

    bbc6 has pretty good listening figs for a DAB channel. represents a fairly normal value in terms of cost per listener and is producing output not available anywhere else.

  • Comment number 90.

    I think the crux of the matter for me is the purpose of the BBC. It is there to provide a high quality, and this is the key point, unique service. You cannot find the output provided by 6music anyhere else. It is entriely unique and a credit to the BBC. I am pleased that my licence fee pays for it. Amalgamating its function into radio 1 and 2 will dilute the product to the point where I will not listen to any station provided by the bbc. It's relatively low numbers, which you admit is due to poor advertising, should not be a justification for closure. By doing so you've essentially set it up to fail. The publicity this propsed closure has made will undoubtedly boost ratings. Surely the following few weeks will give a better reflection of the place bbc6 music has in delivering content to a wide audience.

  • Comment number 91.

    Oh for goodness'* sake how dumbed-down does the BBC want to go? "Radio 4 Extra the station for people who can't count to seven." I look forward to BBC Three being "rebranded" Channel 5 Less.
    As for the axing of 6 Music, this simply does not make any sense. Given that the report says that it wants to make "fewer things better" and that one of the five editorial priorities is "Inspiring knowledge, music and culture", it is utterly contrary to close one of the stations that is widely recognised as doing an excellent job and which provides inspiring knowledge, music and culture. 6 Music is Public Service Broadcasting as it is meant to be: it provides a top quality service that is not available from the commercial sector.
    If the BBC wants to spend £600 million more on programme making, this is not going to be funded by closing the £9 million per year 6 Music. Such a massive blow to the listening public and the creative industries for such an insignificant saving fails any sensible cost/ benefit analysis.
    As for the fact that "currently, only one in five adults have heard of it and less than one in 50 listens each week," well, I reckon that's pretty good for a digital only station. With a listenership of 695,000, 6Music compares well to the likes of other digital only services, such as 1Xtra ("the station for people who can't spell") which attracts around 531,000 listeners and Five Live Sports Extra, which attracts 663,000 listeners. Whichever way you look at it, this is an indefensible cut.
    I was interested to read that "we could invest heavily in marketing to try to address this, but my preference is to ensure that money is focussed on unique, high quality radio." I am glad at this massive change of policy and that, after all these years of constant complaints to "Feedback" listeners to Radio 4 will no longer be bombarded with the excessive, deeply irritating, superfluous trailers that have driven us to distraction. That IS what you mean. Isn't it?
    *Such was my exasperation at the obtuse nature of the posting that my original words (even in abbreviated form) were sufficient to upset the mods

  • Comment number 92.

    Mr Davie,

    I've heard your protestations on Feedback and read your blog and I am saddened that you really don't understand what Radio is and that you do not understand music and what drives music lovers. Lets look at your points:

    "BBC's mission to inform, educate and entertain" - yes it is. So why are you seeking to close a radio station that plays a wider variety of music than any other radio station in the UK if not the world?

    I know you say that you are going to move some of the "content" over to other stations. What does that mean really ? Do you think that will work ? Don't you remember when Mark and Lard had first a breakfast show then an afternoon show - many of us loved it, but lots of people just didn't get it. Does that mean Craig Charles will get a slot on radio 3 and Stuart Maconie Freak Zone on radio 2? Is that meant to pacify us? Don't you get it? We don't want to wake up to Chris Moyles on Radio 1 or Chris Evans on 2. We want to hear the Hawk and then Shaun first thing in the morning. We want the whole, Laverne, Nemone, Tom R, Gideon Coe and yes even George Lamb. If you destroy 6Music then you will lose a large chunk of people for good. If I cannot listen to 6Music I will not be listening to other stations in the UK, instead I'll be using my laptop and web radio to listen to college and NPR stations in the US such as KCRW, or I'll be listening to CBC Radio 3 in Canada. And when that charter is up for renewal I'll be lobbying my MP to shut the BBBC. You are on a slippery slope if you close 6Music for the reasons you are giving, the same reasons could be given for the rest of the stations you run.
    You argue 6Music too expensive given its audience ? What about Radio 3? Similar cost per listener. You spend more on the Proms than on 6Music. And please don't get me started on BBC3.

    You and Mark Thompson say if 6Music more popular then it would interfere with the commercial sector: What a joke - why not sell radios 1 and 2 then. They are much greater competition for the private sector than a well promoted 6music especially given their massive budgets. And as for Absolute Radio - I hear better stuff tuning into US regional AOR- then at least the ads and news are slightly exotic.

    You say you are committed to digital radio. Do you realise by shutting 6music , you will be killing DAB. 6Music is the only reason I bought a DAB radio, and its why now after 7 years of listening to 6music I have 5 DAB radios so I can hear 6music at home, at work and in the car.

    Finally I was sorry to hear that you have trouble managing 9 stations. Never mind. I'm sure we can arrange a pay cut when you only have 7. Really though, get real. Your comments on Feedback about the difficulty of having 9 stations made my blood boil. You are paid 10 times the national average wage and double what Gordon Brown gets. If you cannot do the job, got back to selling soft drinks and let someone who cares about Radio do it instead.

  • Comment number 93.

    The proposed closure of BBC 6music is a huge mistake. This station is representative of exactly what the BBC should stand for, ie. well-informed, high-quality, unique content that is not duplicated anywhere in the commercial sector. The proposed closure is a
    contradiction of the core values that the BBC should stand for and a contradiction of all that has made the BBC the most respected broadcaster in the world. To close this station would be indicative of a lack of imagination and foresight on the part of the BBC Management and Trust and would be a huge disappointment to the many thousands of ardent fans of the station and leave them with the notion that the BBC no longer cares for
    quality broadcasting or listens to its audience. This argument applies equally to all BBC content that is of high-quality, original and unique.

  • Comment number 94.

    Quite frankly, the original post is an insult to the intelligence of anybody who has engaged with this debate over the last weeks and months. The BBC Trust completes a review of Radio 2 and 6 Music only to have its recommendations overturned by a "strategy" review that isn't worthy of the name.

    We need to watch out for people like Tim Davie - they will assault 6 Music and then go for Radio 3 - why do we need it when the commercial sector does "classical" music so well? They will then merge 5 Live and Radio 4 as we don't need so much speech - and all through spurious market research.

    The remainder of his post has been approached with the correct level of contempt and derision.

  • Comment number 95.

    Hi Tim,

    I have now listened to your comments on the Radio 4 Feedback programme, and while I think that axing a station before you have evaluated where (or if) its listenership could be relocated is lunacy, I am prepared to continue to take you at your word.

    But your plans for redirecting 6 Music towards Radio 1 and Radio 2 don't make sense. Why not Radio 3? 6 Music's listener base has more in common with Radio 3's, since it is aimed at those who are less interested in the mainstream and easily obtainable, and more towards those who have an interest in real music from real musicians.

    Now while I would still be upset by 6 Music's closure and relocation to off-peak Radio 3, I would put it to you that not even mentioning Radio 3 as a possible relocation for "the best" of 6 Music, you have betrayed the fact that you do not understand what it is that 6 Music offers, let alone have any justification for claiming you are "passionate" about it.

    You made repeated reference to the contention that you are no "de-investing" in radio. But under the proposals you _are_ de-investing in radio for the 30-50 demographic; talk of redirecting 6 Music's output towards Radio 1 and Radio 2 simply do not hold up given the report's black-and-white target audiences for these two stations. And with public statements from commercial radio leaders (whom the report claims to be benefactors of your withdrawal from the 30-50 demographic) that they do not envisage moving in to the void left by 6 Music, can you not accept that there is no logical justification to this move within the objectives that the report claims to serve?

    I will ask once again. If you are passionate about 6 Music's output, what will you and I be listening to the day after it is closed? If you (or Mr Thompson) cannot answer that question, I would be forced to ask: how on Earth can you consider the research that went into this proposal to be anything approaching sufficient?

    As a final note, I have been trying very hard to keep my questions and responses polite and constructive, and I absolutely do not support (though can just about understand) those who have been straightforwardly offensive toward you and yours. But I would urge you please to give a straight answer to at least one straight question, or just hold your peace. Your blog entry above, along with your interview on the Feedback programme, do not address a single query that has been levelled against the report, and has merely served to further incense the thousands who desperately want to understand where this seemingly irrational proposal has come from.



  • Comment number 96.

    6music is the only radio station I have really listened to on a daily basis for the past 7 or 8 years when Andrew Collins did the drive time show (I actually complained when Steve Lamacq took over that time slot!)

    In the BBC Trust review of Radio 2 and 6 music they stated that ' Audiences believe that 6 Music offers something which is not available on other radio stations and analysis shows that there is very little song overlap between Radio 2, 6 Music, Radio 1 and commercial radio'

    On March 2nd, 2010, BBC's director-general Mark Thompson stated that 'If we built the (6music) audience up the danger is that you run head long into mainstream commercial radio in this country'. From what the BBC Trust has said, this is simple not True.

    It is obvious from the outside that the BBC channels that DO impinge on the commercial market are BBC1, News24, CBBC, Radio 1, Radio 2 and FiveLive.

    6music is being closed because it is the cheapest option that will cause the least amount of fuss.

    I find this KowTowing to commercial and government pressure nauseating and if this is the sort of far-sighted and logical way of thinking that deserves a salary of £860K pa for the Director General, the BBC Trust has got some major problems on its hands.

  • Comment number 97.

    Please do not close BBC 6Music, it really is the only alternative out there. It's closure would be completely contradictory to the BBC's ethos and a sad loss.

    In my opinion you'd be much wiser to scale down your TV output, close BBC3 and BBC4, both of which do not have enough quality content to justify their existence and what good there is in them could easily replace some of the repeats and dross on BBC1 and BBC2.

    Do not close 6Music, it is the best thing on the radio.

  • Comment number 98.


    In terms of value for money 6music is beyond comparison when it comes to educating and taking risks on new music in Britain.
    Closing this radio station and taking its distinctive content onto Radio 1 and Radio 2 will only weaken the BBC in its public mission to inform the UK about music.
    It will also serve to weaken the BBC's position when it comes to DAB as far fewer people will be willing to leave the status quo for digital stations if one less unique proposition is available.
    As has been said by others, I also believe that the commercial sector are not going to provide similar content to 6 Music as it is seen to be too risky for advertisers.
    Closing this station therefore leaves the UK cultural scene in a much worse position than previously.
    I strongly suggest that 6Music is saved from closure following this review.

    Kind regards,


  • Comment number 99.

    I'm truly amazed by the BBCs idea that cutting 6music will somehow improve output. I'm sort of finding the concept that the best way to improve something is by removing the best bit of it somewhat confusing. But then i'm no management consultant. Or DG to come to that.

    I listen to 6music pretty much every day, the only station i've ever been able to say that about. It exemplifies what the BBC can achieve. I don't really watch TV and don't listen to any other radio stations. The idea that you'll somehow assimilate me into R1 and R2 programming is insulting at best and laughable at any rate. I've always defended the BBC but to be honest, if you push this through the Tories and Murdoch can have you for all I care. It shows exactly where you are headed and I don't care much for a trip to banalsville. All your arguments have been given a thorough going over elsewhere on this blog so i won't bother.

    WAKE UP.


  • Comment number 100.


    I'm afraid your marketing, not broadcasting, background breaks through. 'Passionate', my foot. You use the word in the same way advertisers use 'ultimate'. Excatly how much 6Music output have you actually listened to? Because your expenses declarations don't exactly shout alternative music fan to me. Unless your definition of an alternative music festival is a picnic at Glyndebourne.

    So why not leave this area to people who knew what they're talking about, like Steve Lamacq (https://goingdeafforaliving.com/blog/35/6music%29 and go back to supporting the fine work being done on Radio 3.



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